I’m sure you’ve heard it…the Beatles singing “Back in the USSR”.
That’s the tune I had playing through my head on a recent visit back to the FRO’s office here in Pune.
Except that my lyrics were not nearly as nice.
Let’s not go there shall we? I promise it’s a dark and gritty path full of bad words.
But I will tell you the new news from Pune FRO.
If you’ll remember from a year ago, I printed off the forms I found on the MHA and Pune FRO and filled them out ahead of time to bring with me when I applied for a Visa Extension at the FRO office.
Once we got there, we learned that the forms that I had so diligently filled out (after my poor husband had to sneak printing them off at his old crap company) were, in all actuality, the WRONG forms.
Thankfully, the FRO then provided me with the correct forms to fill out and the list of new documents that they required in order to provide me with an extension.
Now, here we are 1 year from then and I still have not received the PIO card that I applied for back in April. In case you weren’t aware of it…it’s now September. That’s five months. My friend in the US got her PIO in two weeks. That’s two weeks. I was home, in the US, for three weeks. Why didn’t I think of applying then????
Yeah. Jokes on me. Very Funny Dr. Jones. 😛
Considering what happened last year, what with the documents I had printed off for myself being the wrong ones and all, Bear and I felt that we should just gather all our pertinent documentation and go to the FRO office. We were sure that they would once again provide the proper forms for us to fill out.
Oh how wrong we were. Cut backs means no forms…pab (print and bring)
First, I would like to say that it takes us about 30 minutes to get there by motorcycle. That day we had other errands to run, so we hired a taxi figuring that it would mean less stress for us by not having to actually drive in Pune traffic and around Pune potholes.
Again, wrong. (The driver didn’t know where the heck he was going and was more interested in not following the rules of driving than the actual driving part.)
Second, we had to stop on the way there to get another Indemnity Bond (needed for the extension) and to have a few items notarized. There was only room under the tarp for the typist and the Notary and Bear, so I hung out in an open area space figuring that this would be the best and least crowded spot to wait.
Wrong, wrong and wrong. (It rained. Hard.)
So we FINALLY made it to the FRO’s office only to learn that due to budget cuts, they no longer provide the forms for you to fill out, nor are the forms from last year valid just in case you had an extra copy or two. Nope, there are all NEW forms to fill out this year and they don’t even have a pay options for the damn forms. If you want those forms, you need to go down two blocks to the nearest Internet Café and get them printed off.
ALSO new to the fun parade was that the FRO no longer scheduled Police checks. Now they wanted YOU to go to YOUR local police chowky and get the Police Check done yourself.
Also, we found out that we HAD to have three months worth of our bank account statements and not one. And seeing as that day was a Bank Holiday for EID (hence the reason why the hubby had the day off), the banks were closed. This meant no print off of statements.
Which all equaled up to us having to return to the FRO on a different day.
BUT by the waaay…..it better be in five days before my window expires for applying for an extension (i.e.: You have to apply 15 days before it expired).
So we left.
No, let me rephrase that, two very angry and disgruntled people stormed out of the FRO in Pune vowing to never return again … at least not until we have all the documents and forms.
And then we went straight to the wrong Police chowky. I mean, come on…we don’t know which one we belong to! So we went to the KP Police. They directed us to the YW Police. We got there, happened to have MORE copies of the same shit that the FRO wanted and gave that to the YW Police and then got hit up for a bribe. No pressure or anything…but if you want that tomorrow ….well then….::cough cough::
Bear didn’t pay and pressured the cop that we needed to have that within two days (as printed by them this was how long it would take). He gave us a phone number to call to check and see if it were ready. We left.
Bear called the number the next day and were told that it would be ready that evening. We went that evening only to find that it was all a big lie and that no one had even looked at the security checks in two days because of EID.
I nearly cried. I was currently fasting for our own religious holiday, I was recovering from a cold and was physically exhausted from the previous day at the FRO…and now they were telling us it would be five days???
Bear got pushy and said that in five days I wouldn’t be able to apply for our extension and that no site ANYWHERE had given warning about resident needs to do this on their own and that we had come in as soon as we found out because there was a PRINTED BY POLICE two day waiting time and WTF?
I put my head down on the Officer’s desk. He got scared when I refused chai. Bear talked to him some more till he finally made a phone call and thirty minutes later we had my security check. This time we paid the guy a “thank you” of 100 rupees AFTER he got the document and BEFORE he could ask for it (if he even planned on doing so).
Five days later saw us back at the FRO’s office again. We went early in the morning on what is normally a holiday but wasn’t for the FRO. This time with all the proper documents and forms and copies, we were shown to the very short line to have them scanned in.
While standing there, an idea struck me.
There was no one in the office practically….yet all the little worker bee’s WERE there. Why not ask one of them what the heck was going on with my PIO?
Then I got a better idea. Make the husband do it.
BEFORE you go thinking I’m evil or naughty or anything….you should know that I had the most pure and logical intentions. Those being:
1) Those people make me nuts.
2) I can’t speak Marathi.
3) I was already in line for scanning my documents.
4) Those people make me nuts.
So, while I waited in line, the Hubster went in to talk to some guy who had an actual office and door…once he got within two feet of entering said door, five people all came rushing up saying “How can I help you sir?” and “Is there a problem sir?” and “Let me help you sir!”
In ten minutes, I was still waiting for my documents to get scanned because the couple ahead of me had like 5 million copies a piece and didn’t even speak English so kept digging through and giving the wrong documents to the scanner guy. ::sigh:: I could see Bear talking to an Officer and when he caught my eye, he smiled and gave me the thumbs up.
I was finally moved to another scanner station and was in that process when Bear walked past with a Detective and said that he would be back in 15 minutes and that I should wait in the FRO office for him.
I finished up the scanning, got sent to another line to have my documents verified (call me crazy but shouldn’t that have come first???) and then back to someone else for an office stamp and THEN to the desk that processed the extensions.
The lady took my folder that I had put together (supplied by me again), stamped it and told me that was all and that I would be hearing from someone in two weeks.
Okie dokie…I started to head to the front of the office when Bear showed up and asked me to come with him.
Wondering what happened? So was I!
Apparently the people who had waylaid him outside their director’s office had directed him to the Officer in charge of processing the PIO applications sent from Delhi. Mine had been sitting in the office of the Pune FRO since end of June. You know…back when NOBODY FREAKING CALLED US.
Anyway, she got disgruntled and told Bear that this was horrendous and that someone should have contacted us within two weeks and my gosh my golly she called the Investigating Officer in charge of PIO’s to meet with Bear and start my process Interview. So, Bear had gone with the Investigator and started the process for us.
Four hours, another trip to get some copies made, three interviews, a cup of Chai with the Head Inspector of the FRO and one marathon Marathi translation to English so I could write a statement out later and my PIO check was done with the assurances from the Investigating Officer that he would send my paperwork to Delhi the next day and that I should have my PIO in the next month.
And this time we didn’t even have to pay a bribe.
So now we wait.
PS: Still nothing on the extension…it will probably come in after the PIO does. 😉
Just an FYI, here is links to sites you will need!
© Gori Rajkumari 2011