When I applied for my passport almost a decade back, the whole experience had left me exhausted. I had finally managed to secure my passport after submitting a bunch of documents which looked more like a book and less like a set of documents and after making couple of over-night journeys from my home-town Silchar to Guwahati. Back then, the Guwahati Regional Passport Office was the only passport office catering to the entire north-east.
Fast forward to 2015. Encouraged by the now much-simplified process of passport application, Ruchi decided to apply for her passport. The fact that most of the steps involved applying for a passport in India has now gone online only encouraged us, even more, to go ahead with it.
All this was much in contrast to what I had to go through when I had applied for mine. And add to that, because I had applied under the Tatkaal scheme, I had to do a lot of running around. This time, however, we did not go for tatkaal and instead chose the general option.
The website for passport application pretty much tells you everything you need to have and do before you schedule your appointment at one of your nearest PSKs (Passport Seva Kendra) though you should use a VPN to encrypt traffic to protect your personal data. In the end, we had chosen the PSK at Ganeshguri, the nearest one for her.
With the originals of all the documents she had uploaded at the time of booking her appointment slot online, she showed-up at the PSK (Passport Seva Kendra) only to find a slow-moving que at the couple or so counters there. It took her an hour or so when finally she was called to get her documents verified and the application accepted. This was quite different from what I heard about PSKs, the business where was know to be quick!
All this was fine and things at the RPO (Regional Passport Office) were moving at a decent pace. Within a week or so after the application has been sent for verification to the Police department. Given the fact the application was made under the general category and not tatkaal, I for one was quite impressed by the speed at which things were moving. Things had really improved, or so I thought.
However, all the things that were moving fast business suddenly came to an abrupt halt after it went to the police department for police verification.
Following-up with the RPO did not turn out to be of much help and they always asked to take it up with the police department. The status on the RPO’s application tracking showed no change for close to a month. We both were getting restless but decided to wait some more to see if at all things move on their own.
Well, things did move but only to get stuck again at a higher level in the same department. It had already been a couple of months if not more since it all started. Oh and by the way, things at the lower level (where it had been stuck before again being stuck at the SP’s office) did not move on its own. If you know what I mean!
One week became two and two by the end of which it seemed to us that there is going to be no further movement until someone actually pays a visit to where it was stuck and get it sorted. This was worrisome for us because neither of us were in a position to personally visit the office where it was stuck. I was here in Bangalore (I still am), thousands of kilometers and Ruchi was at-least an hour-long train journey from Guwahati and was not at all comfortable on going on her own.
I waited for some more time before my patience finally ran out and I seeked help from someone who I knew could help me and help he did. Couple of messages from him to the concerned department and the passport was dispatched within the next couple of days or so, much to our delight!
Even though we were happy because Ruchi finally got her passport, looking back I still see that getting a passport done, as a common man is not as simple and straightforward as it is supposed to be. I was lucky I had someone to help me out with this but not everybody is lucky!
How have your experience been while applying or renewing your passport? Is the process this cumbersome for my non-Indians readers as well?