Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I am always surprised at the range of stuff you can do online in India. I recall being pleasantly surprised when I first came back to India and am still pleased to see the rapid pace with which stuff comes online. I have been paying my taxes online for some time now much to the discomfort of my CA who doesn't trust online payments so much. But it works and works well - touchwood.

However this blog isn't about that anyhow. Had to renew my passport and got wind that you could now do this online. Quickly googling it revealed that passport.gov.in allowed you to fill out your application online and after printing it you were notified of date on which you had to visit the passport office in worli to drop off the application and your papers.

Sounded pretty easy so filled the app got all the papers. Bunched all the originals together and copied them once as instructed and reached worli on the day notified by the website.

Online world meet offline world! First order of the day was to figure out which passport office? Old or new. Correct answer is new passport office, the Bengal Chemicals office.

Turns out that the appointment system was scrapped a few months back and now you just showed up at the passport office within 15 days of filling out that online form. Ok, so won't be a 15 minute cakewalk as I had imagined.

So back to sarkari world. Long line, guards and peons wielding power and feeding you nonsense. Long line, middle of the afternoon and I had also picked a day before a long weekend Holi and Id were happening. Found out grom my co-sufferers that the smart folks had turned up early in the morning and were only just getting out by 12.

Then the paranoia- dd you get all the documents ? Did you fill out the right forms? Did you get enough copies? Are you feeling lucky? So now you're bonded with the other folks around you in the line. Great, because you are getting ready to spend atleast 4 hours with some of them only I didnt know this then!

Ok so the verdict was - I had the right forms. Needed extra copies of everything so that means two copies of all originals. Also I had to copy my existing passport. Good news is that the line has in / out privileges. You have to join the line before 12 otherwise there is a cutoff and people are turned back.

Once you get inside it's a long wait. There are two types of lines inside - submission line and payment line. Submission is sloooooow and after that the payment line seems very brisk.

Overall the whole thing took 4 hours perhaps longer due to the holidays.Looks like the application is moving ahead. I had my police verification recently - about 2-3 weeks later. Haven't paid any bribes yet. Fingers crossed.

To summarize
1. Take all your originals
2. Four copies of everything. Two to give when you submit your application. Two for the cop who will abruptly demand copies when he shows up.
3. Letter from society confirming your residency and since when.
4. Keep atleast 6 photographs ready.
5. Three copies of existing passport if you have it.
6. Snacks to munch inside the waiting room
7. Patience!

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