Tuesday, June 28, 2011

24

Dedications:

Thanks to Utkarsh Malhotra for suggesting the title, and how it could be an episode with appropriate mixture of spices.

Kshitij Tulsyan always says “While stating his laws, Murphy kept Bhatta in his mind”. Well yet again the God was right.

Thanks to Nikhil Gupta for being a constant support to the extent that I didn’t even read the format and rules and believed what he said. It paid off badly in the end, as although he didn’t say anything wrong, but just missed telling something crucial.

Scene 1:

17th June 2011, ~ 11 am

About to print my admit card, I take a deeper look at the regulations stated in the familiar and ignorable format of T&C. However digging deeper to my surprise were exceptions laden with shocks, such as stating the following exception-

‘For students in Bangladesh, India, Nigeria and Pakistan the only valid form of Photo ID is a passport. There are no exceptions to this rule.’

Surely being a part of this elite 4 list wouldn’t raise the head of any Indian. Anyhow I made an urgent call home to courier my passport immediately via airmail as it lay at home. Unsure whether it would reach within stipulated period, I could breathe only an iota of relief 4-5 hours later after receiving my father’s call confirming delivery of the courier.

Scene 2:

22nd September 2010, ~ 5-6 pm (ironically exactly 9 months prior to GRE)

At the Delhi Cantt Station, I alongside my bag got drenched entirely in rain as not a single item within the bag was spared. However the shock dawned on finding the passport entirely faded from the original color belonged to the list. Thus I beheld the very passport, which had been my key to the outside world being annuled by the Regional Passport Office, Delhi to make way for a new one till 24th January after standing in queues for a long time and harassed endlessly. Paying a fees of Rs 2500 rather than the standard 1000 (Rs 1500 as punishment for damaging, to rub salt on my wounds) I expected Tatkal-speed services as they informed me about lack of tatkal service in this case. To console, they handed a slip (receipt) for the same, rather than some temporary usable document. Without an automatic visit by the police and obliged to call him myself by the guard’s information a month and a half later,the matter of police report clearance settled with a bribe (amount not to be declared publicly). Since then, 3 months have passed and online track reads as it did 2 months ago:

“Police Report is Clear. Application is under Process.”

Scene 3:

17th June, 10 pm

The contents of the courier were the damaged (cancelled) passport, renewal receipt alongside a print-out of application status by me, which I considered an apt replacement for a currently valid passport. Despite that, the briefness of the authorities in stating the rule compelled me to call GRE office in US- early morning according to NY Standard Time. An air of confusion and sympathy was pervasive in the ISD call, as when the receiver began informing me about their senior’s decision regarding the issue, my balance (Rs 148 to begin with) had vaporized late into the night with shops being closed and no major notes in my wallet. With only ATM card in the pocket, I ran, withdrew Rs 800, got my SIM recharged to be relieved- only to be reminded few hours later about having forgotten my card in the machine itself adding to my woes.

After speaking to another receiver at the GRE office and explaining the situation all over again, with confirming my details on the other side (ISD), the reply was adamant stating “I understand your situation, but rules are rules. You can go to the centre, but we would recommend you not to since you’d lose all your moneyif not allowed ($ 190)” rather publicizing their introductory offer of 50% fees with full refund to take in the new format. To worsen situation, the rules required decision 3 days before the test- meaning the next day which was a Saturday (closed office) with the regional office already closed due to the lateness of the hour and with no defined online procedure for the same. Consulting my parents for the same, who asked me to take the risk to avoid future regrets, I once again noticed despite my age I could still break down at times and weep on till I was loudly crying and the only in front of them. Consulting Prometric office later into the night for some online makeshift and being rewarded with helter-skelter procedure, I postponed the decision till the next day.

Scene 4:

18th June 2010, 10 am

Thankfully GRE center in Bangalore was open on a Saturday morning and they entertained my call but rebuffed the documetns as inappropriate but when I called again with serious tone asking to arrive personally at the office, he explained how he must abide to American instructions. Thus a caprice of 80-20(%) of being allowed inside now stood at 100-0 and postponement was the only sensible thing. Through the long and unreliable suggested online method, I availed the date of 29th September for the new format- the very thing I’d set to avoid and thus avidly learned the word list. Meanwhile I blocked my ATM card which could be unlocked only at IIT-Delhi branch. These 24 hours easily summarized one of the worst in my life.

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