Now you may be wondering what is so interesting about getting a passport. You fill out your passport application, book an appointment, submit some document, get some verifications done and voila! You have a passport. All of that is true but the reason I am sharing this story is that it was a remarkably interesting, and unexpected, journey for me.
Let me start by setting the context. I needed to get a passport. And I had about 2 months to get it in because I was expecting to travel abroad soon. So, I set about getting the application done. Some friends told me that they could put me in touch with people who could help guide me through the process and stuff, but I chose to do it myself and see how it worked out.
Now, some of you may say that I could have gotten a tatkal passport, but I honestly felt I would have time to get it through the regular process.
Getting the passport application ready
Once I had the application ready, all I needed to do was book an appointment at the Passport Seva Kendra. But when I saw the available dates in Bangalore, I saw a minimum wait time of about 6-8 weeks for the appointments. That wouldn’t do because I would have had to wait another month or so to get the passport and that would be AFTER my trip abroad was expected.
I was stuck and was wondering if I should have just gone for a tatkal passport when I remembered something a friend of mine had told me. She had gotten her passport done from Mangalore since her husband was from there. The main thing that I remembered was that she had told me that the PSK there was not crowded.
With a possible ray of hope, I started to research applying from Mangalore and realized that Bangalore is the regional office for Mangalore too. So, it didn’t matter if I applied from there because they will anyway process the application in Bangalore. Armed with this knowledge, I chose the Mangalore PSK and went to the website to book an appointment.
Booking the appointment at the Passport Seva Kendra
When I saw that the earliest, I could get an appointment there was within the next week or so, I was thrilled. That is when a thought occurred to me. I was due for a bike ride and Mangalore was just 350 km away. So, if I went on my bike, I would get my bike ride and have transport when I was in Mangalore to go to the PSK. And this is when the fun started.
I logged back onto the website and waited for a few days for my chosen date to open up for bookings. There was no rush, no tension, and no panic that I would not get the date I needed. I also called up a friend of mine and asked him if he’d want to go for a ride to Mangalore.
The plan was to leave Bangalore on the bikes Thursday and check into a hotel in Mangalore the same day. The next day, Friday, go to the PSK and, if everything goes well, chill in Mangalore on Saturday. Sunday was to be the ride back. Monday was tagged on in case there were any delays or hiccups. As it would turn out, adding Monday to the itinerary was a particularly good idea.
The appointment at the PSK and why adding Monday was a good idea
On the appointed date my friend and I got on our bikes and headed off to Mangalore. It was a pleasant ride and we even stopped for a cup of multi-layered tea just before Mangalore. Once in Mangalore, we check into our hotel and I got ready for the next day.
When I visited the PSK for my appointment everything was going smoothly till I ran into a rather grumpy official. He claimed I didn’t have one of the required documents, and I claimed that it was no longer needed. We argued for some time and he then sent me to another official. This time the person was a very polite and reasonable chap. He told me I had all the required documents but there was a small error on one of my documents. Apparently, I had forgotten the digital signature verification on my Aadhaar card. This is where that extra Monday came in handy.
He told me I’d have to come back again next week and gave me another appointment next Friday. However, I explained to him that I had come from Bangalore and was due to return on Monday which made it almost impossible for me to be back on the following Friday. He thought for a while and then asked if an appointment on Monday morning was fine and I happily agreed.
How going to Mangalore helped
The following Monday, after having spent the weekend exploring Udupi and scuba diving, I was back at the PSK and this time around, my work did get done. Once that was over, the rest of the process went off like clockwork. I completed all my verifications and about a month or so later, I had my passport with me! As it turns out, it was a good idea to apply from Mangalore.
The first thing I learned was that the process of getting a passport has been simplified so much that you really don’t need any middlemen or agents for it. Whatever information you want, it’s available on the website. You can fill the application online, submit it, pay for it and even get your appointment online. When I decided to go to Mangalore, I KNEW that Bangalore was the Regional Passport Office for Mangalore so I knew my application will eventually be referred to Bangalore and that’s what I needed. Since it is not as crowded as Bangalore PSKs, I got my appointment and the second visit on convenient days as opposed to accepting longer wait periods.
Unfortunately, the trip that I had done all this for was later cancelled. But, on the bright side, not only did I learn about this interesting little tip on getting a passport, but I also got a great trip out of it. And, I was also introduced to a new hobby, scuba diving!