Dec 27, 2016

When I met the persona of mine I thought I had won over!

All these years, I've never been comfortable applying for any personal identity card. Now I might appear giving you a free licence to imagine why was I that way! Well, before anything could get to your mind, let me clarify that my conduct record has been as decent as it should have been to apply for any  identity card issued by the Government of India. While applying, we generally need to look at the documents to be submitted and there starts my 'Greek and Latin' story! 

Almost all the times the documents need to be submitted have been available with me. In any case, I would go through the list of documents again and again, and again if it's a critical ID card that I'm applying for, and I go ahead with the submission of the application form. I would double or at least triple check my name on the application just to be sure that I've not misspelled it. I must have written my name at least for one lakh times by now, but when it comes to submitting any application, I check my name as if it has a habit to go wrong at right time! Right from applying to getting the ID issued successfully, I keep thinking of the whole process as if there could be any failure occur, it would occur to me; which in reality has never occurred so far.

Knowing myself and the churning I usually go through, one day suddenly I found myself in a situation where I needed to apply to get my passport reissued. Passport is not like an ordinary ID card; it's a big thing, at least for the likes of my state of mind. My first passport process rather happened easily to me as I was staying in a college hostel and more over my phobia for ID card application was still not mature at that time. Now this time, the situation was entirely different. I was not staying in my native state. I was not staying my own house. I did not even know which police station my stay area would come under. One habit that I'd developed over many years came to my rescue which was to check with at least ten friends about anything I was not aware of. I discussed with my friends and colleagues to get to know the passport application process better. I did enough googling before I started filling the application for finally on one fine Saturday. 

The first hurdle was that I'd been negligent about changing the address on my Aadhar card to the new flat's one. As per the rules for passport reissue, only an Aadhar card would do the job and here I was in a situation where I could not catch that low hanging fruit instantly. I went ahead and applied online to get my address changed on Aadhar. That wasn't it as the process to get a new card might take a few weeks! Then I went through the document requirement list once again. To my support, a registered rent agreement was mentioned in it. I had the registered agreement on my name with the next hurdle. I did have the xerox of it and the original was with our house owner who had been staying in Australia. To my belief, the original had flown to the down under comfortably. Appeared funny to me but I had no choice than messaging the owner if there was any 'second' original in India with their relatives. After a few minutes, I got a response saying that I will be given the original in couple of days' time. I thanked the owner in a sheer disbelief. 

I had applied for a Tatkal passport and hence I got my appointment on an early slot. I kept all the documents ready; checked through them again and again. I took xerox of the big bunch of my documents. I verified my name on the receipt of the application a number of times. I silently told within, at least a million times, that 'all must go well'. 

Visit to the passport office #1 (22 February, 2016) 
I was there in the long que in front of the passport office half an hour prior to the reporting time on the day of my appointment. They do not allow anybody else with you into the passport office. So I was on my own after I walked past the main gate. After the security check I found myself in a rather small que where the tokens were being given. On my turn I confidently submitted the big bunch of documents and kept waiting for the token. The token issuer thought  it otherwise. He looked at me and asked for my marriage certificate. I did not have the original copy of it. For a short while I  pretended not hearing him. He asked me again for the marriage certificate. I silently handed over the xerox of it. He said it would not do! I was asked to walk out of the que and if I had any questions I was told to meet the passport officer inside. 

It was a madam in the cabin which was located  in the passage between A and B counters. Passport office had three counters A, B and C. One must pass through three counters for getting the passport reissued. There was another long que to meet passport officer. I finally went inside and was reiterated that the marriage certificate was a must! Until that moment I never noticed that there was a field called 'Spouse's name' on my old passport, which had been kept blank as I was unmarried when I applied my for the first time. This time, I had to submit the marriage certificate for the fact that I was married. 

Something appeared funny to me, despite of that day's rejection. Inspite of getting married in a registrar office directly, I failed to submit the certificate for the first time it was asked in two years! The certificate later reached me by courier and I rescheduled my appointment.

I broke down, however. 

Visit to the passport office #2 (29th February, 2016)
I could get through the token que this time, despite of submitting the marriage certificate before even showing the application form. 'A' counter was offloaded to a service company. No questions were asked; only the xeroxes were scanned and returned to me. A photo was taken; I did not insist on keeping my spectacles. I silently kept them a side when told to do so, which I never liked otherwise. That day's aim was to get out of the passport office with approval receipt.  I was asked to proceed to the next counter, the B counter about which I read a few discouraging stories. 

