The official website for passport related information is quite comprehensive. It is easy to fill the form online and they give you an appointed time to present your form there. And you can choose a time that is convenient to you after the first one available.
They also have a checklist of proofs that are acceptable for residence, date of birth etc. One has to attach self-attested photocopies. Now last night I panicked. I knew I had to sign, but I was wondering if it has to be at a particular place, or if I have to write self-attested and then sign. So I hopped over to Indiamike late at night and asked the question. I came to know that I only had to worry about not signing over the text and can sign anywhere on the photocopied pages. I signed at the bottom of the pages and they have accepted the form.
There was another minor incident. I am extremely uncomfortable when I am facing the camera (my natural place is behind the camera) and I had to get my photograph clicked for the passport. The picture I had for the last ten years on my passport, I did not like it one bit. So I thought I can at least try to get a better one this time. When I went to the neighborhood market I found that my favorite photo shop was closed. I went up to a random one, got the picture clicked (I am a photographer’s nightmare) saw it on his LCD display, told him to print it and I will collect it in a while as I have some other errands to run in the market.
When I came back I realized that they had edited my picture (printed the copies too) by heaping a ton of makeup on my face. I hated it. I told them I never asked for any editing. They smiled and said some editing (their definition of some editing and mine don’t match) is normal. I didn’t wish to argue so I came home thinking I will have to live with this for next 10 years! Even dad agreed that I look horrible in those photographs. Thankfully I had not left this for the last day.
Now I am not very finicky about the way I look but yesterday I balked at the idea of pasting those pictures at my passport form and look at it for the next 10 years on and often. So I went to the market yesterday too (after a long meeting at office, the picture was that bad, not me kind) and got another picture clicked at a third studio. And I told them in very clear terms that I will not tolerate any editing. Then I called home to say I will be a little late because I wish to take another picture, everyone agreed, the first set of pictures were that bad! The consensus at home (led by me) is that the current set of pictures resemble me well and I am OK with it. I still remain a photographer’s nightmare.
So I set out today to the passport office, I had 11 am appointment. I was there at 10.40 and there was a mile long queue. I went up to the gate to see how my appointment would work. I figured out that people with appointments do not need to bother about the queue. But there was rush and lot of jostling around at the gate. At 10.45 the security guard (and what a tough job he has) asked the online appointees to form a separate queue. After a while, I was inside. In Hall 1 I could spot two counters catering to ‘Online applications.’ At one counter people had mobbed it and at the other there was a queue. I moved to the one that had queue. The time was 10.55. By 11.10 I was out, my application was submitted. Online counters are much less crowded than the token ones.
It was a single window process. The officer (very polite) quizzed me about my residence proof (I had many) and decided to accept my application after some persuasion. While I was at the window, an old man came asking about his pension! The officer told him the pension office was nearby very politely.
Let us see if getting the passport is also going to be smooth. But this definitely was a pleasant experience that I had with the passport office.