Passport Nightmare - Part 2
On that day in the evening, I reached home a little worried. The problem we started off our brainstorming with remained unresolved - "dimaag ka dahi" already ho chuka tha! :-(
I was wondering whether or not I should tell Shubhangi about the passport drama. Well I did. Finally. My experience since marriage is that sharing my worries with Shubhangi helps me relax. It did the trick this time too. There was nothing I could do anyway. Soon we got into our usual routine of Ananya, TV, cooking and the internet.
Ananya really keeps us busy. It's a very relaxing experience to play with her in the evening after a hard day's work. With every passing day, she is becoming more and more demanding. She is learning a lot of tricks these days to attract attention. If we don't "strap her in" to the car seat, she can get out of it on her own. She doesn't "cry" but makes a lot of "noise" by yelling constantly if she wants something - UNTIL SHE GETS WHAT SHE WANTS! That was quite amusing initially but also gets frustrating at times. Like now when she wants to be with me and I am into writing this blog! :-)
Well, the next day I tried the number of the lady-who-cancelled-my-wife's-passport (LWCMWP) again. As you must have guessed, she never got back in touch herself.
No reply. Not even a voicemail.
By 12 o'clock that day, I got quite frustrated and decided to get in touch with whoever I could get hold of via the numbers on the website of the high commission. I hoped those people would be a bit more helpful than the LWCMWP. It went to voicemail too - albeit to an Interactive Voice Response system. The longest I have ever been to. It took me 5 minutes to get out of an unending chain of options and finally to a woman who seemed quite irritated to receive the call.
I must admit, the Indian High Commission has maintained "stringent indian government standards" even in London! I have had the misfortune of having to visit the passport section of the India House in person. In one of the most expensive areas of London - Aldwych - which is not more than a few miles away from Kensington Palace Gardens - the most expensive real estate in the world at 128 million dollars - which belongs to the Indian steel magnate Laxmi Mittal, the high commission has managed to put together the typical indian government building's feel of an ageing, run-down, dark and dingy office! Same piles of files, same staff with no courtesy whatsoever to waiting clientele, dusty surroundings and the cashier's cages similar to what you'll find in any SBI branch in India!
Aah... I digressed. The rundown passport section is a topic in itself.
Where was I?
Yup... An irritated lady answered my phone.
I tried to explain what had happened to me with the passports to the lady. She cut me off the moment I uttered the word "passport"! I was left listening to music for what seemed like an eternity and finally someone answered the phone.
"Hello, Passport Section."
I have never been happier to hear someone speak to me on phone before! Never been more relieved!
The first thing I did was to ask the person his name and his direct number. I did not want to torture myself into going through that dreaded IVR again!
It was some Mr Kulkarni, the head of the passport section, who had answered the section's phone on his way to lunch or something. As usual, the person who had the responsibility to answer clients' calls was probably busy with chatting with someone else away from his desk!
"Head of the passport section!" My voice probably reflected the excitement I felt at finding this gold mine of a man. He must have felt flattered.
"Sorry to bother you sir, but someone in your section has wrongly cancelled my wife's passport!" I started off with a bouncer. I had learned the tricks of dealing with these people the hard way by then. You needed to be direct. Only then did they give you a chance to explain what you wanted.
"Oh... you are referring to - what is your wife's name?"
"Oh yes... Mrs Pawar. I have taken that case very seriously." Mr Kulkarni.
"I agree. Cancelling someone's passport by mistake is... " I trailed off.
"Yeah, I agree. I have asked them to do everything they can to help you." Mr Kulkarni.
By then, from his tone, I knew he was a maharashtrian. I immediately started speaking Marathi.
"Aho saaheb, passport cancel zala chukun tey ek veL samju shakato me, pan toch passport parat issue karayache 27 pounds maagatahet tya madam! Malaa naav nahi mahit tyanche. Kaal tyanna vicharayala wisarlo me." Me maajhi vyatha manDali.
"..." Kulkarni vicharat padlele disle.
"Aata ha passport cancel zalaye tar tyachyasaathi baykoche passport photos, office madhye tichya passport number che changes, visa cell la kaLavaNe... tumhi passport issue kelaat tarii mala ajun baryach goshTi swat:chya khishala khaar laavun karavya laagNaar aahet. Majhya mate jya koni ha passport cancel kelaa tyala itaki shiksha tar vhayalach pahije ki sagaLe expenses tya vyaktine bharavet." Me majha mudda manDala.
"Ho... Barobar aahe tumache! Ha gunha akshamya aahe. Me action gheNar aahe hyawar. Me strong warning diliye already." Kulkarni.
"Thank you. PaN aata tumhi passport issue karNar kasa? Mhanaje details aani photos wagaire kase deu tumhala me?" Me hyaach call madhye hya jhanjhaTitun poorNa mukta vhayacha prayatna karat hoto. ;-)
"Tumhi ase kara, London la yeun deun ja." Kulkarni.
"Kaay?" Me uDaloch.
"Aho - majhya porichya passportsaThi weL kaDhayala malaa 3 mahine laagale. Aata hey aaNakhi ek. AaNi me London madhye rahat naahi. Tumhi maajhi trip sponsor karataye ka?" Kasabasa swat:war taaba thevat me mhaNalo.
"Mag kase karu ya mhanataye?" Kulkarni (thoDe vaitagun). Mala tyachya vaitagaNyashi kaahi gheNe deNe navate! Malaa passport hava hota!
"Tumacha email address dya. Me tumhala bayakocha photo ani signature scan karun pathawato. Baakiche tumhi bagha." Me majhi idea suchawali.
"Umm... theek aahe, pathava." (kasanusa chehra karat bahutek) Kulkarni.
Me vijayi aavirbhaavat tyancha email address wagaire lihun ghetala.
Tyaach dupaari lunch karun parat yetana me Shuhbangicha ek photo aani baryachshya vegvegaLya sizes chya signature gheun aalo. Tya scan kelya aaNi paThawun dilya.
Majhya drushTine tya veLi tari ek moTha problem sampala hota... Aata kahi divasat hya doghinche passports yeNaar mhanun anandatach me office soDale tya divashi.
Pann dusarya divashi sakaLi....
TO BE CONTINUED...