Passport to Progress

‘I was watching you, I was sitting on the Mango tree’ Lulu said. I had gone to the Passport Office in Thane to renew my passport. Standing in a long serpentine queue was not the best thing to do on a Friday morning.

I have the same feelings on Friday mornings which I have while waiting for a train to arrive at a railway platform. I always wonder in both the situations why time does not fly then and why does it move so slowly.

The serpentine queue was moving forward at a very slow pace. It ended where one man, obviously a passport officer, with hassled look on his face, sat behind a table. And behind him was a split Air Conditioner’s unit! The man had placed his table in such a way that he could get a little breeze generated by the fan in the AC unit. This was in the verandah of the building and there was a mango tree behind the passport officer.

‘So you were on the mango tree! Did you notice the arrogant way the passport officer spoke to me? Somebody must teach them how to conduct themselves!’ I said.

‘What happened then?’ Lulu asked.

‘Against a set of questions that enquired whether I was convicted, or I was accused in any criminal case, I wrote ‘NA’ meaning Not Applicable.’

‘Who do you think you are? Are you a political leader? Only those persons can say Not Applicable with some justification.’ Lulu observed. ‘Ordinary mortals like you must write ‘No’ plain and simple.’

‘That’s the point passport officer was making, and he was quite arrogant.’ I said.

‘Ok, ok, just look at his job. He deals with more than hundred persons in just three hours. Look at the working conditions. Horrible! The passport officer just checks whether your papers are in order and gives you a token number. It is not a job that is going to excite anybody in this world!!’ Lulu sympathized with the passport officer.

‘Yeah, he gave me a token number and then I had to stand in another queue. Another seventy or more persons were standing there.’ I said.

‘Perhaps that is an exaggeration. If you wish to do anything in India then you cannot avoid crowd.’ Lulu said, laughing and sitting now on my shoulder.

‘But they can surely provide a better office. And better facilities. After all, we pay taxes.’

‘Oh, yes, they surely can.’

‘Why don’t they do it?’ I asked.

‘Because you elect such corrupt people’s representatives’ Lulu said laughing again. ‘The corrupt MLAs and MPs do not pay any attention to a common man’s problems. If you want to see change you must have more responsible people in the Assembly and the Parliament.’

‘Ah! This is a popular argument!! Heard it many a times.’


‘How can I get them to contest elections? Where should I find those responsible citizens?’

‘They were there in the queue in the passport office with you. Perhaps they are leaving the country! And that is not being very responsible either,’ Lulu said dancing on my head.