28 December 2010

A funny Tuesday Morning

It's a funny tuesday morning, in an extra ordinarily cold December. There's sun outside, but the inside of the house is freezing and I'm listening to breakfast songs, though I have already had breakfast and happily crawled back into bed. I'm listening to:

I've just browsed through some college friend's websites and noticed that life's moved on with them. One's married with baby, one's engaged and well, others are travelling around the world, while here I am in bed, on a perfectly fine Tuesday listening to songs such as this, back from college... suffering from an extraordinarily slow server which is making my life miserable as I try to attach some music to this post.

I'm trying to put my finger onto what I feel right now, it's different.. Kind of like, how we felt the first day of the new school term, waiting for the bus that's delayed post the pick up time. Or maybe like those people at pit stops during races, waiting at the edge of their seats... this probably, is the most pointless post to date... i'll leave all of you with this lovely, goosebumps inducing dance from the show "So you think you can dance"..

22 December 2010

Indian Passport Saga- Tatkaal

This post is written using information gathered through personal experience and should not be taken as actual, factual advise given by someone in the know. Please get in touch with the passport authorities, if unsure about anything. The numbers are available on the websites.

Status: Passport damaged

Due to: Frigging rain coming through the window onto the table

Step 1 (a): Ask an agent, who sends a sheet across and says Fill out the sheet and send it to me. So I say, but no, I need to know what documents I need to have in place before I can submit. Don't worry madam, leave it to me. I will get it done for you, just fill out the sheet and let's get an appointment. <sheet filled out and sent to agent>

Step 1 (b): Get onto the Regional Passport Office website. Then re-route back to Kendra Seva website. And then back to the other site. Which one is which? Find the toll free number, call to inquire into services offered and the differences between each site. Firstly they picked up, and then I got a very friendly operator tellin me: Kendra Seva is the place to go for passport queries if you are a resident of Bangalore. RPO is for all those who do not live in Bangalore. (this service is also avail in other cities like Mangalore in Karnataka and in Chattisgargh). You need to register online and then book an appointment and come visit us and get your stuff done.

I already have an appointment booked through an agent.

It's ok madam just register yourself. You'll need it to even keep a track of your application.

Step 2: Register
self on the Kendra Seva portal. Then look up a relatively easy to use website trying to find out what documents are required for Re-Issue of damaged passport. There are two main categories: damaged but where features such as date of birth, number and photo is still intact and then damaged beyond recognition. Tatkaal is only possible with the first category.

1. Original passport pages- photocopied and self-certified. This means photo copying the passport and then signing (certifying) the copy by signing on it. This can be done when submitting the application.

2. Proof of present address (only required if there's a change of address from that in passport). If you are presenting bank statements, be sure to have the branch chop the statements and sign them in order for them to be accepted and the statements have to be a running back account (savings/transaction) for the period of a year. If your address is incorrect or incomplete on the bank statements, you need to present a valid address proof (check with your bank) and have it changed prior to requesting a copy of your statement. HDFC bank takes anywhere from 5-7 working days to have this whole procedure completed.

3. Affidavit L: the format for the document is on the Annexure list. An affidavit is a legal oath either written or sworn in court. For the purpose of a passport, it's a written document. I went to Mysore Bank area (Chickpet). First I got some non-judicial stamp papers (Rs 20), the sort that has the rupee amount as a letter head and then got a typist(Rs 20) to type out the information as per the format. Then I went over to the sub registar office near Abinay Theatre and had them emboss the paper (Rs 20) and got back to the notary to have him chop and sign (Rs 50). You could just get one of the notaries do all of this, at a price of about Rs 150. If you have an agent, they would help you get this done as well.

4. Proof of Date of Birth: If you were born before 1989- you could submit your birth certificate. Mine's issued by the Chief Regsitrar of Births and Death and it does not have my name. This is acceptable. If you don't have your birth cert, you could use your SSLC or 10th marks card. I just
used my passport as by date of birth proof, which I could because it wasn't super damaged.


Now, for the harder bit. My passport was issued outside the country and I have had two prior passports that had expired. I did not have the other passports with me, and had not undergone the verification as is required by the current passport issuing standards. This would hold true for all those whose passports may have been issued in India, but were issued prior to the verification techniques used now. For eg. if you had been issued a 15 year passport in 1995... Because, as always I needed the passport on Tatkaal, and could not go through the normal procedure, I had to procure two additional documents.

5. Affadavit I: To procure this is the same as getting Affadavit L. Format is available on the site in the Annexure/ Affadavit tab.

