Language Barriers

I have lived most of my life in Tamil Nadu and I have never had any issues with language. I mean, I can talk Tamil as well as the next guy, read a bit of it and write enough to get me in trouble. I have never had issues, since wherever I went, I could easily manage with English, Hindi or most often Tamil. So, all my life I have never known what it is like to be spoken to by someone in a language you don’t know.

Suddenly that’s changed. I find myself in the middle of (nowhere actually) a place where I know not what they are saying. Sure, I can manage with Hindi, but there are people who don’t understand it. And I’ll tell you what, I don’t like the feeling one bit. Not knowing what someone is saying to you is pissing off.

Why am I writing this all of a sudden. Well, this morning a respectable looking lady asked me directions in Kannada. Well, all I understood was that she was asking for directions. I knew the place she was inquiring about, but then didn’t know how to make conversation. So instead of telling her “Go to that bus stop. Take bus 45 and you’ll be there”, I shrug. Now, I am a decent chap, and I feel bad about this. Now, if she has left it at that, I would have been relieved. But then she asks again quoting another landmark, she hopes I will know. I know this too, but then I don’t know how to tell her in Kannada. Also, worth mentioning is the fact that I was rushing to office. I can’t bring myself to shrug a second time. So, I point to the bus stop and mutter something, no one can understand, and flee from the place. Poor lady, must have been wondering what she said, that made me rush. It was embarrassing.

The second incident happened barely 13 hours later (the number of hours I work these days). I am in a bus back home, when some hot shot two wheeler decides to do some stunt in front of the bus. Now, the conductor getts annoyed and starts saying something. I turn back to see him , and eye meets eye. Suddenly, he takes I am interested in what he is saying and goes on and on with his discourse of which I don’t have the slightest of clue. I dare not tell him “Kannada Gotthilla” (I don’t know Kannada (The only phrase I know in Kannada) ), for the fear that he will punch me in my face. All I managed was to smile at him, turn my gaze away and never look in his direction again. And on the walk back home, I realised, how difficult it must be for people who don’t know the local languge in any place.

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From Mangalore to Chennai

I left Mangalore on Friday night at exactly 21:30 hours to Chennai. Couple of things about the travel by train.
Chennai-Mangalore
Chennai-Mangalore

 1) A straight line between two points is ALWAYS shorter than a curved line connecting two points. (Unless you are talking about Indian Railways of course.) [“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”]

The train goes all the way to Coimbatore and then decides, shit, I was supposed to go the other way round. So, then it takes almost a U turn and then comes back to Chennai. Sad part: There is no direct train from Mangalore to Chennai through Bangalore. Funny thing is, the train reaches Bombay faster than Chennai.

2) There is a side middle berth in train these days. Side middle!!  I don’t know if people have observed this, but my train had two sets of numberings for the coaches. This resulted in everyone thinking they were right about the numbers, including me ofcourse.

Side Middle Berth
Side Middle Berth

 

Stranger on train: “This is the new numbering system here” pointing to the numberings written on white paint with a white-board marker. (My idea of a prank if you ask me.) “This should be the right number”

Me: Wanting to show off that I can do math,

 “See, we are in the 8th row and each row has 9 seats. 8 * 9 is 72. So this should be the right number, not that.”

Stranger goes all the way to the end of the coach, counts numbers, comes back and says, “Yeah. There are 72 seats alright.”

I give him a triumphant smile.

A few hours later: The TTR comes and tells me “Your seat is there” ???!!! Whaddaya know. My face went the size of an orange for an instant. Now it was the Strangers turn to smile at me. Ah, damn, wish I could wipe that smile off his face.

 3) There are these cool new LED displays on the trains which show you where exactly you are, which station is next and as it approaches the next station, how far it is. Credit to Laloo for this. (Or whoever thought of it and implemented it.) I don’t know if it used GPS for sure (must be though), but it’s cool all the same.

I reached Chennai on Saturday at around 15:30 after 18 hours of travel.

One Day (Down the Drain) – @ Passport Office

Ok, nothing to do with the Chennai rains of which I am sure you must have got innumerable mails (/forwards) with sad sad images. Ok, sorry. Let’s forget that. Not a ver ygood memory.

This has to do with my passport application. The story goes thus….

I had applied for a passport in June 2008 at Chennai. (The post can be found here.) That was followed by me joining Infosys again in June. What followed was Police coming home (relax) for passport cerification. And obviously I wasn’t available in Chennai. (I haven’t perfected being in two places yet. Still training.) So, now my online status says “Police Verification Failed” I tried mailing the people at the passport office to find out what I should do, but then surprise surprise, they don’t reply.

