There are a few things all Indians are resigned to.
And most of all,the endless ,chaotic,mind numbing process of getting anything that requires you to involve a Government office done.6 trips to the passport office,8 to the bank,numerous others to get affidavits,stamps,notary stamps,and what have you,thousands of rupees,plus endless hours of standing in line for multiple days just so your passport can now include your husband’s name(misspelt) is,to an Indian,just how it is.Normal.Usual.Regular.How else could it be?
Well.THIS is how different,and so much more convenient it could be,if only,we stopped listening to our self styled Godmen insisting on us procreating more than we can really afford.(Long theory about too many people making efficiency impossible etc.)
Cut to this tiny,hot island of efficiency and convenience.
There was the small matter getting the Ministry of Manpower to endorse my visa…….
On my chosen day of appointment,me and the husband took one look outside the window,and decided there was no way we were risking our passports and emigration cards in the torrential rain,therefore,booking a cab would be the smartest thing we would do all day.We turned up exactly at 8.35 am for an appointment scheduled for 9.30.
So,okay,I thought to myself…..I am well prepared.I m no novice to the world of getting official documentation done.
Bottle of water,check,snacks to last till the end of the world and back,check,a healthy collection of 86 epubs on the tablet to keep me busy till kingdom come,check,phone loaded with music,check.
Afterall,it’s a government office.And while I DO have an appointment for 9.30,the earliest a bureaucrat is likely to make time for me would be just after lunchtime,right?WRONG.
The minute we approached the haloed doorway neatly lined with kiosks,a ministry official approached us.And SMILED at us.AND wished us good morning.Happily.How often does that happen???That alone nearly made my day.Then,he proceeded to divest me of my documentation,did some quick punching on the kiosk screen,handed me a token sheet,led me to a nice,comfy couch with a breathtaking view of the Singapore flyer,and left me there,clutching my passport,and with an assurance that I would be called soon.
Before alarm bells could go off,fearing a scam,since he had disappeared with all my other approval letters and cards,viola!a joyful looking girl haltingly pronounced my name!And it wasn’t even 837 yet!!!
I shot off my comfy seat and walked up,shoulders squared,expecting the battle to begin :your name is incorrect,your address proofs are wrong,how can you not have an adhar card?No,we cannot process this without a birth certificate.Your husbands signature on the affidavit is different from the one on his hall ticket.You know the drill…
Another surprise.”Hello ma’m,may i see your passport please?’ ‘please look straight at the camera,and smile.Ready?Are you happy with this picture?If not,i l take another one’………please place right thumb….by this time,I was positively alarmed.Something was very very wrong.Someone behind the desk of a govt office was actually being polite.Am i still in bed,dreaming?Did I switch my alarm off and continue to slumber?
Before I could pinch myself,just to be sure,she merrily informed me my card would be mailed to my sponsor company and I would receive it within 3 to 4 working days.Then, she wished me a good day.
At 8.46 am,precisely 11 minutes after we had entered the building,we were back out on the pavement,all processes completed,all documentation done.
I turned my shell shocked countenance to my very supportive husband( I mean that literally,since at this point,his firm grip on my arm was the only thing preventing me from sitting down,smack dab in the middle of the pavement and pinch myself,really hard).I had just one question : “Did she tell me to do something,or go to some other counter,that I missed,or did not understand because,you know,we have different speech patterns,different first language…..miscommunication?”
At 920 ,I was back in my own kitchen,unpacking my snacks.
Its been more than a month since that day.Every few days,I take out the card that arrived exactly 3 days later and stare at it,to assure myself it was not a bizarre dream,that it really happened.