3 pm. I have just stepped outside a building. It is 41 C. Very few vehicles ply on the road in this intense heat.
I am smiling ear to ear. I am euphoric. I want to jump, dance and yell at the top of my voice.
Background – After procrastinating for a year, I finally went to get my passport renewed.
Fear was the main reason for this procrastination. I was scared of our Government’s love for inefficiency and delays. (Please don’t say you don’t agree with me on this.)
Along with the fact that I didn’t have a valid address proof (having stayed in 5 cities in the last 10 years).
Turns out that I am not the happiest guy at 3 pm in Hyderabad. The gentleman beside me is.
The 5-hour wait and struggle has created a bond between us. Starting at 10 am, both of us stood in a queue neither of us aware why it was formed. (The passport office gives time slots; yet with the life-long habit formed, everyone still stands in a queue.)
He is smiling crazily at me. Is it really over? He asks. I smile back and say yes.
Post our smiling session, he asks me where the nearest zoo is (he is new in town).
I am a little flummoxed. I can’t make out why he wants to go to the zoo after completing the passport process.
Doing a quick Maps search in my mind I realize that I have never visited one in Hyderabad. I tell him I can guide him to the nearest bus stop or train station, not the zoo. He laughs as if I have cracked the biggest joke of his life.
He waves at me and we depart, both of us pleased that we have completed the task of a lifetime.
Epilogue: 5 days later I receive another shocker – my passport hard copy. Last heard, it took a minimum of 2 months.
The ministry of external affairs has tied up with TCS, India’s biggest IT company, to provide better passport services. Having experienced the benefits, I for one will definitely root for the public-private partnership model. 🙂