B counter is where the government employees sit to do the certificate verification. When I was checking my original documents before the 1st appointment, I suddenly saw that the dates on the registered rent agreement were handwritten underneath the stroked through typed dates. It was the broker who did that inspite of charging us huge amount. Something lit up within and said if the stroked through text would create a problem! Then I got busy in getting my marriage certificate! 

At times, I become too much believer of destiny; a bad one more than a good one! It was on February 29th that I had been waiting in the B counter que and incidentally, the end date which was stroked through on the registered rent agreement  was dot on the very same date. Any person with a bit of commonsense and presence of mind would think that it was me who crossed the original dates and wrote an extended date for obvious reason. The government officer in the B counter whom I was assigned to had both commonsense and presence of mind in abundance. I denied doing it myself but I had to walk out of the passport office empty handed one more time. Bad destiny strikes better than the good.

I broke down, again. 

Preparation for the visit to the passport office #3
I had only one task at hand that day after quickly fixing up my next appointment to the day after. That was to get the registered rent agreement certified for the stroked through text. I went to the registrar office when the document was originally made. The registrar office was recently shifted to a new building. I reached the new building and the place felt utterly disturbing. I was already not feeling good about what happened in the morning at the B counter and here I was struggling to locate the registrar office. Somehow I reached my destination and met the person who got the agreement signed earlier.

I explained him why I was there, in the Hindi I knew. He looked well understood and asked me to wait. After some time I was told that the scanned copy of the original could not be accessed as the server had been down. I was told that they had to look at the original to confirm that the hand written text was present in the original copy too! Then they would certify that the original document was fine to be accepted. I was in no mood to leave the registrar office empty handed; frankly, the situation here was much easier to handle than the one at the passport office, especially at the B counter.

I insisted and got the document certified. I was given a xerox copy of the rent agreement with fresh stamps and signature. I could not believe it would work at the passport office but the staff at the registrar office was in hurry to send me off. I was 'charged' a two hundred rupees for five to six stamps and a signature. Here I was ready for my third visit to the passport office.

And I broke down again, at home of course.

Visit to the passport office #3 (2nd March 2016) 
I cleared the token que. At 'A' counter this time, it took a short while.  They scanned the documents I brought and asked me to proceed to B counter.  Again I was thinking of destiny here. My token number was displayed. This time I had to go to the officer seated left to the officer who rejected it last time. He looked at the document and at me in a weird way and asked me, what was the difference between the original and the fresh xerox with stamps. I could not help and said nothing for a minute. Then I tried to explain him what happened. He impatiently listened to it and told me that he was not able to understand what I had been saying and that I should wait for another colleague of his to call my token.

I waited again to see my token number being called by the same officer who sent me back during my last visit. I thought now what! I had no choice than going to him. I saw him in a different outfit with absolutely no different emotion! When I reached his place, he was busy rejecting another application. Then the destiny pitched in. My token number was called by another officer. He seated right to the one sent me back during my last visit; in fact, before rejecting my application he had a chat with this guy too! To my fortune, all that was forgotten by this man probably due to a phone call he got while I sat in front of him. He completed the call and asked me to give my file. He looked at me and said "You can proceed to the C counter".

I could not believe what I heard. I said 'sorry' by making a face asking him to repeat what he said. He repeated the same. I ignored all the effort I put in to get the registered agreement certified for the hand written text. I effortlessly suppressed my excitement to show the fresh copy I had and escaped to the next counted in a brisk. At C counter, my old passport was stamped to cancel and I was told to go to the receipt counter. I quickly took the receipt, looked for an exit door, never minding if it was the proper exit door or an emergency one, and came out of the passport office.

With in a few minutes I got an SMS that my passport had been sent for printing and within couple of days my passport was in my hand.

So, did I succeed? Yes, in logical terms.  No, in emotional terms considering the number of times I broke down during this whole thing. The whole episode showed me a persona of mine which I thought I had won over! The persona that used to get out of position and cry for small things/issues but used to be fearless while handling big matters. The persona that weakened me from within although I half-succeeded in covering it up. The persona that I always wanted to change about myself but loved to be so considering its sensitiveness in a true sense. Last time I found that persona within myself was during the campus placements at IIT.  After comfortably being in a convenient zone at work for many years, I thought I grew stronger and that persona of mine was all over. But this passport-episode brought one of my worst dreams to live again. Here I was aware of who I was, what I was and how less I changed towards becoming a stronger sole! Well, everything happens for good and so I think about all this. Now I have a task at hand; all of a sudden I'm not as comfortable as I thought I was, in my convenient zone,which is very much better than being blind about my true self.

Kind of 'fear' still exists to fill any application form and now my goal is, by the time I apply the next big thing I must be stronger than how I'm now. I'm not sure how but I hope I will be.

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