Epic Story of An Enthralling Official Trip!!!

What happens in when people of varied age groups and different parts of India with different tastes get together?

They either sit in smaller groups and enjoy among themselves or they become individuals…this is a common feature, but our office trip which had about 20 odd people proved all the said features to be ridden from the surface of earth.

You ask me how that can be; there will always be differences…blah…blah…blah. Read on…!

We started on early Friday morning…..and then picking up people on the way we hit the highway at about 8.10 am. We stopped for breakfast and refreshing ourselves, as some of us had started very early that morning and were still sleepy, due to our own comforts of life. So the refreshments had really rejuvenated the souls and there was fun thereafter.

We got into the bus and resumed our journey, after a sumptuous breakfast, filling the growling tummies, people were resting heavy on the chairs of the bus…so it was time to wake them up.

The music could not be switched on, so we resolved to people singing and dancing with loads of masti and fun. That broke the initial hiccups of ice-breaking and kind of everybody loosened up.

The reluctant people also gave up seeing others and broke into the mood. Thus, rolling in laughter and fun and pulling each others leg longer than usual, we reached the place and then it was only food on our minds till we saw the scenic river….!

I and my friend initially took a walk down the river and attempted to touch the waters but then beaten by the drizzle to the sudden rain we had to trace our feet back to the hut that we were supposed to share for the night.

The rain stopped and the whole lot of people wanted to take turns to the river, this time too we joined and could not wet our feet in the water.

We both took an oath saying, “We will break the Jinx…either together or separately, and we will see that the foot is dipped in the water.”

Thus, we got into playing various games such as, carom, shuttle, and cricket along with the different cameras clicking the beauties.

There were loads of men, who surrounded the ladies who were very less in comparison to the men folk, and they had to crave for attention amongst the few.

Some men did not bother to disturb the beauties…though each one of us was in different shape, size and color. So the variety was the essence of attention. 😉

I wished I wasn’t married coz I was the only lady who was married and that made me ‘a species in its own territory’. Well, all good things don’t come in good packages. So had to be fine with what was offered to me, but even though I did not want to be addressed as ‘AUNTY’, I kept my share of vengeance by calling that same person, ‘UNCLE…’! 🙂

That became the way of addressing for both of us for the one and half day we spent together. I was also thinking it was getting a little boring when there was no much attention, one as I was married and the other as it is there is no much chance of doing things that were being done….?!

I don’t understand the fact how is that married men still do feel it comfortable to pursue younger women, but the Good Looking and Smart Women, like me are avoided for a simple reason as such as marriage. Well, will address this later; let me get on with the writing of my experience.

Just then when I thought I was getting bored, people were already lying on bed, sleeping and catching a nap, some talking about their own experiences, explaining the beauty of the place, and all varied kind of talks, it became evening and the tea got served.

We had tea and settled down for rounds of talks, some went in to refresh, change in to more comfortable clothes, become prettier, and things like that went on and we gathered around for fun games.

The games were real fun and it actually made things even easier for us to mingle and break the little bit of inhibitions that we had.

Suddenly, I heard my name from all corners and I felt much needed, and then there was a round of singing songs, and I too rendered a romantic song, battered as much as I can.

I finished and I could really see a very few listened to me. I did not know that many had listened as I heard more claps join, but was wondering did they ever listen to me to just joined to clap.

The ignited camp fire was blistering away with its golden red and yellow streaks…with streams of hot air blowing our way; we were sitting closer to it. With its smoke hitting us we sat there to listen to the songs, that were sung, the talks and discussions, that went on.

Somebody out of the blue, said, ‘I can’t say this, coz, there are girls’. We all girls got curious and wanted to know what it was. We tried our best to pull it out from the horse’s mouth but could not due to over burdening of crowd. So, that still remains to be settled, we need to know what is that – that is about the Symbiosis Girls…! 😉

Now the setting sun and the onset of night brought the colored bottles out and it got drowned through the men’s throat and it added vigor to the silent night.

The real fun started after this…we girls had wanted to do a trek in the night as it was part of the package. But, as we heard it from the resort authorities, we needed to book the guided person before the evening sets in or as soon as we come in. We did neither of it and it was considered a risk to be doing on our own.

The authorities said, “If you guys are fine with the risk involved, you can go around with lamps, lanterns and torches…we will provide. You can take a walk along the river-side…”

The men are every ready with task that can question their ability and the fear factor…and when influenced by the inebriated spirits…you don’t have to ask.  🙂

What is more surprising is that the five ladies who were there were willing to give away everything on these people’s word…how is that?

