A trip to the Bangalore Passport Office. Or, in other words you could call it a patience testing (to the maximum possible limit) endeavour to find out something very, very trivial.
I went to the passport office (PO, hereafter) on a request by my senior to check on something regarding her visa. My job was to enquire about the status of her visa application. This, in an ideal world shouldn't take more than 5 mins. But, in India, where an overwhelming number of people want to go abroad (mostly for economic reasons), took me about 4 hours.
I was warned well in advance that there would be a huge rush of people and so, I should reach the PO by 9:00 a.m. But, me being me, I got up really late, and somehow managed to hail an auto rickshaw, and after paying the auto wallah for his commendable effort in fighting the infamous Bangalore traffic, reached the enquiry counter at about 10:00 a.m. Phew!! 1 hour in the horrendous traffic!
The first sight that caught my eye as soon as I reached there, was at least a 100 people sprawled over the courtyard like space just outside the enquiry counter. So then, I asked a lady there if there was a queue for enquiry. She told me, with a 'duh' look, that all the people I saw here were actually in queue, waiting for their turn. She also told me that her number was 49 and that she was here since 8:00 a.m. So, to get into this invisible queue, I had to first get a token from the counter, and my turn would come when the number printed on the token was called out. So, I got the token, and guess what? My number was 131! Yes, I was wrong. There were not 100 people in the courtyard, but 130 people before me. Holy crap! So, now I had to wait so long....I thought I might have to wait till about 5 p.m. One good thing was that I had brought along a novel with me.
Now, let me describe some among these 130 people. Some had come with their entire family, mother, wife and kids included. And the kids, as you know, would never sit in one place. They had to just keep moving about. Looking at them, you'd think this was some very nice picnic spot. One particular guy had come in Bermudas, and a sleeveless T-shirt. Maybe he thought himself to be an American/European, or so I assume. Now this was not a beach and neither was the sun warm and gentle enough for sun-bathing. There was scorching heat, enough to instil the fear of falling sick due to the heat wave at the end of the long wait for my turn. Then there were quite a few people who had this overtly annoying ring tone on their mobile phones-the song tujhe dekha to ye jaana sanam-at the loudest possible volume. I've never come to hate a song as much as I hate this one now. To top it all there were very few chairs, almost all of them occupied, and the ones that weren't were under direct sunlight. So, one had to look for some respite under some shade beside small decorative plants, and even these were hard to come by.
By 11:00 a.m., only the first 12 had managed to get through to the enquiry counter. This gave me a shudder, when I calculated the time it would take for me to get through. It would go way beyond 5:00 p.m. And since, the PO closes at this time, I figured that I might have to come the next day as well. But thankfully, at about 1 :30 p.m., they asked half of them to go to another counter, and so I finally had my turn at about 1:45 p.m. Here the procedure was very simple. The person at the counter looked at the documents I had brought and sent me to another floor in the same building. It was lunch time when I reached there, and so, I had to wait another 15 minutes. Once the lady here finished her lunch, it took her less than 5 mins to explain everything to me.
Once I was out of the building, I couldn't help cursing the entire procedure, which wasted so many hours of mine. I was totally famished by this time, and I had no intention of spending another minute in that place. So, I quickly hailed an auto to come back to my sweet haven called IISc.