Trying to renew your passport could be quite a task. I'm not sure about the other locations, but my experience in Hyderabad was a horrible one. Not so much in submitting your forms at the counter as in the process before that - getting a date in tatkal, and filling your form up.
The earliest date available on the site was 28th of July - this is tatkal mind you, so I should get my new passport at lightning speed when you compare it to the usual process of 2-3 months. But getting a date on the 28th of july would mean getting the date on my travel date. A little risky don't you think? I thought so too :-)
So somebody suggested that I should go through an agent, who can help me fill the form and get a date at the earliest.
So I found one. This person came with a very strong reference. I had little time and a huge task at hand. So I did what I had to do. I trusted him. I diligently filled the form and handed it over to him.
"How long will it take to get the new passport?" I asked him while handing over Rs 5000.
"Maaaaadam... long process madam. You will have to get the dates. Fill an online form, submit at the Passport Office, then get passport. It will take about 20 days." He must've seen the 'why do I need you?' look on my face, cause he quickly added..." But I will get it to you in 7 days madam!"
"Ok.. what are the forms that I need to be prepared with? I also want to get a passport for my baby. So can I do something for it right now?"
"You have to add spouse name madam" he said. He was using 'Madam' so many times, it was driving me crazy. But I did not want to correct his 'habit'. I needed an early passport. Too risky to rub the guy the wrong way now.
"Ok. and my name... I want to change it to Padmaja Ganeshan Singh"
"No two surnames madam.. only one. Keep Singh"
There he was ... deciding for me. He said I couldn't have both my maiden and married surnames on the passport. This was really strange. After a lot of protest.. no it's not what you're thinking, I agreed to drop the Ganeshan. He said it would take a lot of time to get two surnames added.
Finally, we came to the forms. "Just Bank statement and Marriage certificate along with a photo of ours to say that we were indeed married madam". He also said, it needn't be our marriage photo. Just any photo of the 2 of us together. Perhaps the husband's face, usually tells the story of his wife.. may be some male code that I can't decipher, and hence any pic would do.
I submitted all the documents to him. The Bank statement was an auto generated online document. It also came with a disclaimer that it did not require any attestation for validity.
But the guy refused to listen. "Panga ho jaayega madam", he said, trying to tell me that there'd be a huge problem if I did not get the statement attested.
So I requested him to go to the bank and get the statements. I gave him an authorization document.
For the first week, there was no call from him. There was no date at all to visit the RPO.
I followed up day in and out. I escalated to his manager. And miraculously, he called me the next day with a date. "June 4th Madam. Please get the documents I told you"
"Ok. is there anything else?"
"No Madam. That's all. And forget about the Bank statements. I will take care of it"
'Efficient' I thought.
So June 4th meant Friday of this week. I called him on Tuesday and Wednesday to check if the attestation was in place. I was getting a lil worried now.
"Don't worry madam.I'll do it na? You just come around 9 -9:30 AM on friday"
The RPO is in Secunderabad, and since I stay 25 KMs north, I need to plan to leave home at least an hour and a half early. And getting Driti ready by 7:30 was not something I wanted to attempt on the D - Day.
Thanks to little mercies like mom staying in Secunderabad, I decided to leave on Thursday with Driti and stay at her place.
I called the agent at 8:00 in the morning of the 4th.
"Madam. Your passport is damaged. Please get Rs 5000/ - And also get your 10th class certificate and 4 passport size photographs"
After troubling me through 2 weeks, this guy had the cheek to tell me the additional documents at the nth hour, that too, when I called. My passport damaged? He blew my lid off.
I yelled at his irresponsibility and unprofessional behavior. He hung up on me and asked me to find another agent. I spoke to his boss. The agent called me back in 2 mins.
Lucky for me, dad keeps a copy of all my documents.
The agent made me wait for half hour, before surfacing from some shady place. I was armed with Pappu, my friend on my side.
The bank docs were not attested. "Chal jaata madam", he said repeating what I had said. The documents did not need any attestation. I looked at the sadist for scaring me with the 'formalities' when they were nothing.
I submitted the documents at the passport office. The date of delivery was supposed to be 11th Of June 2010.
Here we are..
Where ever you are, please come to me soon. I promise I will take good care of you. I now know your worth.
Eagerly waiting for you,