When they clearly know that they can’t even take care of themselves in danger, how are they going to take care of so many delicate darlings at a single time…? Whatever, I was reluctant at first and then being skeptical, I joined the group, unless I am left out from all the fun and frolic…and did not want to be the one left all alone in the Hut of Ours, for the night and hear to all the taunts later when they come back.

Nevertheless, I decided to join them…! The fun part was yet to start…! It was about 11.30 pm when we finally came to go on our walk…with a lantern that good hardly lighten the way till few yards and a torch that can only light your feet and nothing else…! 😉

So, about 13 guys and six ladies, join for the Night Walk, though not in the same order, but I name them here, less they won’t know who they were…!! 😉

It was Vikram, Zabeer, Purna, Vishal, Indarjith, Dinesh, Vasu, Venkatesh, Prakash, Sumit, Visheesh, Ravi, Raghu and all the six beauties set on their walk…with the little light that could guide the way. We all gathered outside the barricade that brings us into the wild and leave behind the civilized parts of the world.

As it is the fear of standing unprotected with a whole of group of inebriated spirits beyond recognizing themselves…wasn’t enough Visheesh, the He-Man of the group says, proudly, “I saw a snake crawl by into the bushes there…where?” God, only knows everything in the front is only shadows of bushes.

We had to believe him…I hear a call out for my name and they say, we will follow, Kavitha for reasons known to him…I could not pin point who was it but, then going with the chorus, I led the whole bunch…!

I like an Aaj Tak correspondent, hoping that it might scare the people who want to walk…Start rolling the camera…Announce…Listen people, “Our Correspondent, Visheesh ji has spotted a snake crawl into the bushes on your right, during the broad day light, so there more chances of finding it in large numbers as it is night time, I request all of us to be in the group and walk along with the group so that we avoid crossing their paths or our paths..”

I don’t know who heard me or not…I was/will stick to the group and not be left alone…! 😉

I was wrong when I said, Ok, coz I thought they all are spirit-fully up for tasks would listen to me…No, I was proved wrong, each one had a direction and the rest did not mind where they were going…as it is the guys were not enough I had tough time maintaining the girls…they wanted to be let loose and roam as and how they want….!

I really want to know why they called out my name. Did they think I was the lazy dumb of the lot or they thought me to be sensible…?! Whatever?!

So, we started walking with one nerd far ahead of us…! Shouting my name, and asking me where the hills are? I said, we will walk towards the hills taking stand on another nerd, who said we go near the hills and walk back.

Now, this nerd was more smarter than the others…calling out loud slogans, “Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai, come on Kavitha, let’s go…”

I was wondering what do I do now…? People had already vouched for him and his slogan acting on their manhood made them follow him…some sane person said, ‘No let’s go the reverse direction, then the hills in picture…’and what not.

There were a few people who wanted to sit still in the darkness and have a long drawn inhalation…I Wondering what to do with these people. Walking was at least a better idea in the wilderness, sitting no…!

Then they found a lamp post and sat around it with the lantern in between and started the non-inhalers lung to damage more…!!

People could not take the foolishness more…If the walk wasn’t enough people were asking for topics of discussions under the lantern light and wilderness as if it was a Great Day Light and discussions would make them wiser than they are…!!

I also gave a topic as if I did not want to be left out…!

Some people got bored or irritated with the inhalers walked off and started getting back…later it was reconciled as it always happens, the manager apologized on behalf of the inhalers and promised it won’t happen again and pulled us all together till 1.30 am in the morning and then split to sleep…!

Day one spent; equally good…we went to take the second day in full josh starting from 6.30 in the morning…!! I came to know that the hills that we wanted to walk to the previous night was just a Mound on Earth…and it was just a little ahead of where we sat down and dispersed…!

What a luck, we had…!

The day two was equally fun with real water this time at the river side at the Dubbare Elephant Camp and the frolic in the bus. The dark desire of dancing with the most beautiful girls in the bus, was kick started by Raghu, who was silent for most of the time.

I guess, he had a plan scheming in his mind for long and then finally, he set into action, like the Rajinikanth dialogue, – ‘Late Ah Vanthalum Latest Varuvom’ – meaning, “Even if it is the end of things, I can still do wonders…!”

