Getting Indian Passport Is Easy

Getting Indian passport is easy.

And, quick.

And, unlike everything that I had imagined.

I visited the passport office on a Friday afternoon. After a week, on a Saturday morning, the courier walah delivered the passport. A week is all takes to get a passport. I did not even apply for a tatkal or out of turn passportIs it that easy? What was I afraid of?

Here’s a day by day summary of how I got my passport. Before applying, I had one mantra in mind.

Take no chances, and don’t argue.

A Little Background

Okay, so I had a passport. It expired, more than three years ago. Also, the previous one had my native place’s address. I wanted this one to have my address – my apartment’s address.

So, it was a complex case of

  1. renewal
  2. validity expired more than three years ago
  3. ECR deletion
  4. address changed
  5. appearance changed 😉

I have been meaning to renew it since 2014, before it expired. I filled the form, submitted the application but I needed to be a resident of the new address for at least one year. I had just moved to this apartment.

For next three years,  I procrastinated, primarily because I knew I am not going anywhere outside of India. Not anytime soon.

The Trigger

It was on an impulse. On 3rd Novermber, my dad and I were discussing something and then suddenly he brought up “Umrah”. We have discussed it before and I do want to do Umrah (of course, Hajj as well).

Alright, it is time to renew the passport.

Fill the application form

So, the next morning, I arrived at office and the first thing I did was to login to Passport Seva website. I filled the application form and submitted it and left for breakfast.

Efficient, right?

Not so much!

I got busy in some other stuff and just could not get the documents ready.

It took me a week before I could login again. I reviewed the application, noted several mistakes and applied again. Yes, you can create as many applications as you want.

Date: November 11,  2019

Time spent: 10 minutes

Money spent: 0

Get your documents ready

Tuesday, I searched for a photo studio near my house. After alighting from office bus, I walked to that location. It was a dark building with nobody in sight. Yep, the trusted Google Maps had failed me.

The next day, I searched for one near office. Again, Google Map failed me and I ended up in a different studio. But, hey. All I want is two passport size photographs.

It was an awful studio and the owner seemed stingy. Even the fan was switched off. I was wearing a white dress and the photo looked bad with white background, so he changed it to red. He clicked the photo, and also insisted on giving a soft copy, because he maked extra 20 bucks from it. I agreed. These days, my mantra is “don’t argue”.

Date: November 13,  2019

Time spent: 35 minutes (including the walk to and fro)

Money spent: 200

I readied all the documents, 3 copies each.

Pay the fee

Thursday morning, feeling confident that I am all set for taking the appointment. I made the payment.

Date: November 14,  2019

Time spent: 5 minutes

Money spent: 1500

But, wait. The instructions say that two photographs are required, with white background. Great! The photographer must have known this and yet he screwed it up. I bet he did this on purpose.

Not the one to take chance, I went to the same studio, fuming all the way. There was a different guy this time. I told him the whole story. Very generously, he offered a discount of 30 rupees. I accepted it. 30 rupees can buy me a sandwich. Some would say that’s stingy, but that’s me.

Date: November 14,  2019

Time spent: 30 minutes (including the walk to and fro)

Money spent: 150

Happy Children’s Day!

Get an appointment

I booked an appointment. I was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 2.00 PM. You don’t have control over it. I took two print-outs, even though the website says SMS is enough. Take no chances, and don’t argue.

Visit Passport Seva Kendra

My brother and sister had to visit twice as they had asked for more documents. I was so freaking paranoid that I took everything with me, 3 copies of each.

The first thing I noticed upon entering is that there is a xerox center there, just in case you don’t have a copy of a required document. I did not need it, but it must be a relief for many.

Validation Step 1

There are three validation counters. I stood in the small queue. There was not much difference, though. The tatkal queue was shorter. One of the officer walked out and gestured us to join the tatkal queue. We did move, making all three queues the same length, and me being at the tail end. But, the other two queue had kids so I assumed it would be a safe bait to stand in an adult-only queue.

She ruthlessly tore away the unnecessary documents. The only thing that remained was passport pages and Aadhar, my identity, remember?

I received one paper token. N-568, a number that became my identity for the time I was inside PSK.

Date: November 15,  2019

Time spent: 3 minutes

Money spent: 0

Counter A

With the paper token, you enter the appointment area.

This is where the magic happens. The detailed document verification, application form, correction, photos, thumb impression, signature, EVERYTHING.

They also act as salesman as they sell the leather passport cover. I did not want to argue so I bought it, alongwith the Passport Message Seva (Text message to update you about the progress).

The officer asked me to go to counterB.

Date: November 15,  2019

Time spent: 5 minutes

Money spent: 450

Counter B

I barely entered that area when I heard someone call my name. It took 10 seconds, as the officer was probably irritated by his job.

