Indian Passport Office

Since a year there has been lot of news about India catching up to speed with passport issue. From the earlier 45-60 days for a fresh passport, they said most offices had upgraded themselves to computer-assisted passport offices and so, the lag had come down to 14 days. Now if you read the fine print, or no print in this case, it is clear that there are at most a few Indian cities that follow this so-called fast process. On top of that, Indian passport office website carries  tatkaal option, albeit available at select offices. Having seen Thane under that select list made me happy some time March end. Under that scheme, a reissue of a passport would be done in 3 days! I couldn't believe my eyes. It was too good to be true.

In any case, I read up all that there was to be to read about such reissue process and also what need be done for tatkaal process. I even wrote to the Thane passport office and heard back from them asking me to apply online. The website also says that applying online for the passport will give you a date and time of appointment due to which you'll be saved of the time to wait in long queues waiting for token. So what I did is apply online, take a print out of application, get all documents ready, old passport, its copies and the tatkaal documents: Annexure I [standard affidavit that cost me 400 bucks thanks to notarized crooks here :) ] and more than the 3 required proofs, 1000 bucks for fees and 1500 more for tatkaal. I thought its still worth it if I don't have to wait for 45-60 days.

I expected to come back home for lunch on the said day having been given an *appointment* at 1000hrs at Thane passport office, which was also printed on my online application. To my utter shock, I was told in their enquiry counter to stand in a queue, take a token and wait for the number to submit my application. There were tons of people doing just that, some with online application, some with manual application and yet some more who were buying the application forms there and filling it. All were in the same freaking queue! So much for "apply online, avoid queues" crap by our govt offices. Much past noon, I hit the scrutiny counter. The moron who was to scrutinize my application told me that I can't get a tatkaal reissue. On asking why not if I had the affidavit and more than all the required proofs as per the website FAQ, he told me "passport valid tar pahije" (your passport should be valid)! If my passport had been valid (not expired), why would I apply for reissue??? Is that so difficult to understand? Moreover, he asked me if I wanted the affidavit back. When I told him its no use elsewhere, he gave me the affidavit back saying "you can use it somewhere else". Where can you use an affidavit that says "Standard affidavit for passport"? :)  I suppose thats what you get in hiring people under reservation schemes.

I returned home thinking how I wasted 500 bucks for paperwork for tatkaal, but then calmed down thinking I saved 1500 bucks. Now I wait in eternity for police to call for verification, pay their "fees" and someday get my passport. I realized if its too good to be true, perhaps it is.
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