He had the privilege of dancing with three beauties back-to-back…and leaving a smile on envy on other faces who could not do it…even after expressing the desire. Raghu had really schemed it well…he said, as innocently as he could, he was about to get off…and with the flow of a romantic song started dancing with the beauties and the beauties are to be appreciated as if they were waiting for the chance…got up from the seats and gave him a roll….! 🙂

Finally, it was Prakash who could not get his desire full filled….! Slowly the momentum set in and everybody had their share of dance, with the girl….!!  🙂

A very good trip ended with making a whole load of friends…and enemies as some could dance and some could not…some called the other brother and became a sister…!

The whole trip was exciting and as I could not ask for more, I was voted as the Runner-Up for the title of Ms.Project, which was least expected by me. I was happy to be beaten off only by a minimal margin of another three votes. Did not know, I could gather so many votes…I was surprised and still am.

As soon I got off…the pain and tiredness that was hid in the laughter came into existence and all I wanted to was to hit the hay as soon as I got back…!

‘Preferred Word Among People – Marriage!!!’

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World-over there are different people and different customs and creeds…but one thing most common amongst these people is the concept of marriage between a man and woman.

Ridiculous comments, funny comments, logical comments, illogical comments, comments against the verdict or for the verdict, whatever state of it…it is still the most commonest habit of mankind be it the desserts of Africa, the lagoons of Burma, the dormant volcanoes of Maldives, the versatile country India, the Hep Cultured country America, the Vagabonds of Australia – be it anywhere on the Planet Earth…It still exists and it makes an ever lasting make on the Human Kind and on the face value of it – It still Rocks…!

No matter, how much ever you dread or enjoy it…you seem to be a merciless victim of it.

I casually, strike a conversation with a friend, who is victimized or rather in it for almost a decade now, wondering just about the fact called ‘Marriage’.

Believe me it is a FACT not an Concept….coz, there is no absolute theory to it neither can we make one…it is just there.

Why we ended up discussing about it…well, that had a different flavor to it.

He said, “To have such a wife is luck…”

I said, “Yeah, the wife also has to be lucky in that case”

We looked at each other and laughed, but then it was a valid statement.

Two people, with acquired dreams and desires of a partner who will fit within the said requirements and demands, has to be met with a certain amount of ‘Factors of Luck’ or if you simply want to call it – ‘Similar Likes and Dislikes’.

Now, the critics jump and say, “Opposites attract”. Yeah, definitely they do…but do they sustain?! No one knows, we all go by saying it.

Imagining two people under the same room liking things that the other person does not seem to be inclined is like living as strangers and still being together…it is even worst than friends who understand and do the things they like in common…?!

Certain things of commonness is required…?! Don’t we?!

Having said that, does it become all that glorifying if the partners have things to do in common and the partners strike in accordance every time…it kind of becomes cliched and there is nothing that is great than what they want to do?!

Is there an ideal situation, then?

An ideal situation, kills all the enthusiasm and overtly wacky situation puts you to extremes that you don’t want to venture into.

Yeah, taking the Y-Generation into consideration there is a lot of different happenings and different aspects to the same thing. They are a generation who are not satisfied with the usual norms and are the people who ask questions for all that they see, feel and touch, literally!!! 😉

Now, for them the ‘Ordinary is Boring’ and the ‘Out-of-box is Interesting’. Is there as such thing?!

The marriage is not interesting so, Live-Ins are interesting, but with the same partner not interested?! So it goes on….the things of likes, tastes, perception, feel, and the right effect with the sensory organs decides – What we want, rather than the norm.

The X-generation, was more abiding and undergoing types. They accepted the norms as walks of life and did what was required.

They knew, opposites do attract, lived with it, though it was the boring part of their life. Some denied it, some stormed it, some scarified it, some reeled it, some real-ed it…so it sustained in all weather conditions!!

The generation that went by before them had no ‘BIGGER’ opportunities or stands as ‘Take Every Advantage’….so they lived with what was offered to them.

They did not think about tastes, likes, desires, dreams, ‘Life at Large’, make it ‘King Size’, or ‘Have I made it Large’ slogans to help them decide, what they want to do in life.

They just did what their parents did and their forefathers and mothers did or even if they deviated, they could only relate to something that their neighbor did, that they did not.

Loving thy neighbor was not literally taken in those days, but now yes!  🙂

Have they been successful?!

Let me think about this statement….deviating a little, I guess for certain parts of their life yeah they have been successful.

How can I say that? How could I? Have I grown old and started talking like most mothers do – “I did not do anything like that. I did not have choices like that in my life. Am I not happy with your father?”

Now, jokes apart…that generation has been happy. You like it or not they have been successful to quite an extend.

