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.
Entry filed under: Random Banter.