Thursday, September 10, 2015

A pleasant surprise

In Mumbai, the city that "never sleeps", the city that is the "financial capital of India", the city that "is a global melting pot of people from every where, I  had a pleasant experience the other day. It is when I went to the "Passport Seva Kendra" at Lower Parel, inside the Kamala Mills compound to renew my passport. The office is located right at the back of the compound, with many towering office buildings before it as you walk to the rear. 

At the door, a couple of security guys look at the papers you have with you and verify that you are indeed meant to come on that particular day and at that particular time (your agent made sure of the date and time when he applied for the appointment online). Once they have done that, you go past their make-shift blockade into the first room where you basically submit some of the papers which you brought with you. Then you are allotted a token number, with which you go into the second room. You join a biometrics queue (section A), and when your number is called, you are assigned a "cubicle". The lady there asks you to show her the original passport etc., then takes your photo, then gets your fingerprints, then thumbprints, then asks you whether you wish to pay Rs. 35 for the SMS service that will update you on what the office is doing regarding your passport renewal. 

After this, you wait for your turn to go to a third section, which is either section B (for those who are applying for a new passport) or section C (for those who have come to renew their passport). At this cubicle, they re-check your originals (I had carried a lot of papers, but they checked only my Aadhar Card and the old passport). Then, the old lady asked me to wait for a little more time, and for the last part, I went to yet another C section counter (that is NOT Cesearean section, ha ha). Here, the lady who "manned" the counter took a look at my token, made some alterations on the screen of the computer in front of her, and announced that the task was done, and I was to collect a final receipt from the "Exit counter" just near the exit. 

And that's it. It took nearly 2 hours, but it was a smooth affair, all in the comfort of an air-conditioned suite of rooms, with properly appointed toilets, a snack bar (the food was contracted from a third party and it was a bit pricey, but it was good) and sweet-smiling staff. Everyone stayed calm through the various stages of their application. I saw just one woman all in tears in a private glass-cubicle at one point. She was arguing something with a bunch of cops and a woman official who were all trying to placate her. I never realised what was happening, as I had to move on. 

As soon as I left the office, an SMS popped up ... it said "your passport has been sent for printing". Wow! Incredible for a governmental agency to achieve this level of speed, wouldn't you agree?

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