It’s unbelievable that we let four whole months pass by since our initial attempt to get the kids’ passports. And out of four whole months, two whole months were summer holidays, when we could have picked any day to go to the passport office without having to yank the kids out of school. Yet we waited till the very last day of the summer holidays.
We knew it would be drudgery taking the kids to the passport office. Amit left home at 6.15 a.m. to get into the queue early. There were only 30-40 people ahead of him. The token counter would open at 9.30 and would issue up to 250 tokens or until 10.30 a.m., whichever came first, so there was a bit of urgency to reach early. I intended to reach with the kids only around 9.30, but traffic was surprisingly light, so I left home at 8.15 and reached at 8.50. Much too early. Only after I reached, did Amit leave his place in the queue long enough to find out that he was in the wrong queue. He took a place in another queue – now there were 100+ people ahead of him.
The downpour last night made the long wait bearable. The kids and I found some deep shade to sit in, and I took out their colouring books, so they were happy for a bit. I’d also carried lots of snacks and some water, preparing for a longish siege, which was just as well. We got our tokens just after 10 – 105 and 106. Now we could go indoors. There was a huge hall with lots of chairs and a few fans. Luckily, it still wasn’t very hot. There was drinking water and toilets which were – at that early hour – quite clean. There were seven counters, but only two were manned (by women, actually, so can one say “womanned”?). They were on token 9 and 10 when we got in. By 11.30, they were at token 40 and 41. At this rate, we’d be here at least until 3 – and that’s without counting on a lunch break. The kids were behaving well, but that couldn’t last very long.
Amit went up to the counter and asked them if they would expedite our case. They agreed, and five minutes later, they were done with us. Not that we were done, of course. Something was scribbled on our forms and we were directed to the Policy section on the second floor.
Here there were only a handful of people. Our turn came in less than five minutes. The woman at the counter barely heard us out and told Amit to go around to the room behind; the kids needn’t go. In a few minutes Amit was back. It wasn’t all bad. According to the passport office requirements, adopted children should have their photo on the court order. In our case, there was no photo. The Policy folks said that if we could get a letter from the adoption agency with the photo pasted, that would do. If we could come back tomorrow, the same token number would hold. If not, we’d have to get a token again, but we wouldn’t have to go to the ground floor section, where we’d spent an hour and a half waiting. And we needn’t bring the kids.
So right now, there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic. We should be able to get the letter soon enough – at any rate, a whole lot sooner than getting the judge to stick a photo on the order. The only hitch is that they want to do the police verification for the kids. Normally, it seems, they don’t bother for minors. In our case, they will do the police verification in both Bangalore and Pondicherry. That could take some time. Apparently, we’d better not plan on taking a foreign vacation any time this year.