There are people in that generation, who have tried to bridge the differences, bring in romance in their lives, kindle the joy of being together, wrap everyone around with warmth and love, there has been exceptional togetherness, there is a mutual respect and a mutual give and take.

It went on for generations and generations like this…no different from yesterday!!!

Is being mutual is the thing that is missing now?!Image

I am not sure, but there is certain amount of thing that is missing and in spite of it being missing there is so much of it day in and day out.What could that be? Is that my search….I am thinking, listening….Amway! 😉

There are several months of it – when you know people of the prescribed ‘Eligible Age’ excluding the ‘Life of IT’ians’ being married left,right and center in and around where you live.

What is that of the IT’ians you ask, even though you don’t will tell you –  their eligibility comes in a different package….!

In the yester years – it was an era of ‘Government Bridegrooms’, now it is the era of ‘IT Bridegrooms’, so the context.

The IT’ians eligibility is – Join a reputed IT company, be in till about 3 years, go to Onsite for about six months to a year exactly, be it South Africa or Iceland onsite is onsite – Mind you, Rascals …!

Come back, look for the perfect IT Bride and then do a whole load of Gtalk and Video Chat and then fix-up the D_Day and get married….!

So you see, the generation has changed, the people’s lives have changed, pattern, design, architect, the integration has changed but the FACT of marriage remains the same….!?

Am I against marriage….’A BIG NO’….?!

You need someone to “KILL” all along or at least consider him/her as “USELESS….” or to just to prove yourself as “USEFUL” as you can be….!

I am just wondering, what it is that gets to the word ‘Marriage’ and why with so much of complexities it is still the most ‘Preferred Word Among People’!

Thinking, Listening, Being in it….Will come with more….!! 🙂

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Book Review: Bala Takes the Plunge and Random Questions with Author, Melvin Durai

Balasubramaniam or Blue Submarine, as the Airport officials call him, is a B.E. specialization: Mechanical. He is cursed to be intelligent and hence he cannot do what who he likes i.e., to direct Tamil films. Like any Engineering student, Bala moves to the United States. The story progresses to his life in the America. Mostly intended to be humorous. He is almost 30, a Director of the company, flex-it, which coaxes people to buy fitness machines but yet, single. While his parents want him to get married and pressurize him, he is hell-bent on marrying he likes/loves. His search for a perfect bride lands him into situation of sorts. What happens o his dreams, his ambitions, marriage plans follows the rest of the story. Few things most of us who are going through the “Quarter Life Crisis” will surely agree with Mr. Bala.

The book is a welcome relief from the myriad books penned by different newbie Hinglish driven Indian Authors. The book is funny but sometimes the jokes get overboard. Few parts that I liked were: There should be a Dal-Mart in India (we have so many types of Dal – tuar, moong..etc). Comparisons between the East and the West are drawn very well. I usually like blogs related to Tamil Nadu as they have a charm of their own. This one was similar to that. The cricket mania, the language..et al.

Personally, I liked this book. A perfect travel read.

Random Questions (RQ) with Author, Melvin Durai, author of “Bala Takes the Plunge”

How did your close friends react to the book?

MD: The reaction is always the same: “Can we get our money back?” Actually, I haven’t forced my book on my close friends, but those who’ve read it have given me positive feedback. Some have raved about it, others have merely said they enjoyed it. (The former probably did love it, the latter probably hated it.)


Is the character Thiru, in the book, any close friend of yours?

MD: He’s a composite character. I’ve had more than one friend who were like him.

Why did you think such a story for your book, Any incident?

MD: The book arose from my own experiences searching for a bride more than a decade ago. I wrote a few humor columns about my experiences and realized that there was a lot more humor that could be tapped in a book. The character Bala isn’t me, but some of his insecurities are definitely mine.

Why writing as a career?

MD: To this day, my mom keeps asking me that question! She wanted me to be a doctor.
But I decided to follow my heart, though it wasn’t the smartest decision financially. I was meant to be a writer and find it very fulfilling.

When will your next set to release?
I’m not sure when my next book will come out. I’m still working on it. Hopefully
in 2012 or ’13.

How long did you take to write this book?

MD: About four years. Much longer than I should have taken. I didn’t write
continuously, sometimes going a few months without adding much to the book.

What is your mantra to avoid writers block?

MD: My mantra is “Just write.” It doesn’t matter if what you write is terrible or
uninspired. The “delete” key is your friend. Use it frequently.

Ruskin Bond loves to write in his little room. Few writers love to write in the
garden. So which is your place?

