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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XXI No. 6, July 1-15, 2011
Quest for that precious Blue

Madras Mom had the unique opportunity of visiting the city’s Passport Office. While she and her Travelling Husband both have the precious dark blue document, their Lil Madras Girl desperately needs one. How else can they travel abroad, together, click many photographs, choose only the ones they look good in, upload online albums and make other Facebook users jealous? What other way is there to convince Lil Madras Girl that her aunts and uncles do exist and there is no separate world called Skype?

Therefore, Madras Mom trooped into the Passport Office armed with a Mills and Boon for light entertainment. She felt generally positive; after all, it was the passport that had prompted the couple to register their marriage after four years, a prerequisite in the application form.

Since Travelling Husband was true to his name, his precious blue document was rather hard to lay hands on. An elusive document coupled with her parents’ penchant for procrastination certainly spelled travel gloom for Lil Madras Girl whose parents found themselves confused and impatient in the Passport Office.

The Passport Office was nothing like the exotic M&B locales that Madras Mom liked to read about. Teeming with a million other citizens, the Passport Office represented a meeting ground for mostly disgruntled looking people and offered space for ominous-looking old Godrej almirahs, dusty fans powered by the city’s economical voltage, and a whole forest of paperwork flying around.

Queues ran in curious shapes across the Office – straight, circular, zigzag, along staircases and pathways. Even people sitting in chairs in the middle of the hallways insisted that they belonged to one of the queues! Sadly, for the applicant couple, it was not enough that they had registered their marriage; they had to add each other’s name to their respective passports as well. Thus began their quest on how to find the elusive Miscellaneous Services queue and acclimatise themselves in it.

While waiting for Travelling Husband (now in town) busy parking the car, Madras Mom took some time to soak in the atmosphere and observe some of our city’s more interesting citizens. She noticed hassled looking grandmothers and mothers with newborn infants and wondered if they had walked straight from the delivery room to the crowded Passport Office in the sweltering summer heat. If there was a grandmother in tow, why bring a susceptible infant to a crowded Government Office instead of leaving them at home? An attempt to improve the child’s immunity?

Madras Mom’s smug thoughts on motherhood were interrupted by Teenage Girl in Hot Pink who was accompanied by her grandfather and a matching Hot Pink phone. She kept calling her ‘contacts’ within the Office and complaining to the old man about waiting when he turned to Madras Mom and said wryly, “She does not want to wait for anything. We must have patience.”

Madras Mom had a brief conversation with Philosophical Grandpa about the operations in the Passport Office. She was pleased to use fancy phrases like ‘lack of system’ and bored him with her ideas for better infra- structure and easier communication within the Office. In return, he gave her some interesting tidbits on how people used ‘other people’ to stand in line for them for rates ranging from Rs. 150 to Rs. 200!

Her new friend soon walked away with Teenage Girl in Hot Pink who left behind a whiff of what Madras Mom guessed was Thiery Muegler’s Angel, a pleasant perfume in the otherwise suspect-smelling atmosphere.

Passport customers looked wary when Madras Mom approached them, rather understandable in India where cutting queues is a skill passed on from one generation to another. While Madras Mom was shooed away by angry Passport customers who, when asked politely where the ‘Miscellaneous Services’ line was, informed her snappily that they were standing from 8 a.m. and she should just go ‘back’. Travelling Husband received cold stares from hassled looking Officers who suspiciously seemed programmed with the automatic response of ‘aprom’ (later). He realised that it was not a good time to make enquiries on how to upgrade to a Jumbo Passport.

Faithfully obeying her Passport fellowmen, Madras Mom found herself going ‘back’ ‘back’ and ‘back’, only to find herself out of the entrance. She rubbed eyes in disbelief when she realised she had walked ‘back’ to the car park.

Madras Mom and Travelling Husband thus made a hasty retreat and decided to deal with Lil Madras Girl’s passport ‘aprom’.

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In this issue

Education standards fall in levelling
What will be the fate of the Cooum?
Getting ready for ­Madras (Day) Week ...
Quest for that precious Blue
The artist who designed the State emblem
Early modern Tamil novels
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your diary


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