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Passport Issued! February 16, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Pune, Society.
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Phew. Relief.

That is all that I feel right now. After a year and a half of running around, enquiring with the PROs, my wife has finally received her passport.

The tall claims of the government that a passport is delivered with 45 days is pure and unadulterated bull shit. That much i am damn sure of. I had blogged about that pain earlier here.

Our passport saga goes something like this…

We had applied for her passport in Sep 07, and till Dec 07 we heard nothing. So we went to the passport office at Senapati Bapat Road, Pune every other day to find out what the status was. And every time we were told that the passport was stuck in Mumbai. For what reason, no one was able to tell us. Prior to coming to Pune, we were based in Mumbai, and as honest citizens we had mentioned that in the application form the first time around since we had not completed 1 year in Pune at that time. So i guess, the Mumbai cops were pissed that we had not ‘met’ them. Probably. Probably not.

So finally after months of wait and agonizing aniticipation, we met the PRO, who as luck would have it, seemed totally insensitive to our problems. He was very rude, to the point of being ill mannered. Needless to say, i lost my cool, and gave it back to him. After all he was not doing me a favor, he was just not doing his job properly. We closed the file, and decided to re-apply.

We submitted a new form, with fees (again a 1000 bucks) in Aug 08, and said our prayers. This time though, we had completed a year in Pune, and did not have to mention Mumbai any where on the damn form. The police verification happened after 45 days, which by the way was too damn later than promised. Anyways, once that was done, we again went on the hope train. We did not hear anything from them for the next 4 months. The passport website gave the status of our application as ‘under processing’ so that keptour hopes high. At one fine day the status changed to ‘Due to unavoidable circumstances, the despatch of the passport has been delayed, and will be delivered in a weeks time’. No dates, nothing. Just a week. This status message was there for over 2 months. our ‘week’ just did not arrive.

So finally eternally frustrated we went to meet the PRO in Jan 09. This time there was another woman, but equally if not less, rude. She made us feel as if they were doing us a great favor by issuing a passport to us. We asked her where what the problem was, and she told us that apparently after receiving the police report, nothing was done. NOTHING?? Why the heck not?? Just. We got the file out, and yes, the application had been received in Nov 08 or something, but not moved. Why the FUCK not?

So anyways, after much arguments, to and fro, she told us that the passport would come. When? In the next 15 days. 2 days later, the status on the website changed to ‘Passport has been granted and is expected to be despatched by 24-02-2009. Subject to all documents being in order’. And we were on the hope train again. Surprisingly, the passport came two days later, on Valentine’s day, when we were least expecting it. We are still too surprised to have finally received the passport after so long. But we are glad.

Oh, and by the way, the status on the website still says ‘Passport has been granted and is expected to be despatched by 24-02-2009. Subject to all documents being in order’.


P(r)ay and Park February 11, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in India, Maharashtra, Pune, Society.
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How many times have you ventured out on an evening with the family, taking off time from a bloody tight schedule, just to unwind yourself, and ended having a god awful time simply because of a parking problem? Either you did not find a good parking spot, or you did not find a spot at all. Or even worse you decided to use the pay and park facility, only to find your car scratched or dented on your return?

Although not new, the pay and park facilities have become more of a menace than anything else. The other day, my wife and I decided to catch a late night show at E-Square, one of Pune premier multiplexes. Due to lack of choice, I had to park within the premises, in the ‘parking lot’. I had to shell out 40 bucks at the entry, before I even parked. I was told that there was ample space in the parking lot. When I did reach the parking space, I could see an endless queue of cars waiting to be parked, by a ‘valet’. There were at least 10 cars that had to be parked before mine. And to top it off, there wasn’t a single parking slot available in the so called parking lot. I decided against giving my car for ‘valet’ parking, as it is fundamentally against my principles to simple hand out my keys to any valet. He could be Michael Schumacher for all I care. Luckily I found a parking spot waiting to be taken on the exit ramp.

