Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Return of the Passport Ordeal -I

I'm in Delhi again and this time around it's not a vacation or illness. The reason I'm here is to get my passport renewed. Renewed, mind you, not reissued ... read on.

Five years ago, after a lot of struggle, I was issued a passport. That passport was issued under the Tatkaal scheme. A scheme which allows people to obtain fresh passports within a week's time by paying an extra amount. The only catch being that these passports might only be valid for 5 years and not the whole 10 years. Such passports are called short term validity passports and mine is one of them.

The problem with short term validity passports is that you can't, in passport terminology, get them reissued but only renewed. Reissue means that you get a fresh passport, provided your previous passport is nearing expiration. Renewal, on the other hand, means an extension of the validity period, from under 10 years, to the whole 10 years. For example, in my case the 5 years' validity will be extended to 10 years.

Knowing all this, with complete forms, I went to the passport office. I reached there early enough to be the 6th or 7th person in the queue for the miscellaneous services (renewal is a miscellaneous service, unlike reissue). When I came to the front, I was told that renewal is going to take time ... 25 days (his exact words were "इसमें टाइम लगेगा; पचीस दिन"). He also gave me a bunch of other forms to fill. Now 25 days in babudom-speak can be an eternity. Also it requires another round of police verification.

Hoping that there will be another faster route to get it done, I didn't submit the forms. After a lot of investigation and talking to people, it turns out there isn't any faster way.

Given that I need to go for a US visa interview for my further studies, the delay in this passport renewal formality could become a disaster. My future hangs precariously.