Monday, October 3, 2011

Annual Anguish!

We are now approaching our one year anniversary - we left the US November 19th and arrived here in Bangalore November 21st - so not exactly sure which of these days is our actual 1st year Bangalorean Birthday, or what happened to November 20th 2010?

Anyway we are now embroiled in the process of renewing/extending our visas and residence permits.

After collecting the relevant documents and photos we (just Simon and me for the first leg) set off for the FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) which we last visited December 2nd 2010. How do I remember?, it was our wedding anniversary and we plus kids spent a substantial amount of time there for our initial residents permits. Anyway this was a quick visit (Part 1 of 2) to get a police report request document, essentially an official signed document telling us we needed to go and get a police report.....

Next stop HAL police station. I don't have many police station visits in the western world with which to compare this with. But it was definitely like a trip back in time. Although there was an armed policeman at the door, neither we nor our bags were searched on the way in and the policeman frequently left his gun unattended, propped against the wall when he went off to do other things. Not sure if that was reassuring or not!
These pics were taken surreptitiously with my phone so are not very clear. Behind the desk is a cork board headed "Rouge Gallary" (their spelling errors - not mine) onto which villains pictures were pinned and graded 1 to 5 - whether an evilness ranking or danger factor who knows! There were piles of huge, cumbersome ledgers, all hand written, each for a specific criminal event -  from "Rowdy Incidences" to "Cow Theft." There was a lot of handwriting going on with copious amounts of carbon paper!

There was indeed a "lock up" for the bad guys - in the middle of the hallway black iron bars though which we could see the rather tame, quiet and subdued looking villains, watching us watching them. I sometimes wonder if in India we are the spectator or the spectacle!!

Our first port of call was with the "Station Writer" who had to write up a report to justify that we are indeed residents in their jurisdiction. For some reason a signed lease is not good enough. This had to be signed off by the big boss of the police station who wasn't yet available (or arrived) and there didn't seem to be an ETA. We decided to go home and wait to be summoned, which happened several hours later. The people waiting when we first arrived were still there. We were finally signed off as true residents and now have to plan our second visit to the FRRO with the kids - that'll be the long drawn out wait, wait, wait which will sign and seal our second year here in B'lore.

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