6. Annexure F: this is the docum
ent that got me sweating. What this is, is essentially a verification certificate issued to you by someone of authority. Nope, not a gazetted officer. It needs to be someone like IAS, IPS, IFS officers, Magistrate in high court or a secretary, joint secretary or above of the state government that you live in or the central government. The format and the complete list is available in the Annexure/ Affadavit tab. This is not issued easily, as if incorrectly issued, can result in prosecution of the person who is issuing the document.

In short, you need to know someone who knows someone who can vouch for you and knows the person who is issuing it before it gets issued. And yes, you guessed right. I didn't. I found out the hard way, having spent the better part of a Monday touring/ asking people at Vidhana Soudha, Vikas Soudha, the multi storey building (MS Building) and the Commissioner's Office in Infantry road. Finally a work mate of four years offered their hand, and well, it was a very helpful hand!!

As an alternative, I found another way you can get this. Locate your DCP- district commissioner of police. Pop over to their office, (3:30 pm- 4:30 pm) and have a chat with them. They will not sign the document, but in my case the kind DCP said he would get the police to run a verification check and then post checking, sign Annexure F. This can take a while, it's been a week and I'm still waiting on the the document.


So.... hopefully you get all of this done by the appointment date. You could book a few dates just in case, being su
re to cancel the dates if you don't need them. This ensures other people get the spot. Print the appointment slip, be sure to take 2 copies of all the paper work along with the original documents, along with 2 passport sized photos. This is not required, as the photos are taken at the counter you submit your documents, but I took them just in case they had any technical issues. I do believe these documents can be scanned onto the site as well, but I did not do this, being a bit old fashioned myself. Hence, will not comment on it.

My appointment was at 10:30am , reporting time was 10am. I was there at 9:40, lined up at the entrance as per the guard's guidance. Got through the security check, then the verification check (where they scan your appointment bar code to make sure it's not fake and do a quick run through your documents to make sure they're alright- before issuing you a token). Then there's three different counters- A, B, C. A is for normal checks, admin and scanning of your documents. If you're successful here you move onto B. B is the government check point, where the veracity of your various documents is run under the scanner. And C is the passport issuing check point: they take the final call. And the cool thing is, they had all the previous passports of mine on file, which was very very very impressive. My first passport was issued at an embassy in 1992- I didn't even know they had scanners then!

I got out at 12:
40 pm with a happy slip. The acknowledgment slip. Over all, this Kendra Seva is a great initiative. While I did spend a lot of time in the office, having been to many bureaucratic organizations over the last two weeks, I can say that the Kendra staff are friendly, polite and quick compared to all the other sectors.... especially the police! So that's why this post is called a saga....could it get any longer?!

13 December 2010

Wiki Borders

I've been following up on the whole Wikileaks hungama and every time I read anything I wish I was back in Uni. All those subjects about borderless worlds, that cross nationalities and various other traditional structures such as age, race, gender and all those debates stick to the back of my mind like a moving screen wallpaper.

It was predicted, by someone I can't remember that the importance that we associate to the categories I have mentioned above is being eroded and things like literacy and fluency in written languages are the new definitions or demographic titles. And today, nearly four years after I graduated (a semi student of media), it's come a-knocking again. It cannot be ignored.

I'm happy to say I was on the side and still am on the side that believes in the knowledge gap as opposed to the gender gap when it comes to new age media wars. Sure, at a cultural level, if in a society that favors education of male children above the education of a female child, that would cascade to an all knowing literate knowledgeable male population. But on the internet, unless I'm on a dating site, my gender nor my age and certainly my race really doesn't matter, does it?

Would you think I'm talking crap because I'm a chick?

That being said, this whole Wikileaks thing is so exciting... It's strange to see the American government scrabbling around to try and get their hands on Assange. What with all their nonsense on the freedom of speech and what not. Sure, it's like your mum reading your diary and then having it published so that all your relatives, crushes and classmates read your silly, dirty and naughty thoughts. A bit sly and agreed, a bit cheap.

But why America's screwing with Assage (the publisher) and not the one who leaked the documents (Mum) is beyond me. And then we have this amazing power that the internet holds to bring people together. Like the anonymous hackers who have been targetting sites that have withdrawn their services- paypal, mastercard, amazon... I think, when Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, if he would've ever imagined a war like this.

A war in which the world is divided into halves based on opinion, a war fought not out in the battlefields but in the comfort of homes, in front of computers. A war with no bloodshed, but dollars lost *ka ching! A war with anonymous heroes not fighting for glory or honour but fighting to have a choice.

Ahhhh I think we have stumbled onto something new folks, something much much much more comforting (cause I don't own a business, and the most precious things I have on the net are my blog and my Facebook account). This war, I like!