MD: I can’t say that I have a special place. I do most of my writing on the dining
table. Other times, I write on the couch or in bed. At least one of my three
kids is usually around, so I don’t have the luxury of uninterrupted writing.
That will change in a few months, when my youngest goes to kindergarten, so I
hope to be more productive.

Thank You!

Be my Anti-Valentine. Will ya?

Love is in the air! Everyone’s going mushy and lovey dovey! Even this space has changed its background. The previous six posts talk only of Love… and of all kinds of Love… a post on Love of an elderly couple…a post on Love of a lovely couple who are tying the knot very soon, Thanks to this space…a post on the feeling of Love itself! All this has truly set the mood for the upcoming celebration of “Love” – The Valentine’s Day!

Isn’t it an awesome story, that a Saint dies because he used to conduct secret marriage ceremonies in defiance of Claudius II – “the cruel” emperor of Rome. He became a martyr and the day he died began to be celebrated as sending the Love messages day and celebration of Love, in Rome and amongst its Catholic followers. All this ensued about 1800 years ago. But, unlike any other celebration or festivals, this day has ceased to be linked with a specific religion or community. There are no rituals which need to be performed, no customs that need to be followed, no mass to attend, no candles to light…Just be with your Love and make him/her happy with a gift or a message or a special arrangement.

This makes me think, why do I need to be looking forward for only one such day? I can do it all 365 days of the year. I can do it whenever I want. My Love is not restricted to be celebrated only once a year. I can celebrate it anytime. Anytime I am with her or not with her. Anytime we miss each other or are happy. Anytime we have kissed and made up after a fight. Anytime. And, I think all those in Love would agree with me.

Then why just this one day? How did we never hear of this day, when we were growing up? How come so many associated days with it now, like Chocolate day, Rose Day, Promises Day, Card Day? The answer shoul not be difficult to answer by anyone. It is simple, and should be obvious to everyone – Commercialisation! How else do you expect the Telecom Industry to charge premium rates for SMS and calls that day? How else do you think Gifts and cards Retailers would boom their sales? How else would Chocolate Manufacturers rake in moolahs? How else would the Flower Marketeers  ask exhorbitant prices? How else would the “General” People who love to be fooled by everyone would get another chance to be fooled?

Think!
Think!

I am not a pessimst, in fact, I am better known as an optimist. But, I just can’t stand this commercialisation of a feeling/emotion/state as beautiful as Love. It is even getting worse now. First, the Moronic Negligent Youngsters started the exploitation of this day to fulfil their stupid desires. This gave the even bigger Morons of the political system of India to cause even more damage, insult and injury to the nation.

I am not professing anything against this “day”, or any other day…I just want people to …Think!

Hope that is not a difficult task, after all everyone “thinks” so much for the gifts to buy. Spare a thought on this, if you can!

Leaving you with some figures you might find interesting. If anybody can get similar data for India, I will be grateful.

  • Hallmark began selling cards in 1913. Since then the market for Valentine’s Day cards has increased beyond lovers to include parents, children, siblings, and friends.
  • About 190 million cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card giving occasion.
  • 65 percent of households send greeting cards on Valentine’s Day.
  • 73 percent of Valentine Day flowers are bought by men, while women buy 23 percent of Valentine flowers.
  • About 45.8 percent of U.S. consumers will exchange Valentine’s Day candy. About 75 percent of is from sales of chocolate
  • Americans will spend about $14.7 billion in retail sales on Valentine’s Day in the United States.
  • The average U.S. consumer is expected to spend $103 on Valentine’s Day gifts, meals, and entertainment, down from $123 per person in 2008.
  • And you thought SHE had spared me? Part IV

    “Oh! Yes! Mr Deepak Kumar! We have spoken to the Leicestershire Constabulary and they have agreed to issue a letter addressed to Consulate General of India stating the loss of your passport and a reference number. You can go get it from them and make you application with the fee”. Was I dreaming? Was it really happening? After 3 months? My momentary joy knew no bounds. Had it not been so many people around, I would definitely have jumped high in the air. I was so elated with the news that I almost forgot that She plays these tricks in between to laugh at my responses. I was literally running back to the train station to head to Leicester, when I realised, that bloody if this was all he wanted to say, he could have asked his manpower to key in this message too in the e-mail. I could have got the letter and made the application straight away without making this trip twice. This was the point I realised that She must be up to some nasty tricks, and I should calm down till I get the passport. So, I reach the Constabulary, tell them what I was told in the CGI Office and Voila! The constable types this letter immediately: 

