I was asked to report at 9.45 am today for an interview at 10.00 am at our local Passport Office to get my old passport renewed. I was dropped off at the entracne to the office at exactly 9.45 am and my interview slip was signed in at 9.50 am and I had to wait in a queue for Senior Citizens for exactly five minutes before I was attended to. I needed to provide photocopies of some pages of my old passport and there was a photocopier present just twenty feet away doing that for a pittance. I returned to the counter and did not have to wait for long before I was given a token number and asked to wait in a lounge. At exactly 10.05 am I was cleared for an interview by a display board and the interview, photographing, fingerprinting etc all took all of ten minutes. I had to go to two more desks where again it was efficiently managed and efficiently looked after and exactly at 10.45 am I was out of the office.
I must confess that this was totally different from what I had expected from a government department. It was a modern office with proper signages and very courteous and helpful staff and the efficiency levels due to computerisation was simply mind blowing. The only link to the old ways of doing things was the brown paper file that they used to keep all supporting documents which I had to lug around before the last counter where I was given an acknowledgement form and was advised that I would receive my new passport by Registered Post in a couple of weeks’ time.
If only all our local, state and other central government departments could become like this, India can take a quantum leap into modernity.
My zapping did not stop there. I could not get an autorickshaw or a cab to return home. I however remembered my old mechanic who has a garage in the neighbourhood but in a more crowded place, and I called him up with a request that he get one for me and send the same to pick me up. Instead of doing that he came personally in a car driven by a chauffeur who was employed by me six years ago! It was a grand reunion of sorts and I was dropped at home all in one piece.
All in all a very unusual but fruitful day!