Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New passport

With my replacement passport in hand, I would like to tell you about getting it. We went to Chennai several weeks ago to apply for the passport at the American Embassy there. Although things were very chaotic at the window there, and we had to go through pretty exhaustive screening, I was able to hand them everything I had brought. She seemed relieved that I was so organized, everything was there; we just needed to make out a self-addressed envelope to have it dellivered to my landlord's address here in Pondicherry. The passport arrived at our Pondicherry landlord's house while we were in Coonoor. The mailman wouldn't leave it with them and had a hard time understanding why I wasn't there. The first day the post office was open upon our return from Coonoor (Monday, September 22nd), Krishna and I went to the post office to get my passport. After talking to about 7 different people, I finally ended up with a supervisor. Because I didn't actually live at my landlord's address and because the only ID they would accept was my passport (my California drivers license was no good), I was not able to get my passport. They required a letter telling them that I had moved from my landlord's address to our actual address, which I did. When the supervisor eventually returned to his desk, I handed him the required letter, and he took it over to the another worker's desk. Krishna and I spoke with her briefly before we left. I dedicated the whole day Tuesday to waiting for my passport. By 4pm, we were wondering if mail delivery was still happening. We asked neighbors and also checked to see how clearly marked our address was. The neighbors informed us they usually bring mail around 11am, and we realized our building was not marked clearly. In fact, our building number was on the building next door. That neighbor told us our address was actually 95A Vellala, not 95.
So, I went to the post office, armed with my husband (a Tamil speaker and a man) and photocopies of my stolen passport and stolen PIO card for ID.) It turned out, taking Gopal with me made all the difference. After about an hour and a half, I had my passport. We were within reaching distance of it for a long time, but we had to jump through many more hoops and learn that my letter was never passed along to the postman and no one spoke English well enough to understand what I had written, so the poor mailman had delivered it again to our landlord's house. Sigh. (In the meantime, at the post office, a package my daughter had sent me to my landlord's address was handed to me, while my passport laid on the table in front of me for another hour.)

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