     
     

    The actual letter issued by Leicestershire Constabulary  (Few critical details blackened deliberately)

    The actual letter issued by Leicestershire Constabulary (Few critical details blackened deliberately)

     

     

     

    I simply could not believe it. After this agonising wait and trauma, I was going to have a new passport. It was certain. At least it seemed so. Next day, I was before time, for the first time at the CGI Office. One of the first few to enter the office. My application with all the documents except the letter which I was carrying was already with the Passport officer. I had also carried £ 84 in cash as the fee for issuing a new passport in UK, so that the process is not interrupted in between. The officer took the letter from me, attached it to my application, asked me to change the date of application and sign at the changes and then directed me to the counter where I needed to pay the fees and hand him the receipt. I paid and handed him the receipt. He asked me to come back after two weeks to collect my passport, as that is the time they generally take for student’s passport. I was so amazed and relieved that I cannot explain it in words. It all happened so smoothly that I could not believe it. The Lady Luck must have gone on a short excursion or must have been busy somewhere else. All this was totally unexpected in her perfect plan, I thought. But, I was soon to be proven wrong. I reached home in 3 hours and was unable to wipe that smile for all those 3 hours. I was exhilarated, but not for long.

     

    Those two weeks seemed the longest wait amidst all the waiting I had done. All the planning was taking place. I would get the passport on 12th. Fill in the TOC (Transfer of Conditions) form of UK BA and post it by 13th. Should be able to get the passport back by the mid of August. Enough room for delays to accommodate, and still make it for my scheduled trip to India in the last week of September. All this was well worked out. Or so I thought. I had ignored Her in all this planning. Still, it was 12th of July. I was there again. First in the queue at 2:30 pm. Passports were supposed to be collected only in the second half of operations of the office. Excited, I reached the passport officers window. He went through his file and disappointedly looked at me and said, it is not ready yet as the passport printing machine is under repairs, come back next week. I was a little disheartened, but still hopeful that one more week…No problems…will wait! Another week passed and again on 19th I was standing in the front of the queue. I should have realised that day that standing in the front of the queue was not that auspicious for me, but did save a lot of time. This time, when I was on the window, the passport officer was alarmed himself. He said that it does not take this much of time; there surely is some problem with my application. He asked me to come back again the next day, he will make a check about where is it stuck in the process. The machine had started working fine and all the pending applications were cleared. So he needs to ensure as to where the problem is. I was ok with the response as he had promised some action. This time instead of going back to Leicester, I stayed over at Birmingham at a friend’s place.

     

    Next day again I was in there and the officer also had the answer with him. “Patna Office, from where your passport was issued, has not sent back your PVR. We are waiting for that. In fact, after you went back yesterday I found that your application is awaiting PVR, so I sent another fax to them demanding the PVR. Let’s hope they send it soon. Until it arrives, nothing can be done!” WTF? I had shivers down the spine. Goosebumps all over my body. What do I do now? How does Patna office get involved here? My God! They do not utter a word from their mouth without being bribed, how will they send my PVR (Police Verification Report)? Even if they accidentally send it forward, there is nobody at my home to attend to the verification and bribe those Policemen who visit. This is a well known fact to all those who have applied for a passport, that your PVR is not sent across till you bribe at least Rs 500 to Policemen. Now what do I do? I will have to inform my family. They will panic for sure, but have no options available. Again, you can witness a brilliant plan at work. My Lady Luck had worked on each and every intricate detail. The intricacy of this plan was further realised when I requested the Passport officer at CGI, Birmingham to pass me the telephone number of Patna office. I wanted to take a chance of sorting things myself first. High Hopes! I know! But it was more of desperation.

     

    Anyways, I made the call to the Patna office, an international call. Explained my situation to the first person who picked the call, he transferred my call to somebody else. Again I blurted out the same story, again a call forwarded. Third time lucky, I spoke to the right person. He asked me to hold on as he somehow remembered receiving such a fax from Birmingham. He drew out the fax or my application; I guess and said “हाँ भाईसाहेब! हमको ई बताइए …जब आपका पता झारखण्ड का है तो PVR पटना काहे आया है? इसको तो राँची जाना चाहिए ना? हम हियाँ से झारखण्ड में पुलिस भेरिफिकेसन कैसे भेजे? हैं? बताइए? आप fax राँची भिजवाइए ऊहे लोग कुछ करेगा …हम कुछ नहीं कर सकते| परनाम!” (Dude! Your passport has an address of Jharkhand state so the PVR request should go to Ranchi, instead of coming here to Patna, Bihar. We cannot direct Jharkhand Police to do verification for us and hence send your PVR request to Ranchi. We cannot help.) Shocked? At least I was. A fear unlike all the fears, except and of course what happened after the initial shocks, had gripped me. Everything started flashing in front of me. My passport was made in year 2001, and although the separation of Bihar and Jharkhand had occurred, Jharkhand was yet to open a passport office. Hence, my passport was made in Patna and hence this office has sent a request there. I immediately ran back to the officer. Waited for my turn and blurted out the problem. I asked him to send the request to Ranchi. He said, he cannot do that, as the Place of Issue on my old passport is Patna, and even if he does so, Ranchi office will come back saying that they did not issue it and hence they cannot carry out any requests for the passport.

    Another deadlock? I was doomed! What should I do now? I will never get my passport. My Lady Luck has perfectly crafted this plan. There is no way out!

    (A new drama unfolding…only one more part to go!)

    And you thought SHE had spared me? – Part III

    Days turned into weeks and months, and I did not hear anything from the CGI office. My Lady was winning bouts after bouts. I was knocked out. Completely! She had decided this time, probably, that she is not going to let go off me…easily! She had had enough of these small little quarrels and wanted some big action. A total dominion. A war to prove her final authority. A trap from which I cannot find my way out without cutting off a limb. Quite frankly…I was also prepared to do so.

     

    The wait, as I had said, was never ending. After a few initial mails I guess CGI had forgotten about me…or so I thought. I would ring them up religiously every day, but no one would pick up. Here’s a BIG information for all the Indians in UK, the CGI, Birmingham office have officially stopped entertaining phone calls, so no point calling on the numbers provided by them on the website or directory listings. Anyways, when after one my exams ended, I paid another visit to the office in May last week. Yes…you heard it right…it was May last week already. Almost two months had passed since I lost my passport, but I was unable to even put forth my application for a new one. As usual, at the office, the queues too were never ending. From 1st floor where the main office is, through the stairs, down to the ground floor. I was probably the 150th person in the queue. People of India, if you are listening, consider this as my humble, sincere, honest request, that it is high time we check our population. Soon there will be no part of the world left where we Indians won’t be queuing up for one or the other thing. It’s not a joke anymore. You thought it was bad in India? Well…Wake up! Wake up! We have not spared any part of the world now. You think Government Babus are inefficient only in India? Wake up again! They are Indian Babus…inefficiency is probably a criteria for their selection. Anyways…let’s not go there. Let’s stick to the wondrous work of My Lady Luck!

     

    With so many trips, so much of running around that small office, I had become friends with every nook and corner, except the Babus of the office who have probably no knack for friendship. Forget friendship, they are absolutely emotionless. There was a huge emotional scene that day. An Indian family who had got British citizenship and British passport wanted an immediate/emergency visa to be issued to them as their mother had died in India. But, they had been back from India only a few days ago after visiting their ailing mother. The visa officer, in such a situation, was demanding a death certificate from them. Can you imagine? The lady, whose mother had died, was barely in her senses because of the shock. And the brilliant officer was demanding a death certificate of her mother, someone who had died only a few hours ago. Amazing! Isn’t it? Well! That’s a dose of Indian Babudom for you.

     

    My Lady Luck was undeterred with all this. She kept her focus on to me. Continuously! When finally I arrived at the Passport Officer’s window, after an agonising wait of two small hours, all he had to say was that I should come back after a few weeks; and they are in talks with the Constabulary to work out a solution.

     

    How amazingly encouraging that was? Only a ‘few weeks’ more of wait? I can do that. Have been doing it so far, can do it further. Add to that, the reply to my another question of why no one picks the phone here? – “Oh! We have stopped entertaining phone calls as we do not have the man power to manage that…if you have any queries come directly to office”. There were several implied conclusions in the statement. 1. Do not bother to call ever again. 2. Do not bother to e-mail, ever again. 3. Keep running from Leicester to Birmingham, which is four hours and £ 10 to and fro by Coach, or two hours and £ 20 to and fro by train.

     

    All righty Sire! Whatever you say! As long as you are on to my case, I will do whatever you ask me to. Back to Leicester. The wait was even more agonising as I had learnt that, I will have to reapply for my Student Visa i.e. a duplicate of the one that was lost along with the passport. The procedure takes four to six weeks and costs £ 380. I had not paid this much, even when I had applied for it from India. In India the fees are only Rs 12,500. I had no source of income, my bank balance was depleting at the rate of knots, I could not ask my family for more money as I would have to tell them the reason, and exams are appearing as a swaying sword just inches above my neck. Brilliant situation! Wasn’t it? I need NOT to reiterate now, how perfectly planned this war was. She had thought about each and every detail, while I was completely off-guard and clueless about each of my next step.

