Suddenly the passport officer nudged me and asked, ‘You are so fat no? What do you eat?’
At the Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) in Bengaluru, run by Tata Consultancy Services, you may be forgiven for wondering if you had walked into an alternate universe populated by extremely humanoid robots. Though efficient and quick, the PSKs are soulless and cold, with not a smile on display and a studied lack of warmth. Everything there can give you the chills — from the piped music to the hospital-like grimness. However, the process is so fast and automated that one doesn’t really mind the lack of human contact. As anyone who has been to the TCS-run PSKs can vouch for, the systems work efficiently and technology here is a huge enabler.
The Regional Passport Offices, by contrast, are dens of chaotic inefficiency and downright unprofessionalism. Here, bureaucracy and whimsy rule, and ordinary citizens are at the mercy of babus. That’s what blogger Monika Manchanda found out when she went to the Regional Passport Office in Koramangala, Bengaluru because of some mix-up with her 8-year-old son’s passport.
A vocal and outspoken person, Manchanda, who blogs, cooks, models, teaches and is a well-known face on Indian social media (recently, she was one of the speakers at the event #PositionOfStrength organised by Twitter India to talk about online bullying, especially of women) is not used to being reduced to her body type. Outraged, she tweeted about the entire experience and then Storified her tweets. They have caught the attention of the interwebs and are now being widely shared. It seems like most of us have faced the Passport Officer from Hell at some point or the other in our lives.
Here are her tweets detailing her harrowing experience, in sequence: