You have to walk uneven footpaths
where workmen have dug up the bricks
and show the housing of your heart
beyond your body and its ribs.
You must steer through old tree shadows
lying in wait like feral beasts
the leaves like spears from ancient wars,
warnings laid down on modern streets.
You must look straight at flinty eyes
and never even once must you flinch,
you must prove, whatever your crimes,
legally they amount to nothing.
You’ll spread out your life in bills and cards
the locations of all your roofs
a lifetime of paper innards
in forms that are government approved.
You must learn to wait, and be dismissed,
you must know how to stand in queues,
carry on as though it counts not a bit
that your probity must be proved.
Passport renewal - totally an eyeroll-worthy process I'd have thought, especially In Kolkata where illegal immigrants are brought in by some shady politicians and given Indian i.d.s including passports to inflate their own vote banks. So it takes time and there's a police verification involved for everyone, no exemptions.
The last time my passport was renewed here, Kolkata was Calcutta and I was not present at home when the authorities came in to verify - I was at work and my blood family and in-laws managed it between them. That was in 1992, long time! - the renewal was necessary due to the change in marital status and the consequent changes.
Subsequently, my passport has been issued by embassies abroad, pretty smooth process, no verifications, nothing hassly. I was expecting this time to be a contrast, but surprisingly it wasn't too bad. The new one came through less than a week after the police verification was completed.
This was my second interaction with the Kolkata Police recently, I had gone to the local P.S. for a clearance certificate before leaving for Fiji last year. We'd been told to apply online and it had come through in 48 hours flat, no time at all.
Our films and stories and even the neighbourhood gossip always paint a negative picture of the police, but my real life experiences with them has been quite the opposite. I have been in police stations multiple times and have been treated with courtesy, efficiency and exemplary professionalism each time. I also have close family members who have been victims of burglaries and the police has unerringly recovered the stolen items within weeks. Therefore, I am a fan of our police force and this is my own small way of countering all the negative stereotypes flying around.