Then I went to their website to try and see what I should do. I thought the FAQ’s section or something will have some information on it. But then this is India. No information whatsoever. I went through the site more religiously than I have gone through my Engineering books. (return null;) That’s all I got. Nothing.

So I finally decided to take control of things, applied for leave (after having to literally fight with my PM. You know how it works.) and came to Chennai so that I could go there (come here ?) and find out. I asked a few people and they told me that I had to go to the passport office and give in a letter asking for re-initiation of Verification process.

I went to the passport office today. Had to wait in the queue for about an hour and a half to two hours. At the end of which I am told I can no longer apply for verification. What the ? Thsi guys tells me I have to produce a proof of my current address in Mangalore (Yea another sad story.) and proof of employment. After I do that, it will be transferred to Bangalore and God knows what will happen after that. Problem is I don’t have either. So I am pretty much stuck. Dead.

If someone can enlighten me as to what I can do, do let me know. I would like to get out of this situation ASAP.

Feels Good to be Back

Came to Chennai today after quite some time. (Last time I was in Chennai was somewhere around when I wrote the last post.) Feels good to be back. Feels good just to sit in front of the PC and write a post on the blog. Feels like freedom…

FYI: I haven’t had access to my mails and blog for the past 6 months. Just on and off.

In Chennai for the Weekend/Diwali

Back in Chennai after more than a month. Thank God we weren’t greeted by rains. Rains in Mysore are bad enough.

Ah, it’s been ages since I blogged or even logged in for that matter. It’s ironical that inspite of working for a IT company, you are not allowed to access blogs, email and Orkut, listen to music, watch movies, or play games. (The very reason computers were invented for if you ask me.) Company policy, apparently. We cannot use company resources for personal purposes. 😀 (It’s not as ridiculous as not being allowed to use cell phones in stupid colleges though.) Thing is we spend close to 8-10 hours in fron of the PC without doing any of these. We have our Intranet of course.

I have almost forgotten how to write a post. I had a lot of trouble logging in. (you tend to forget the password when you don’t login for about 3 months.) Anyway, now that I am here for a couple of days, there will be a couple of posts and also a job I haven’t had the time to do for quite a number of days now – remove dumbass comments by dumbasses and close comments from certain posts if necessary. Also there is Hari’s post that is pending for sometime now. 🙂

Traffic Boards-02

This is in continuation to my post Indian Traffic Boards

Traffic board

(click on thumbnail to enlarge)

If you think the bags are funny, it’s not about that. Did you notice the unit of speed ? Km/Ph. Well I have heard of Kmph and Km/hr. Km/Ph is Kilometers per per hour. That’s acceleration you jerks 😉

One Day @ The Passport Office

Passport Office

(Click on picture to enlarge)

I went to the Passport Office today. (Shastri Bhavan,Haddows Road, Nungambakkam,Chennai). Guess how much time it took me to go into the office, find my way and all that and come out, receipt in hand ? Twenty Minutes. Really. That’s how much time it took me. I was stupefied. I have my friends Bala, Marc and Hari to thank.

You know the secret to getting things done the way you want and really quickly at that ? Information.

First, the Indian Passport Website is really informative and useful. There is scope for improvement, but then believe me, this is as much as you can expect really. You can find the following there,

Among a few others….

Now, most things here are really detailed. They have given some thought to the questions the applicant might ask himself while filling the form. And tried to answer all those questions and structure the website such that it’s easy to navigate through.

Since my friends helped me out with a few things, that made things really simple for me, I thought I’d make yet another FAQ compilation. But I must warn you, I have not covered any of the questions to which you can find the answers in the website mentioned above. Duplication of content isn’t exactly my cup of tea. (Although, lots of bloggers thrive in it. :D) Read that (set of official FAQ’s) first!!

Disclaimer: The FAQ’s below are not official and are Chennai specific. Further more they are specific to Shastri Bhavan (unless mentioned) and Normal Quota (not Tatkaal, and again, unless mentioned so.)

Never Asked FAQ’s:

(Not specific to Chennai)

1) I have a 5cm x 3.5cm passport size photograph. Do you think it’s ok?

Why would it be ok, when they have clearly mentioned that you need to affix a 3.5cm x 3.5cm passport size photograph ? It’s not ok. If you want to take the chances, you are welcome, but then if they send you back, you have yourselves to blame. I would suggest spending an extra 50 bucks so that there aren’t any hassles.

