Passport Nightmare - Final Episode
Dusrya divashi sakaLi me eka important call madhye busy hoto aaNi titakyaat maza mobile wajala. Embassy cha number evhana maajha path zala hota. Embassy warun phone aala mhaNun me vicharat paDlo. Kaay karu? Chalu asalela call suddha important hota. Me swat:la conference madhye mute war Thevun shevaTi to phone ghetala.
“Hello, Himanshu here.”
“Hello sir, I am calling from Indian High Commission in London. My name is Arun.” Someone spoke from the other side of the line.
“Yes Arun, tell me.” Me. Wondering what Arun wanted to talk to me about.
“Sir, we will need a filled up application form for your wife’s passport to be reissued.” Arun.
“But I have already discussed this with Mr Kulkarni. I have also sent him an email in this regard.” I could throw names around now. I had learnt their tricks.
“Oh, you have already reached up to Mr Kulkarni!” He sounded surprised.
“…” I waited. ;-)
“Well, let me have a word with him in that case. I’ll call you back.” Arun blinked first.
“Yes please, before you disconnect, may I have your direct number please Mr Arun?” I was still dreading having to go through their IVR system.
He gave his number to me and ended the call.
This brought the doubt back in my mind about what is going to happen next. But it was high time I got back to work. I resumed my other call and forgot about this incident for a couple of days. I was still hoping that Mr Kulkarni would have done the needful.
It was almost a week before I realized that there has been no contact from embassy at all. I thought I must check on the progress. After many tries, I finally got through to Mr Kulkarni. I had to tell him who I was and what I wanted. That was not a good sign. Not at all.
“Have you checked your email Mr Kulkarni? I have sent you the photograph and signature by email.” I doubted now if this old man was net savvy enough to know what email was.
To my horror, he had not! That meant my email was lying around in his mailbox for more than a week unchecked! I was about to lose my patience at this stupidity.
I kept reminding myself, getting angry on these people is only going to make things worse.
Keep cool. Keep cool. Keep cool. I kept repeating to myself.
He promised to get back again – which meant he never would.
Now, I realized that unless I kept pressuring these people with unending calls everyday, I was not going to get the passports back.
From that day on, I kept calling them everyday. I had a reminder specifically setup for the purpose! “Call Embassy for Passports”!
The next day, a woman finally called with some news. Her name was Sheetal.
“Is that Mr Thakur?” Sheetal.
“Yes, speaking.” I.
“Mr Thakur, we have tried printing the photograph you have sent.” I was pleasantly surprised.
“But unfortunately, we can’t get a good print from the scanned photograph you have sent. It’s too grainy for a passport!” She continued.
“Well?” I anticipated she wanted me to send something to her!
“If you don’t mind, will you please send a filled form along with all the details you want to go in her passport? With her signature and photograph of course?” She tried persuading me.
I fought with myself. Why should I send her a long form filled with all the information and take all this trouble for no fault of my own?
“Are you sure a real photograph would help?” I enquired.
I was reluctant but at the same time realized that she was trying to help me.
If I didn’t help, she would have no choice but to use poor-quality photograph and signature. That of course would be a problem for Shubhangi and me.
“Of course, it will. We issue passports from such forms every day” she said.
“Well, ok.” I relented.
“I’ll send the form but only directly to you. Give me your full name and proper address. I don’t want my filled up form to be lost and me having to go through this all again.” I was becoming more and more careful.
She was reluctant but gave it to me.
I sent her the form on the same day. I liked this lady Sheetal – she sounded helpful and was quite keen on doing her job properly I felt.
The next day, I got a text. From Sheetal again. It said ‘We have received your form and photograph. Thanks.’
I was getting more helpful everyday. I was getting a feeling that after a long line of unhelpful and unprofessional people, I was finally coming across someone who cared.
After one month long ordeal…
After hours waiting on the IVR…
After many frustrating moments…
A postman dropped a package through our door – containing all three passports! J
But not before making us wait another day – the postman had simply dropped a “I missed you” card a day before without knocking or checking if someone is in to sign for the special delivery.
Well – it ended. The passports arrived.
Only to be sent back again – with addition of my own passport – to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of this country for Ananya’s visa! They are still with them.
I am waiting with a bated breath.
I am hoping I don’t receive a call while in another meeting, “May I talk to Ananya? Unfortunately….”
Wish me luck!