There is an old saying – “Nobody dies virgin, life fucks all.” But this may not hold in a few cases and I know one such case. Come 11/03/2011 and my current passport will have to be cremated as it expires on that day. Incidentally, it happens to be my only photo ID card to have stayed with me for almost a decade. I got my PAN card not before 2002 and have lost my driving licences thrice during last 14 years. I still do not have a voter ID card. Only time I had a realistic chance of getting a voter ID card, I was below 18 (wasn’t very long ago). Hence as a matter of abiding the law, I refused to get one.
Like all these years, a major political party has been asking its prince again and again “When will you grow up and oblige this country by ruling it?” whereas the price has refused to do so, my passport has been asking me “Master, when I will lose my virginity?” Although I am still young (???), my passport has grown up from a being an infant to an old man looking at his bucket list on his deathbed. And till date, the basic objective of getting a passport of going abroad has remained unfulfilled.
For some reasons or the other, my only foreign trip has been to Nepal which didn’t require a passport. This remains a rarity as having worked in IT industry for almost 4 years; if your passport is still unstamped then you must have worked in housekeeping/security department all your life.
On the other hand, people desperately try to go out of India to work in foreign location. Foreign location means US, rest all are believed to be mere refugee camps. In fact there are a few communities in India where a guy just cannot get married unless he has spent at least 24 hours in US. I have seen a guy begging to his boss to send him to US, if nothing at least for a week, so that he can get married. On the other hand whenever my employer has asked me to handover my passport for visa processing, I have replied to him with my resignation letter. I have always worked under the assumption that if I stick to one place for more than two years, people will recognize the flaw in their recruitment system and will try to rectify it immediately. Fortunately my assumption has never been tested but if you ask any of my previous employers, I am sure they will validate my assumption.
There have been a few things common among all my friends who have been to US. But, apart from typical complaints about India’s infrastructure compared to US, most common trait is the way they respond to every location with respect to east coast or west coast. Its like if you ask A if he has met B in US, his answer would be something like
“No Yaar. He is on east coast whereas I am on west”.
“So you chat over the phone?”
“No, his time is 4 hours ahead of mine. US is a big country and he is on east coast”
This makes no sense to someone like me as only place I know in US is New York. So I ask them to tell me their tale with respect to New York.
“Haha. You must learn directions in US. B is on east coast”
Sometimes I wonder if I were to ask them “Where is the toilet in you house?” I might get an answer “It’s on west coast whereas I am on east coast. So I need to rush”. I got so irritated by this east coast – west coast explanation that I made sure if I was talking to a friend in US, I would not ask anyone’s address.
However, ever since I have shifted to Mumbai I have got a chance to hit back. Mumbai not only has its own east and west, it has them thrice. Each of western, harbour and central line has their own east and west. If I get a call from a friend in US now, I make sure that I explain my address in full details – in Kandivali EAST which is on western line.
Second most irritating part is to see their photographs posted on community websites. The backgrounds are so picturesque that even a 1.5 mega pixel mobile camera may sound like Nikon D90. It makes me feel as if I have been hit by Onida’s devil. Compared to that, my photographs look like a pirated print of a movie which has been recorded in a cinema hall using a handicam. No reason the Chopras and the Johars prefer Dallas over Dombivalli while deciding their locations. But then, photoshop is available to everyone or that I would like to believe.
With my passport sure to be expiring without even a blot of ink in it, I have been advised by my friends to cremate it prematurely that too as per Hindu mythology. After all, it can do more harm than good. I am not going to use it any how. But if I happen to lose it, I will have to get my complaint registered with police which may result in a monetary loss. But I am no murderer so I rejected the idea. However, I may not get it renewed. I would better get my voter ID card made instead of passport. After all, that is more likely to serve a better purpose.