Archive for June, 2009

Adventures of Clueless – The case of the missing birth certificate

You know, I appreciate India more than I ever did. It is a forgiving country. Don’t have ID card? No problem – there is a work around. Don’t have birth certificate? No worries – just ask a bunch of people to swear that you were indeed born to your parents on the day you were born. But then, I am here, residing in the US, where if you don’t have the right paper work, the officials just would not know what to do and start running around like headless chicken. Immigration in particular seems to be the headless rooster of this commotion.

Now, before you think I don’t have a birth certificate, I do. Which was indeed registered around the time of my birth – a rarity in India if you ask. Ofcourse there is a minor mistake, you know, like my entire name being registered completely different from my actual legal name – but hey! its a birth certificate all right and I was able to convince the head rooster without much drama.

That ofcourse leaves poor K, whose family holds the world championship title for orderly documentation of every single event in their life, all neatly filed away in their respective folders which are catalogued for prompt access. So, when the rooster asked for the birth certificate, all K had to do was pick up the phone and call his dad – and the birth certificate arrived promptly as crisp as the day it had been issued. Except. The immigration got back to us and told us what we had was a birth RECORD and not a birth CERTIFICATE and they wanted a birth CERTIFICATE at all costs. Now, K was born in a part of India where no one from the family lives anymore. Infact the only reason he was born there was because the FIL was posted there for a short duration. It was our turn to run around like headless chicken.

So off we went to appease the Google god and see what he would spit up on our small town municipality website search. To our suprise not only was there a website, but you could actually search for your birth record and order a copy online! But like all good stories go, the end cannot be so easy, and our online search resulted in an ODBC error.

Here is another reason why I like India so much (its sarcasm, just incase I sound like a snob). You can get anything done at lightning speed if you have the money or influence. After calling up the municipality several times and hearing the person on the other end just reply to everything we ask with “Speedily! Speedily!” we decided to throw money at the problem. And just for safety, we threw in a good measure of influence too. And since we used both money and influence, we ended up having 2 birth certificates for K. Thankfully atleast one of them was devoid of any spelling mistakes.

If you think the story ends here and the mystery was solved, here is the twist. The mystery had only just begun! Because the final part of mailing the certificate from small town to big town where FIL resides was still left undone. Adresses were given and reverified. The package was couriered and even a tracking number was given to us. But when we decided to track it online, it had just disappeared! We called the big town office – they said there was no record of the package. We called the small town office and they were sure they had never recieved the package. We called our contact and he faxed us a copy of the receipt that he got when he handed over the package! We called and called. We spoke in English, we spoke in native language but there was no clue about where the package had disappeared. Until finally the courier service lady gave us the phone number of THE ONE – the PACKAGE WHISPERER. She gave it to us in hushed tones and told us all will be well.

And then, we made the call. A person picked up on the other end and listened to us. He asked us for our tracking number and we gave it to him. Two minutes of silence. And then he spoke. The tracking number had been changed mid-transit! Why? No one knows. I wanted to ask why the courier service gave a tracking number in the first place if they went ahead and changed it at their whim. But K held me back because you know –  you don’t ask such frivolous questions to THE ONE. So now we had a new tracking number which showed us where the package was and we could obsessively refresh the tracking web page it till it said “delivered”.

Finally, it was delivered. In one piece. To the right address. An overnight delivery that took four days to complete its mysterious journey. And we now have the birth certificate to offer to the immigration rooster. Not a birth record but a true blue birth certificate. What is different you ask? I don’t know. Both contain the same information. But then, you just stop asking such questions and simply produce whatever documents in whatever form they want it in.

The end. Hopefully.

June 30, 2009 at 9:52 pm 7 comments

Blast from the past

I think memory always becomes hazy and soft tinted as we look back at our school days. I think our memory becomes what we want to remember about ourselves rather than, you know, those unflattering truths.  So here I sat, with lofty ideas about my school life, when one of my classmates sent out pictures from our 10th grade send off party.

To say it was a jolt would be an understatement.

I mean, what was I thinking? I was wearing a 3/4th “puffed” sleeved salwar suit that could fit two more of me inside it.  The neck of the dress was almost non-existent, almost like the tailor had decided before-hand that he wanted to stitch a polo neck anyways, to heck with whatever neck design I gave him. My eyebrows were as bushy as well fed caterpillars taking a nap and my hair was pulled back really tight in a french plait. I WAS everything I would make fun of today.

My first reaction was to call my mom and ask her how she could have let me go out of the house dressed like that. My mom, ofcourse claimed that she never remembered that salwar, and that I should have probably worn one of my aunts’ salwars and trotted off, like I usually did back then (Ahem….another memory that was conviniently wiped out). In all fairness, my mom has ensured that she always got the best stuff stitched for me and drilled it into my head that I should wear things that FIT me, but somehow this salwar did not look like it belonged to any of my aunts. I remember buying the fabric – for myself. Anyways, I moved on to more important accusations like ahy she combed my hair in such an unflattering fashion and why she did not let me get my eyebrows done like every other girl in my class.  Ok ok…I DO remember that my first tryst with threading was not exactly a success and I swore off it for many years, so that could not have been my mother’s fault, but you know, it is nice to have someone to blame.

K ofcourse was laughing his a** off till he could laugh no more after seeing those photos, which was not very helpful either. I am just waiting for one of his awkward photos to pop up so that I can return the favor. And I don’t have to work too hard at it – all I have to do is ask my FIL to show me some old pictures of K and he will promptly oblige and pull out giant albums filled with photos and exclaim how his son wsa so handsome he could have become a film star. People in glass houses K….remember that.

So the one thing I have learnt from all this is that, the next time I spot an awkwardly dressed teen, I will send out a silent prayer to help get them out of their disillusions before they go to college. And no, I won’t snigger at them.

June 16, 2009 at 1:15 am 9 comments


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