The Fees queue in an adjoining hall was a joke. 25-30 people crowding around, and a person softly speaking the names – almost inaudibly. And if you did not show up then, your file went to the bottom of the queue and you were reprimanded if you asked questions. A mother of a young baby pleaded for her fees to be taken since the baby was crying – she was sternly told to wait till her name was called. I found it hard to believe we were in an India circa 2010.
It took 45 minutes of being squeezed and shoved around in that queue till I was finally able to pay the fees. If you are paying by 500- or 1,00- rupee notes, you have to write the serial numbers of the notes in a book along with your mobile number. This doubles the processing time, since almost everyone has atleast one of those notes.
I finally exited at around 5 pm. It was 5.5 hours since I had entered. The process should not have taken more than 30 minutes.
The irony of it was that people kept telling me that I should not have gone through an agent because “he takes care of everyone.” Presumably, people like us are rich lodes of money so the incentive is there to keep the system difficult so that we never even think of wanting to visit the passport office personally.
PS: I got my passport delivered home in a month. That too was a story in itself — had to go personally to the Speed Post office since they refused to give it to any other family member. As we say in India, “All izz Well – that ends well.”