Monday 25 September 2023



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.  


  1. Hari OM
    Police forces everywhere are an essential component of a civil society... but sadly, as with everything 'news', we only ever hear of the negative stuff and not al the gazillions more good stuff! Paperwork and checking gives purpose and meaning to the relative documentation - otherwise why bother with it at all... though, even then as you point out, there are abuses... Glad yours is sorted! YAM xx

  2. I am so very glad to read this. Bad (and often incorrect) news spreads fast, while good news hides its light under a bushell. A heavy bushell.

  3. Most cops are good people trying to do their best.
    You captured getting a passport (or driver's license) perfectly.

  4. Nila, I'm pleased the new passport went without a hitch. I'm glad. As Yamini says, we usually only see negative reviews of the police. But without them, where would we be?

  5. glad your identity has been renewed with minimal hassle. Cops are folks trying to do their job. I'm sure they appreciate a calm attitude, preparedness with paperwork, and a willingness to do what's necessary for the proper precautions. Stuff can get so amped these days.
    Good poem - your descriptions are just SO spot on