The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Nov 26, 2009

Aux Armes, Citoyens!

Unfortunately, there's no point in me taking up arms. Having abandoned my Indian citizenship, there's little I can achieve by grabbing a weapon. Other than bludgeon myself to an early grave, of course.

I had to go to the High Commission the other day to surrender my desi passport. You know how badly Indians are treated by their bureaucracies, right? Naturally, I forgot that if a desi national is treated like crap, the desi national who abandons his desi citizenship is treated like the worms on that crap.

And so it was that I (along with a hundred of other traitors) was given a token and asked to wait for my number to be called. There were eight counters for various consular tasks, and, cunningly, the display only showed numbers for seven of them. Of course, the counter for passport-surrender-monkeys was not among those displayed.

As soon as the hundred or so traitors realised this, there was a mad stampede towards counter number 8. A paunchy fellow there collected the forms and surrendered passports with an air of abject despondency. He could scarcely stomach our countenances. When one of us asked a question, he would flinch, then jeer. He wasn't particularly bothered by the out-of-order arrival of tokens making their way to him. Until, that is, he caught sight of my face, and started like a backfiring engine.

'What is your number?' he said.

'383,' I said.

'Why are you here? I am handling token number 341,' he said.

'Bollocks,' I said, politely. 'You just dealt with number 379.'

'No,' he said, lying through his teeth.

He then pretended to tidy his desk.

He refused to accept my application.

A woman bearing token number 330 magically appeared in front of me. I have no idea where she crawled out from, but in view of the crush of sweaty bodies all around me, this was a spectacular achievement.

The paunchy fellow accepted her application.

'Form a line,' he said, peering at me again.

'Why?' I said. 'You are not calling out our numbers.'

'Yes, I am,' he said.

The man had absolutely no acquaintance with the notion of truth.

'332!' I called out.

A troubled murmur ran through the crowd.

'332?!' cried one elderly fellow. 'I have number 305!'

There was a brief pandemonium whilst numbers 306, 309, 322 tried to array themselves behind the elderly man.

The paunchy man took the opportunity to slink off.

'What!' cried the elderly fellow. 'Is it lunch-time already?'

Minutes later, the paunchy liar came back. By then we had sorted ourselves into a semblance of a queue. You understand - we are not English, really - we are incapable of spontaneous queueing.

Two hours later, the fellow took my application. He looked longingly at the supporting documents, wishing no doubt to reject my case. But there was nothing he could do other than growl at me to get into another line to pick up my receipt.

And there I stood for another hour or so.

Got a receipt finally. I'm £90 poorer, to boot. I have to go back in a week to obtain my certificate of passport surrender.

And that's probably going to cost me another half a day of my life.


bint battuta said...

You had to pay to give up your citizenship? Do any other countries demand that?

Fëanor said...

Nope, I have to pay to get a *certificate* stating I have given up my citizenship. You have to think like a bureaucrat, you see...

Space Bar said...

i am gobsmacked - seriously - you have to pay to surrender your passport?!

Fëanor said...

Well, you know, there's administrative work involved in accepting my surrender, and (no doubt) security issues to be resolved, and also the cost of sending the darned thing back to headquarters to be pulped (or possibly sold to some black-marketer, containing as it does a valid resident permit for the UK...) These things cost money, no?

km said...

Good ol' Amreeka is easier that way. No trips necessary to the Indian Consulate to give up your old passport.

Fëanor said...

km: eh? the indian consulates in the US do not require payment to surrender one's passport? or can you just mail in passport+payment?

C K said...

I laughed out loud after reading this and Wife looked over her shoulder at me.

"It's him! Hmm, what's 'desi' by the way?"
She rolled her eyes and mumbled something about being ignorant. Oh well.

Hope that the chap is off sick the next time you turn up. :)

Fëanor said...

CK: that chap wasn't there but his colleagues were good enough to screw with me - they misplaced my file! Took almost 2 hours to locate it. Anyway, it's all done now.

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