2) The form says the passport size photograph should have a light background (preferably white). Is that true ?

Yes. Light is compulsory. White is not. I gave my application in with a Grey background and they were ok with it. So no reason why they won’t take yours. But just to be safe, demand for a white background when you get your passport size photograph taken.

3) How do I sign across the photograph ?

Now, this is a question even I did not have an answer to. The form said “Paste your cross signed recent color photograph.” Now whether I was to sign on it and then paste it or whether I was to paste it and then sign it with part of the sign falling outside the photo, I wondered. I did the latter though and I was alright. You need to use a ball pen to sign on the photo (I don’t know if OHP marker would be acceptable.) and it’s quite hard actually.

4) Do I need documentary proof for Place of Birth ?

I did take my Birth Certificate (the one issued by the hospital and not the municipality. The municipality one, is given to the school you first attended and it was probably burnt in the fire in the office :D.), but then they said it was not required. If you have it, it’s best to take it along.

5) I want ECNR, and I have completed my B.E. However, I do not have my degree with me yet. I have my TC, Course Completion Certificate and all of my Mark sheets. Is that enough ?

No, actually. None of these would do. The TC and CC are not accepted. And they don’t have the patience to sit and look at all your 8 semester mark sheets. So, take copies (and original) of your 12th and 10th standard mark sheets. They asked for my 12th mark sheet in my case.

6) In the personal particulars form, under 10 References, can I give my own parents names ? Or someone else who resides in my own house ? Or my parents office address ?

No again. It needs to be someone other than your family who know you and who live nearby. And the address needs to be residential. It is best to have people who have the same postal code as yours listed as your references. And they need to have a phone number too. I doubt if these people will ever be contacted, but it is better to let them know that they might be.

(Questions Specific to my case-Normal Quota, Chennai)

7) How did you apply online ?

Look at the link that reads online registration on top.

8. What documents did you carry with you ?

For ECNR-10th Mark Sheet Original and two self attested copies, 12th Mark Sheet Original and two self attested copies.

For Address Proof-Bank Passbook with Photograph and Address with two self attested copies and Ration Card with two self attested copies. I also had with me my voter ID card and College ID card.

For Proof of Date of Birth-TC of the college last attended. Copy of Birth Certificate. I also had an assortment of other documents like voter ID, college ID and 12th TC,(Attested by Principal) which had proof of Date of Birth. Your passbook should also have the same.

9) Where did you submit the online application ?

There was this queue for Online registration to the left of the general queue. Look at the picture below to get an idea.

Online Queue

(Click on the picture to enlarge)

10) What do they do in the form verification ?

Pretty simple. They check if the application form is in order and you have the originals. As far as possible, carry all the originals you have with photocopies of the same. In case they say one of them is not acceptable, you can always produce the other(s).

Once you have satisfactorily submitted all documents, then you are asked to go upstairs and pay the money. Here again, the tatkaal queue(s) are pretty long, whereas the general quota queue(s) are very short. I had three people standing in front of me, of which I found out two weren’t even in the queue. Just standing there and talking.

I wanted to get a couple of snaps, but then Cell Phone Usage was not allowed inside and so I had to keep my shutter (camera’s) shut.

11) What’s the advantage of filling the form online ?

You don’t have to stand in the general queue and wait all day. However, with online applications, they give you an appointment some 4-5 days after you have submitted the form. You need to get this from printed out and fill a few other details yourself. Once you get your appointment date and time, be there at least 45 minutes early. (I went 15 minutes late, but you might not be that lucky)

The online queue is really short.

12) What additional steps did you take to make sure that you weren’t sent back ? I hear that happens a lot.

Yes, people take things for granted and do not have everything in place as required. Which is why they are asked to come back again. If your Ration Card, Voter ID and Passbook have different addresses (as in you stay in the same house, but the illiterate people who are sent to fill these forms for you and do not let you fill it yourself, screw it up and they now read addresses that are actually the same, but read differently, then you are better off not showing one of these originals.)

For instance, all of my address proofs had weird addresses. Thankfully, my pass book was in order. If you plan to have things hassle free, go to the Election Commission or whichever place they issues your Voter ID and get your address changed. My Pin Code was wrong. Instead of 41 which is Thiruvanmiyur, they had written 04 which is Mylapore. Dumbasses

Thought of a few more. Can’t remember it now.