I don't remember the date now but it was about a month ago. It was a Friday, just like today, but somewhat busier. I had a call today that has got cancelled at the last minute and I have got two hours to myself. What a pleasant surprise on a Friday afternoon! I wish every Friday was like this!
On that other Friday, we had a problem at hand and we needed to brainstorm to come to a decision which way to go from there. It was important we resolved it on the same day. There were two of us – me and a colleague. We first went to the coffee machine that is just a few feet away from my desk. It serves great espresso – short, strong and sweet. Just the way I like it. We found a free cubicle and sat down with our little buddy – the problem!
It wasn’t quite an easy nut to crack and our discussion was really getting hot. I do like these brainstorming sessions – they make you spend so much energy. I love the evenings when I have had a really tiring day. It was going exactly that way that day.
But Alas… Suddenly, the usual culprit disturbed us – my mobile. It was ringing. It was a call from an unusual number. Usually, if I know who is calling and I am in the middle of something, I disconnect and call the person back when I am done. I didn’t know who it was. So I had to answer it.
“Hello… is that Ananya Thakur? I am calling from Indian Embassy in London.” A lady said from the other side. She sounded like a Gujju.
“…” I didn’t know what to answer. Who could expect a baby to talk on a mobile phone? I was thinking.
She apparently realised her mistake and then asked, “May I talk to Shubhangini Pawar please?”
“This is her husband and Ananya’s father. She is not here at the moment. May I help you?” I had regained my composure by then.
“We have cancelled your wife’s passport!” she said in an agitated voice.
“What?” I almost fell out of my chair!
“Yeah, it’s a very monotonous job and I mistakenly stamped her passport as cancelled!” There was no hint of apology in her voice.
“…” I did not know what to say for second time in 30 seconds.
“You’ll have to pay 27 pounds to get a new passport for her. We’ll need a new booklet, you see,” She continued pushing on.
“Hello… I had applied for my baby’s passport. Not for cancellation of my wife’s passport! How could a document like passport be cancelled like this in the first place?” I was about to erupt in rage.
“…” No answer. It was her turn to be on back foot.
“I had applied for my baby’s passport and I expect to get that along with my wife’s which was given as a proof as soon as possible.” I was fighting to keep myself from shouting.
“I don’t have money to pay for it. Your wife’s passport may get delayed…” She now sounded worried at the prospect of losing money due to her mistake.
I was not sure how to react. If I got angry, I feared she may indeed make an excuse and wash her hands off ever having my wife’s passport in her possession. In a foreign country, I could do without having more trouble in an already precarious situation. I had to keep her from disowning the whole thing. I suddenly realised that I had to be really careful and diplomatic.
“Okay… I’ll pay the amount. When can I have the passport?” I said resignedly.
“I’ll let you know… I’ll call you back tomorrow…” she said and hung up!
I was dazed. My colleague had long realised it was something serious and was looking at me for an explanation.
“The embassy has cancelled my wife’s passport!” I told him.
“Why?” He looked incredulous.
“By mistake!” I told him the truth.
Now he was truly amazed. “How can they cancel something as important as a passport?”
“…” I was staring blankly at him.
“And what happens to your wife’s visa?” he asked, startling me out of my brief slumber.
At that question, I panicked. I suddenly realised a lot of things. What about her visa? What about her passport photographs? What about her signature? The address? The other details? How on earth can this silly woman issue another passport without having all these?
I desperately dialled the number from which I had received this call on my mobile. I thanked BT for the “caller ID” on my mobile. I had never realised it could be so important before!
Now I was truly in a quandary! What do I do next???
TO BE CONTINUED...