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ComradeKaramchari Seal

Take care that you don't apply for a "Jumbo" passport - which is 60 pages instead of the usual 30. It is handwritten, and has a non-standard serial number (1-digit less than usual) and is known to cause no end of trouble at foreign embassies and visa offices. This bit of useful information is not found on an application form, but is gently handed out to you when you ask for one. I suspect the Comrade Karamcharis (TM) don't appreciate the extra work.

Me: Do you issue Jumbo passports?

Lady at counter 1: Jumbo passport chahiye? (Rhetorical repetition of my request?)

L@C1 to Man at counter 2: Jumbo passport issue karthe hain kya? ("Do we issue Jumbo passports?")

M@C2: *Nods head in response?*

L@C1: Scribbles "Jumbo passport" across my application (Oh the agony and care it took to fill in the ICR boxes without characters touching the box edges, and all for this?)

L@C1 to me: *with a note of warning* 500 Rupees extra!

me:  *submissively* Ok, no problem *followed by a swaying of the head from side to side that Indians understand to be a yes*

L@C1: Wait in line at counter 2 to pay cash

[Wait 1 - notice people heading off to a corner and figting it out for a piece of thread - think, look around - notice fellow applicants with their applications sheafs bound with said thread  - join crowd, notice the ice pick tethered to a railing - prick thumb with tethered pick while poking a hole in my paper stack of application annexures - wait 1 for thread - procure thread - wait 1 - examine thread, dive into crowd and re-procure thread without missing metal edges - wait 1 - knot - wait 1, think - procure second thread - wait 1, suck injured thumb now hurting - knot second thread as a safety - wait turn]

M@C2: *Throws me an irritated look even before I've opened my mouth, I shut my half-open mouth and quietly slide the papers and the money*

M@C2: * Hurls back my additional 500 Rupees without an explanation and continues to scrawl something in a book and type my name into a computer terminal *

Me to M@C2: *Nervously* Don't you issue a Jumbo passport? ... *No response*

Me to Man behind M@C2: *Repeat the question with more confidence - loudly - BUT not disrespectfully - and not with too much confidence - and with a pleading look*

MBM@C2: Useful insight into the workings of the Jumbo passport system as explained above.

How I love my Comarade Karamcharis (TM) - they rule!

P.S. The term Comrade Karamchari was invented during my patient wait in the queue at the passport office. How I love the mental imagery it paints.

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cheeni

April 2009

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