What infuriates me about such pay and park services, is that :

1. Parking at owner’s risk: – Then what the fuck am I paying you for?

2. Management will not be responsible for any losses – Like hell they won’t be! The parking attendants are your employees, and my car is not for your employees to fuck around or dent. If there is a dent, or so much so as a single scratch, I will take personal care to fuck your happiness.

 3. Please carry all your Valuables; – Does that include the engine as well? Fucking moron, isn’t it your responsibility to see that my car is secure and safe till my return? What the fuck are you charging me for?

4. Pay in advance – What for you dip shit? What if my car has a scratch when I return? Or worse, what if it is not there in the when I return? Who do I go running after then?

The truth is, that most of these ‘pay and park’ scams are run my local corporate and / or goons. Since the returns are huge, without any substantial investments, barring the usual under the table hand greasing, a lot of ‘people’ want contracts for pay and park schemes. Someone once told me, that multiplexes are not supposed to charge for parking, since it is a civic mandate, I wonder which one, that all commercial establishments must provide for parking space. Since the land on which the establishment is constructed is either bought or leased, money cannot be made on parking charges. I still need to verify the facts though.

Not that I mind paying for parking, after all it is supposed to keep my car safe. What I have a problem with is the ‘fuck-you-and-fuck-your-car-but-pay-me for parking’ attitude. Aren’t there any rules and regulations against such activities? I am too pissed right now to think.

My First Car. October 12, 2008

Posted by Chatore Diaries in My Car.
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Ahh…Finally I have bought my first car. I took the delivery on Dussera day. The emotions are mixed, still, and I can’t believe that I have done it. Mind you, I do consider it as an achievement.

After months of endless research and sparring sessions with experts, budget reviews, and long term ownership concerns, we finally settled on the Getz Prime 1.3GLS. We test drove a lot of cars before finally settling on the Getz. The other options I considered were Swift Vxi(ABS), Palio Sport, i10 and Chevy U-Va.

What I liked about the Getz the most was the space it offered for the price. It is a comfy ride for 5 adults. The pick-up is nothing great, especially at the second gear, but once it reaches the 4 gear, it transforms into a beast. I have to control my emotions a lot before I let it get the better of me, and zoom off!

The Getz has great maneuverability, especially for city driving. Most users concur on the mileage being a little lower than other cars in the segment, but what the heck, I can live with that. The Prime version has a good looking interior as well, with a wooden looking enter console. The rev meter and the speedometer are beautiful.

I approached Sanjay Hyundai here in Pune, and I must say, I came back really well informed about the car. The sales staff was extremely courteous, and knowledgeable. A rare combination. At least here in Pune. The other dealer I went to was Kothari. Since it was a Sunday, I thought that I would get plenty of time to spend there, and try and get the best deal. Surprisingly, Kothari closes shop at 1:30 in the afternoon on Sundays. A logic I failed to understand. Sunday is one day when people would have the time to come for evaluating such an expensive item. But then again, this is Pune. I was not offered a test ride, the sales guy looked like he just came from selling some credit cards, and was in a hurry to shut shop. This was one major reason I chose to go back to Sanjay, with somewhat of a counter offer from Kothari.

My point of contact at Sanjay, a certain Mr. Kaushik, was prompt in his job. I called him a hundred times before I went, and I received the same courtesy each time. The fact that sales in Motown are at an all time low, and it was month end as well as his quarter ending must have helped somewhat. J Mr. Kaushik hails from Bengal, and if they had more people like Kaushik, in place of Ms. Banerjee, I think Bengal would have been miles ahead of other states in terms of overall development.

I got the car financed from HDFC, and was lucky to have been assigned a very diligent and sincere sales guy. His knowledge and responsive is something that one would expect in all sales guys. But sigh, it is not so. The loan processing was fast, and the disbursement quick.

Needless to say, I being a Gujju, negotiated to the extent that the sales guys actually said,” Sir, any more discount/freebies, and my job will go”. So after actually establishing what he said as the truth, I finally settled on a fair enough discount.

Right now, I am in the middle of accessorizing the car. Like I said before, the feeling hasn’t sunk in yet. I guess the fuel bills will catalyze the realization.