     

    Most of the June passed by amidst examinations, career events and prep for dissertation, when on the glorious morning of 27th June, I received an unexpected e-mail. I had been called to the CGI office as Passport Officer wants to meet me. Wow! They finally write to me, after almost 2 months. They had the manpower this time who could key in a sentence on that e-mail “Kindly report to Mr Hazari Lal, at CGI, Birmingham office at the earliest”. And off I go!

     

    Soon (not to be confused by this word as it involved 20 minute walk to Train Station Leicester, 40 minute walk from Birmingham New Street Station to Jewellery Quarters where the office is and another rigorous wait of one hour), I got a chance to speak to Mr Hazari Lal, who recognised me immediately. What he said afterwards was –unbelievable – to say the least. I could not believe my ears. How was that possible? Had she given up on me? Or was this another one of her tricks? I would soon find out. The Officer-in-charge for issuing new passports at CGI, Birmingham said …

     

    (He He He! Sorry! More to come…in the next parts! If you like or do not like what you are reading I would be very delighted to read your comments. Please spare a few seconds to appreciate or denounce/criticise/mock me! Thanks!)

    And you thought SHE had spared me? – Part II

    7 days and £ 80 poorer, I had no clue as to what my fate was. Will I ever get a passport? Will I ever get to leave this country? Will I be deported? What? The questions kept on haunting me and I had no answers…from anywhere. I had written to the High Commissioner, I had written to the Consulate General, I had met my University’s Student Welfare Officer, I had met 5 Constables. There were no answers. I got a reply from High Commissioner’s office the next day, which was again a disappointment as it stated that only the Consulate General Office in Birmingham could help me. I was off for another trip to Birmingham. In the meanwhile, I had procured all the other documents required for the application of a new passport in lieu of the lost passport. A stamped affidavit from Notary Public stating I am not seeking asylum in UK – Check. Four Passport Size photographs stamped by Notary Public – Check. Copies of my old passport and Visa – Check. Cost involved in Affidavit – £ 8 for Affidavit + £ 60 for registering with the Notary. Cost involved in Photographs – £ 7. Total expenditure till 8th April – £ 165. Net result – Zilch! Add to that the misery of not being able to speak to any of my family members, so that they do not panic…especially my Mom!

    Cheers to the Lady Luck! For the first time ever, she was able to kill my fighting spirit. On the bus, that day, on the way to Birmingham, for the first time I was literally begging her to go away and leave me alone. I had accepted my defeat. I was not willing to fight her anymore. But, she…no no no…she was not done with me yet. She wanted her revenge and made sure it was slow and painful.  

    I was again at the office. This time at the correct window at the first go, but only after a good long wait of more than an hour. Mr Hazari Lal, the Passport Officer at CGI, Birmingham was there. He went through the policy change document. Spoke to the Officer in Leicester Constabulary. He was more bamboozled than I was. At loss of words, he stammered and muttered “Oh…aa…mmm…then…then…this requires a change in the Gazette of India…I will have to escalate this to Ministry of Foreign Affairs”. Change in Gazette of India? Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Was he playing with me in those dire moments? Was I hearing things? Was he serious? Am I dead?

    I had to actually pinch myself to get back to senses. He then asked me to leave my application with him, not to pay my fees for the passport at that moment and once he has a clarification from his superiors he will get back to me. He asked me to leave all my contact details with him and wait. Wait. With no specification on the length of time…With the change in Gazette of India involved…and With Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India coming into picture…I could, at that time, only imagine about how long the wait is going to be?

    With heavy heart and heavier steps, I walked back to the bus station. My wait had started…an almost never-ending wait. One of the e-mails in between had surprising new information from the CGI. It was only the Leicestershire Constabulary in the entire UK which had brought in such a change of policies. All other Constabularies were still taking the reports for lost passports. Oh Wow! How could I have not seen that coming from the Lady? Of course! It had to be only my constabulary and on the day these changes were brought into effect. Well done lady! As always…Perfect! This implied that there could be no change in the Gazette for one constabulary. It also implied, in a way, that I am stuck in UK for life…At least, it seemed so, at that moment.

    (Part 3 Coming soon…The war for the Passport continues and add to that a new battle for the Visa!)