“Go and wait for counter C,” he said.

“Thank you,” I replied.

Counter C

In 19 minutes, even before my scheduled appointment time of 2 pm, I am done with the three level checks.

Oh my goodness, these guys are efficient.

You’d think?

The queue for C is a mile long. And the waiting area is jam packed. The counter only shows N406 for C2. Other items on the display are N and B and O and S, all for counter B.
N, T, O, S, P… Whatever the applicant category, the queue is moving slowwww. The people waiting (the ones who have gotten chairs to sit) have token N446 and they are still waiting. I’m N-568. It will be a long wait. I guess I would have to go back home once I am done here. I can’t go back if this takes hours. It has already been 23 minutes.@ 2:22 pm.

At 3.04 pm, I walked out from the exit gate. They don’t take any physical copy. Such a waste of paper…

Police Verification

Saturday began at 8.37 when I awoke and felt fresh. My stomach still felt queasy thanks to yesterday’s random fasting and eating. I made breakfast and my brother and I are together. I had to collect one document from my builder, who is located 15 kilometres away from my house. My brother drove me there as I rode pillion and told him the directions. Today was one of the rarest cases that Google failed me. The map showed the destination in the center of a cricket ground. That’s not possible, right?
After entering three narrow lanes and asking around, and falling the builder office thrice, we found the building. The office was in a residential building. Go, figure!

Now we know the route. The ride back home should have been simpler, right? No, because Pune has one way routes and we cannot take the same route back. The map was not updating

After lunch I was feeling drowsy and anxious. I decided to cover the backlog of my blog. The laptop battery was at ten percent and I could only publish one post and tweak three others. Then the battery died – laptop’s and mine too. I shut the laptop and fell asleep. It is that easy to fall asleep sometimes.

I got up feeling sweaty. I threw the blanket away and switches off th fan. Then, I liked for my dearly beloved phone. It had a message and, some app update notifications (damn the notifications). The preview of tj text message itself said “Police verification”. The lazy and sleepy feeling went out the window and I jumped up. Quickly freshened up (bad stomach) and read the message again.

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It is 5:42 already. Damn!

Okay, so I am panicking right now,my mind is still in a haze and I am definitely not thinking straight. How do I know? Cuz when I reread the message, the message contents are still the same but the clock says 5:38 pm. Yes, earlier I had read the time again.
I have like two kilogrammes of documents and still there are some that are not part of that bunch so I need to find it from the other 10 kilogrammes of document, take the xeroxes and visit the police station. It is 6:15 and my brother is still not home. I don’t want to go alone to a police station. I know, I am old but I am also easily scared.

Instead of waiting for my brother, I decide to go and get the documents copied. It takes two minutes and 8 rupees, 2 rupees per copy because when they know it is important, they thug you. Damn all those people!

No auto wala was ready to take us. The one we got into dropped us a kilometre away from the station, claiming he doesn’t ply on the other road. Again, nobody is willing to take us there, because sitting there and chatting idly with fellow auto walas is more important. An aged driver agreed, not out of decency, but because we agreed to pay double the amount. Yes, desperation makes you do such stuff.

The station is scary, 6-7 constables standing outside in groups of 2&3. There is a neat board at the entrance pointing to the right..passport office
Following the sign, we climb old and worn out stairs.
A lady is sitting in a small room talking to a couple. I submitted my set of copies and she asked me to wait outside. Four more couples arrive in the meantime. They all submit the documents and thus begins the wait.

Question asked during the interview:

  1. Did you fill the form?
  2. Where do you work?
  3. Who all are staying with you?
  4. What’s your brother doing?
  5. Where are the parents?
  6. Why are you applying for the passport?

Clear Police Report

On Monday, November 18, 2019, I received one message from Passport Seva . The 50 bucks I paid is proving to be quite worth it.

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Passport Printing

November 22, 2019

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Passport Dispatched

Another message received.

Passport Arrived

I was combing my hair around noon. A weekend ritual, you see. I signed, collected the document and quickly rinsed oil off my hand. I can’t explain the feeling when I held that brand new crisp and slim passport in my hand. My previous one is old, worn out, and feels thicker thanks to the visa and work permits it contains.

The font etc are different than the old one. Still, I now have a valid passport. Anyone offering me a job abroad? Please contact me 🙂

Parting Thoughts

Look at that. One week, less than 3000 rupees and I got my passport. It was easier than In thought. Or maybe because it feels easier as I didn’t take any chance. Go ahead, get your passport.

I will post about more technical details (like what to select when filling a form, getting address changes etc) in a separate post.

Shabana Mukhtar

 

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