My Tryst at the Passport Office!

Couple of years back, we had an opportunity to travel abroad (a possibility). Most of our team members did not have passports! I took it upon myself to get the team apply for passports. My bestestΒ friend Jayant Khona not only guided me on how to apply, he also wrote a blog post about it. I shared the procedure with my team & I myself thought to get it done via agent. The form was filled, document collated, however, due to some reason, the procedure was not followed till end. As I write this, I recall I wanted a good picture for passport & was waiting for a haircut for the same. πŸ˜›

This year I made a resolution to apply for passport. Half way through the year, while taking stock of the resolution, I realised I hadn’t applied for the passport yet! This was remedied instantly & I applied it online. Applying for passport online is very simple. Except, if you make any error, you have to start afresh. Fill up the online form, make payment & schedule appointment. There is also an option of uploading documents, however, I didn’t follow that. It is not required as such. I had applied on 21st July & I got appointment for 4th September! What a long wait!

As fate would have it, our client decided to visit India on 3rd 4th & 5th September. I didn’t want to reschedule my appointment as I wasn’t sure what date would be allotted to me next. I stated my predicament to my boss & thanks to him, I could adhere to my appointment without any worries. My appointment time was 2 O’Clock & I was instructed to report half an hour earlier. My centre was in Thane, extended part of Mumbai, not technically though. After an hour of travelling, stopping in between for 15 minutes for a quick meal, I reached the passport office. The queue was not very huge. As per the comments I overheard, it was a slow day. After a while the security announced our appointment time & marked the application form. (Thank God I had taken a print of that!) Then it was turn for Security Check. I had taken a bottle of water as per experts advice, however the security guard told me to empty the bottle & then take it inside.. I didn’t want to waste the water. I drank it all, to much amusement of the security guard πŸ™‚

I entered the office & it seemed quite empty. I thought my task would be over in a jiffy. The first two steps, the initial verification of the documents & allotting token number & taking photographs & fingerprint is outsourced to TCS. These guys are superfast. Even though one guy was chit chatting, his colleague asked him to allot me token number first. And then I had to go to Counter No. A 22. I didn’t realise that they would be taking photograph directly. I hadn’t freshened up (Was sweating a lot due to humidity & nervousness) & neither had got chance to apply compact & lipstick (I had moved out of office quickly after meet with client & didn’t have time to do this in office). The resulting photograph was not to my liking. Only consolation was that the pic was better than the one in the Aadhar Card. Thank god for small mercies πŸ˜‰ (Ladies, there is a tip in here)

After this round I had to go for document verification. My number was 162 & when I entered the waiting area, the screen was blinking at 105. There are not many seats available so be prepared to stand for some time. Also, please don’t bring someone with you unless absolutely necessary, specially kids. They eat up the seating area / create a nuisance by running around. After sometime I did manage to get one seat & I also helped another girl to get a seat, who was kind enough to ask me if I required anything, when she went to get something to munch on. The waiting time is such that you can easily befriend someone πŸ˜‰ I had twitter so no problem of getting bored.

Finally it was my turn and after a minor glitch (my dad’s name on birth certificate is slightly different coz the way they write names in North India & is different in my school certificates) The TCS person (very pretty & efficient girl) had said that name will be as per birth certificate whereas the passport officer said it should be as per school certificate. That got sorted in a jiffy too.

Then another wait for the last round. I was very sleepy & thirsty by then so headed at the refreshment counter. Cappuccino @ 30 Rs sounded good enough (though did not taste good) I threw half of the coffee in the bin & just had water.

After considerable time the documents were verified the second time & then got my application confirmation letter & moved towards the exit. Said thanks to God for getting this through without any incidents πŸ˜‰

So to summarize:

1. The security will get you in as per the batch you are in.

2. You will be allotted a token number.

3. Your file will be prepared, photograph will be taken & fingerprints too!

4. Your documents will be verified by the passport officer.

5. Your documents will be verified by another passport officer.

6. You will get an application confirmation & you can go home.

The entire procedure doesn’t take more than half an hour. To complete that half hour procedure took me 4 hours though πŸ™‚

It is not as scary or complicated as people would tell you. All your documents must be in place. That’s it! So what are you waiting for?? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

P.S.: Ooh & the icing on the cake was my boss asked me to go home instead of coming back to office & also I enjoyed getting drenched in the rain as it started raining heavily on my way home πŸ™‚