I got a topic to blog about (Finally, after more than a month!)
And quite obviously, it is about another round of troubles. For some reason, I often find myself in trouble through the most bizarre ways.
It all started when I went to HDFC Bank to pay the fee for a US Visa Interview (VI). I filled up my name as it should have been (and I thought it was, until 5 seconds later!) in the passport. But the snake eyes of the clerk, who matched it with my passport, found out that I had written my name wrong. According to my passport, I had no Given Name. My entire name was my surname. So I was wrong about my name all along. He told me that if I don’t fill up my name as in passport, there will be a problem in my VI. It was all weird since I have once traveled to USA with this passport, and by giving my name as it should have been. Evidently enough, my B1 visa had my name correct. The Given Name field indeed was Deepak here. It was funny that nobody had noticed that till now. I failed to notice the discrepancy for a whole 9 years.
The clerk suggested that I write my name like in passport in all matters henceforth. I didn’t think so. I didn’t want strangers to call me Mr. Deepak Ranganathan, and my friends to call me “” (I don’t know how to pronounce a nullity of characters)
I told him I’m not paying the fee. He asked me the quintessential question of modern day bankers, “Why Sir?”
Telephone caller: Hello sir, we are offering an excellent personal loan for you.
Me: Not interested
Caller: Why Sir?
“I’d rather change my name in the passport before scheduling the VI”, I replied.
So I was here in Palakkad, for a vacation of 10 days, one of my mission objectives being the change I have to make in my passport. The lesser objective was to be a couch potato at home, which would have succeeded, if not for the constant power cuts which made sure that I moved around so that I didn’t sweat.
On Tuesday, I set off on my crusade to the passport office – a grueling journey of 3 hours in shaky buses with little padding on the seats and not enough room for your legs. It was close to 10am by the time I reached there. The queue was already a gargantuan slithering python. Slowly it moved until there were about 10 people ahead of me. It was 1pm. Closing time already. We pleaded and cried to the lady at the counter. It was just a matter of 12 more people. She was ruthless when she asked us to come back the next day. After having so many trysts with trouble, I should have seen this coming. I start to wonder if a little optimism is a dangerous thing. It seems like that to me. Murphy’s law is a fundamental principle around which the world revolves.
The next day, I caught the 5am bus, so that I will be in the forefront in the queue. Luckily enough, I was about 20th (!) in the queue at 8 am. The counter opened at 9am, I filed my application by about 10, and I was told I could collect my passport back at 3.30pm. I had to kill time till then. ( Wandering aimlessly in Malappuram was better than a bus journey to and fro) I had my breakfast, then went to an autowallah and asked him to take me to any cinema where a good movie was running. Unfortunately (again!), there was only one where a morning show was there. The movie was “Malabar Wedding”. I hadn’t even heard of it until then. As my luck would always have it, the movie was a bore, except for a few scenes which were humorous. There were like 10 people in the entire theater.
It was about 2pm now. I went back and waited in the passport office. By 4, I was back in the return bus. Later that day, I couldn’t sleep on my back, nor could I stand up. My buttocks hurt because of 12 hours of journey in the last two days. My feet hurt because of hours of standing in the queue. But, as a consolation, I got my passport corrected.
I’m not frustrated by the whole incident. I think I have found an equilibrium with the whole trouble-seeking phenomena. Nowadays, I just blog about the trouble I faced, with an air of a connoisseur carelessly using French terms to philosophize. Sigh! That’s life!