We got our tickets done . 8 hours of travel and our plan of keeping worse case scenario of 6 hours at the Consulate made it one long day of 14 hours. The night before I packed some sandwiches , fruits and packets of chips. Amma had never managed chiyaa for this long. We suggested her to take the kid to a friend's house nearby in case she got too over whelming.
We started off at 645. Literally ran and caught the bus at 720. Thankfully I had my kindle for company and was reading the oh do fabulous book - family matters. I never had to make a note of time .
Birmingham was a new city for us. Weirdly the place we were dropped had no cabs in sight. Google maps came in handy and the expert map reader in K did one fine job :) Finally we reached the consulate. The entrance looked desolate and spic and span! Would we be the only people and be granted access immediately to the authorities, would get an update or even maybe the passport? Sounds tooooo good to be true isnt it? Such ludicrous things do not happen even in movies now a days.
The security personnel at the entrance asked us which counter we were interested in going to. We gave him a blank stare. He decided for us. Ok goto reception counter 0 (!!!) and ask which counter you may need to goto . We nodded acquiescence .
We went to counter 0 and I said in the most sympathy evoking tone 'I had applied for my passport 2 months ago and there have been no updates . Where might be able to get any ' . The lady at the desk asked if we had applied in person. We told no by post. Her face could barely conceal shock, horror and utter hopelessness. Still keeping a facade she got her bearings and asked us to go back and ask a ticket for counter 7 from the security person at the entrance . K went to get the token and I turned around to see a sea of Indians . Yep. The room was full of Indians. It was mini India literally . All the tales of not being able to talk to an official, the pushing, pulling, pandemonium breaking queues arguments - everything that I read on the Internet came flooding to be. I geared to wrestle with my fellow countrymen and women . K came with the token and we waited for our token number to be called.
We were able to bid our time by observing people around. Every body looked frustrated and depressed and harried. People had come with kids and babies. They were having a tough time handling the little ones . The room was filled with books which even the authors would not dare to read- biographies of national leaders , treatises on treaties signed by India with other nations , books on history and on general a waste of space. We played a guessing game as to which region of India some people might be from. We also saw some boards with OCI written. We tried guessing what that might mean. Other Consular Information? But why two separate booths for that? Other Citizens of India? Why would anyone want citizenship of India after renouncing it?( It turned out to be Overseas Citizenship of India) K kept asking some real silly questions like what is the procedure for dual citizenship etc as if I was the external affairs minister or something .
Finally our token number was called. We went to the counter and I repeated my question in the same sympathy evoking sad tone. The person checked something on the computer and said its 'pvr' case. ????? Whaaa? 'Pvr police verification . Please goto counter 0 and meet the Passport Officer'. That seemed like progress .
We went to counter 0. I put on my fake tone again and asked her to meet the Passport Officer. She scribbled my name on a chit and asked me to wait and she would call me. I repeated my name close to 5 times and asked her again and again and again if she had got it right. She must have surely thought I was a bit of a thick head .
We commenced our wait to be called again . Every person and his dog was being called but for us. I was tempted to go and stand when the name being summoned was clearly Gurminder Singh and Afzal Sheriff. :( why was my name not being called???? The clock was ticking towards lunch time and I was inching towards despondency . I went and actually stood at the counter window. One official came up and asked what was I standing for, to which I said that I was supposed to be meeting the PO. He asked if someone had written my name. I acted as of I did not understand. ( dumb) (determined not to forsake my place in front of the window ) . He asked some 7 times after which I succumbed to pressure and confessed that someone had written my name. Thou shalt be summoned he proclaimed. I hung my head and joined K and his imaginative question bank.
Finally I was called and an elderly gentleman heard my summary (again in the sob story tone ). He revealed that the police official after processing might not have updated my records which had resulted in my case not being processed further . He asked he to goto counter 7 and get the details of the date police verification happened etc.
Counterrrrr 7 here we come (again) ..................