Trust what you have

I recently applied for a renewal of my passport on the highly automated MEA site. You fill out a PDF doc and upload it, fix your appointment, pay online and et voila – show up at the office.

For a renewal, with no change of address, the site stated that I only needed to take self-attested copies of the front and back pages of my passport.

Nothing else.

I was suspicious.

It can’t be, my mind said.

My family had recently been through harrowing time documentation wise at the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office)
What the FRRO wanted in person was way more than what was listed on site. They had been back and forth with all sorts of documents including wedding cards and marriage certificates.

With all these stories fresh in my head, I proceeded to take copies of all address proofs I had.
My driver’s licence, my Election card, my Adhaar Card.
I even printed out my bank statement and took new passport pictures (as per norms).
Heck given my past experience at the RTO for my driving license, I would have produced a man, a wedding and a card if I had to.

I couldn’t help it.

I belong to the take it all, better safe than sorry, be prepared (Girl Guide) group of people.

I drove and tweeted frantically about parking availability to all, and had many respond to me about where to park.
But, instead of parking right outside the office I parked 500 metres away at the back, assuming that the spots in front of the office would be full.
They weren’t.

Everyone has time based appointments so the crowd is controlled.

I arrived at the office and from the time I entered, to the time I left, it took me 30 painless minutes.

At the entrance were 2 lady attendants who efficiently whisked the appointment lines through the system. (Believe me they do a MUCH better job than the men)
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) who has taken over all passport documentation has a bunch of smart and courteous people stationed at the office.

I was given a number and then my coupon number was announced.

I faced a calm uniformed man.
I reached into my envelope to take out the potha of papers I carried.

The gentleman smiled and asked only for the self-attested photocopy of my passport.

But I also handed him over a photograph.
After all I went yesterday to get an official size photo taken with my “hair done” only to look good in my official document for the next ten years.
(My last visit to the passport office was 5 years ago)

He smiled again and said, “Please look into this camera” and proceeded to click.

Can I ask him to take another one, I wondered.

No eyeliner, unpinned hair, weird expression.

So now besides lamenting my look of the day (read dowdy), I thought to myself this is just level 1.
Level 2 would definitely involve some detailed bureaucratic questioning.

So I was sent to “level 2” where my coupon number flashed, and some officers from the MEA rechecked my details for accuracy and verification.
They ticked, underlined and carried out other assorted strokes on said papers, and handed me back my old passport.


I was then told to fill in a feedback form at the exit and leave.

I was not convinced. This was all too smooth.

“How long will this take?” I asked the officer, refusing to leave and desperately clutching at straws.
Anything to prolong my visit and reassure me that this really WAS the passport office.

“Oh, you should get it by speedpost in 4 days” he said.

I was greeted by name at the exit and was handed over a feedback form to fill.
Very good, excellent, excellent, excellent – I could not believe I was giving feedback to a government office and it was all excellent.
I walked out in daze.

And heard a beep.

I had already got an SMS from the MEA informing me that my passport had been processed.

15 minutes later I got another beep.

“Your passport has been printed”

I tweeted- to thank @MEAIndia and TCS.

While driving from the office, I thought back to a few years ago.

During the time I was training for my Integral mastery, I was told by my coach to minimize. For those who are familiar, your developmental path involves working with clients and simultaneously with an Integral coach who helps you with your own personal growth and development.

I was constantly annoyed with my coach.

All my exercises involved doing away with. Emptying my cup. Slowing down. Being present to what is and paying full attention to it.

My personality type enjoys being busy, overwhelmed, and efficient. This means being over-prepared.

I remember having a call with him when he cut me short and said, “Aparna, what do you believe you are doing on this call?” I as usual, blurted out 5 different things.
He said, “Slow down, breathe and focus on my question, what are you doing on this call?”
And he then helped me slow down and narrow my perspective out from the personal journal I was regurgitating to him.
To just focus on the point of THAT call and her questions and get in touch with ME, rather than everything that had happened in between calls.

He said at the end of our call that day, “Learn to trust that what you have is enough”

It’s been a long and tedious journey and most days I do. I do.

But there are some things inbuilt into my system that due to past experiences, just don’t allow that.

However I now know, perhaps I need to trust the system too.

Even if only in bits and parts.

Because today, the system worked.

Seamlessly and beautifully.

And that passport of mine is going to sport one hell of a bewildered but happy smile.


I spoke to the lady in charge of the TCS bit at the passport office, and she said they process 300 passports a day just in this office. I think she said 30,000 a day all over India. I need to recheck.

She also made me smile widely when she added she was doing a PhD simultaneously while working, and her topic was “The Impact of E Governance in India”

Women rock!


  1. Wow, what a great positive experience you have had from a government office. I hope everyone has a similar experience. I can’t say I am looking forward to my renewal early next year but your experience makes me hopeful. Will swap notes with you when I am done with mine. Thanks for sharing this experience!


Leave a reply