iClaim | How I renewed my passport

“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it” is an infamously famous line attributed to The Alchemist. As far as yours truly is concerned, there’s just one universal conspiracy theory – When Elita really wants something to happen, the whole world conspires to help her struggle to achieve it.
Here’s a story of one of many such struggles.

Knuckle-cracking procrastinator --
Late in April this year, after yet another attempt to reclaim the Self by traveling to the spectacular Rann of Kutch in Western India, I realized it was about time to initiate the process of renewing my passport. With a little help from my ability to procrastinate, I’d outrun my 10 year old passport’s validity in January. Somehow wishful thinking around planning a trip abroad sometime in the near and immediate future propelled me towards initiating the first step in the direction known as get-your-butt-off-the-couch-and-crack-some-knuckles.

Google as father-figure --
And so I logged on the Indian passport portal. The last time around – i.e. 10 years ago - I recall dad managing this seemingly bureaucratic circus. Now however
(a) I had to stop relying on dad because well, you know, you’re supposed to be, and *sigh* are, an adult; and
(b) Everything had moved to the worldwide web.
In spite of how much we reek of hashtags and all such things courtesy our wired existence, I was more than just mildly intimidated by what the entire online process seemed to entail. The FAQs on their website could only do so much it seemed to placate my anxieties. Hence, Google became the father-figure in the bargain and reading up on a couple of blogs in plain speak reduced some of the anxiety.
N.B.: Many rounds of procrastination occurred between logging in and eventually furnishing the requirements.

What the queue?
Process being adhered to I scheduled an in-person appointment to kick-start the endeavour. When the day was finally here I realized I’d have to reschedule as I didn’t have the physical copies of every document required. That tackled, I recall investing an entire day at the Passport Office in Mumbai merely making it from one serpentine queue to the next. Step number whose-count-I’d-already-lost was to now await a call from the local police station to verify address of residence and complete background checks for any possible fallout with the law

Phantom Passport --
The call from the police station didn’t happen until a little more than three weeks later. By then yours truly who didn’t need a passport to visit the neighbours travelled to Bhutan and back. It was early June. The experience of completing the formalities at the police station was rather pleasant and unlike what many others had been heard describing. Relieved, an optimistic me was almost certain her renewed passport was now merely a few days away. Ah! Naiveté.
When no word came by in text or otherwise, yours truly logged a grievance on the portal seeking candle light be shone in the direction of the otherwise phantom passport. A brief telegram-like text response was provided over the weekend.
It read:
Police has submitted clear report for your current address.
Text #2:
Passport printing initiated for your file. You will receive SMS once your passport is printed.

June had begun to pave the way for July and yet again optimism kicked in – with the police formalities out of the way, printing would be a cake walk. But phantoms are phantoms for a reason. When by mid-July there was still no word, another grievance was registered on the portal; only this time the response was rather terse and to the effect of we’ll-revert-back-to-you-in-three-weeks-time.
Jaw dropped. Face dropped.

Letting the hands do the talking --
And then towards the fag end of July the filaments in the cranium grew some sparks. A friend from work had wound up the same road dead-end only a couple of months ago. It was time to let the hands do the talking i.e. unleash the power of social media.
On a late Tuesday evening, Twitter was summoned and in under 140 characters the first pellet (read: tweet, for the uninitiated) was triggered off to Consular, Passport and Visa within the Ministry of External Affairs (@CPVIndia).

By 9 AM the next morning, there was a reply seeking information on the file number to further pursue the matter. Needless to say a very prompt reply was sent in return to that tweet.

2 PM. Noon of Thursday a text was received:
Passport printed. You will receive an SMS once it is dispatched by Speed Post
7 PM. Evening of the same Thursday a second text was received:
Passport dispatched and can be tracked using Speed Post tracking ID
10:30 PM. Late that same night an email containing all of the above information was received.

Noon of Saturday that same week yours truly hopped about the house gleefully holding on to her now not at all phantom passport. In less than 48 hours since my first tweet I was assured of my passport’s whereabouts.

It ain’t for nothing then that mayhaps the phrase ‘talk to the hand’ was coined.
No crusade fought
No extra dimes or pennies spent
No sleep lost
…in procuring ze passport!

Power to you. It’s a fairly fair world out there. And the story's worth the struggle (or may be it's vice versa)

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