I quietly slipped into Bangalore for a couple of days… where the topic of “foreigner registration” in India came up.
When you move, updating your address is a necessary bother anywhere in the world. But in India, it can be an incredibly painful process. I changed apartments nearly two years ago and it took only three months to get my bank to update it, another two months for my mobile service provider… however in a baffling twist, I became “Mr Hickling” in the process?!
To “fix” that, one needs a form, an indemnification letter requesting changing gender on 1 Rupee legal stamp paper, passport sized photos, original proof of gender with certified copies and apply in person to present the evidence. I guess the fact that I’m unmistakably female, haven’t undergone a sex change operation and someone somewhere incorrectly selected “Mr” instead of “Ms” in their system is entirely irrelevant?!
Is it any wonder that I’ve avoided going to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO)?
But Friday, prompted by the horror stories of my Bangalore friends, incredulous that I could be so blasé about not updating my address after so long… decided to stop delaying, prepare for the worst and just do it. Even if it was made to sound akin to going to the dentist for a root canal. Necessary but really quite yucky!
I’m no neophyte and, as I couldn’t find the requirements on-line, prepared for everything! Early morning, I set off on my valiant quest with:
- Copies of my passport, PIO card, FRRO book in triplicate, obviously with the originals too!
- Original address proof of all kinds – bank statement, mobile phone bill (hoping the “Mr” wouldn’t be noticed) with copies too
- And, just in case, even added to my stack of papers notorized copy of my 33 month lease
- Multiple passport sized photos to meet any kind of requirement (because you ALWAYS need photos for everything!)
So what happened?
- Entry – The ever-present visitor pass system – entirely expected so no big deal.
- 3rd Floor Reception – I was politely sent to a queue… didn’t take long for my turn when they exclaimed “Oh but you didn’t need to queue here… please go right ahead to the PIO/OCI office.” (Handy – will remember for future reference!)
- PIO/OCI office – They weren’t at all concerned that I’d neglected to update my address for such a long time. Apparently address is no longer required?! However as I’d made the trip and have the old permit, address proof, copies with me… had me hand-write a simple letter, photocopy it for Rs 1, update the ‘new’ address in my ‘old’ FRRO Registration booklet and sent me on my way!
What did I actually need? Basically nothing! Compared to the hassles of trying to correct my mobile phone operators gender-bender error, it was entirely painless!
No obnoxious red tape, long queues, no fees, no fuss with days, weeks, months of waiting that my friends in Bangalore had regaled. Just a friendly accommodation of providing something rather than nothing for my troubles.
I should probably inform the Canadian Consulate too… wonder if there will be more ‘red tape’ than for India??
- The government owes me money!
- Kicking corruption: Screening of “Jai Bhim Comrade”
- Mute – Screaming Silently
- I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions! – Completely updating addresses is one task for early 2014