Today was our FRRO appointment, which was something we had been dreading. We had heard several stories and read other blogs about experiences in India’s FRRO offices, and had very low expectations for today’s visit.
First off, we tried to make appointments on the computer last night, because you have to fill in an online application form (each) and then at the end of the process it asks what date you want the appointment. For hubby’s, it told us we had passed our 14 days and asked if I would like to make an appointment with a penalty. How this was false, this was the only option. We selected today’s date and said yes, but it automatically said our appointment was in three days. So then when I went to book mine, I’ll requested the date the same as hubby’s and printed them both out. Upon looking at our print outs, we noticed that hubby’s appointment was for today and mine for Thursday. Jeez! Not surprising, but irritating.
Soooo…. Off we troddled today, in a taxi who knew where he was going as luck would have it, for the 45 – 60 minute ride through terrible traffic, to about the farthest south you can possibly go in Mumbai. The driver parked and we went in and had an almost totally painless experience at the FRRO. Most of the staff we fairly quiet and unhelpful (outwardly so) but when we asked they would tell us what to do. There were tons of people sitting around waiting, and we kinda thought maybe that’s what we should do, as someone had told us “wait and they will call you”. After awhile, we noticed that some people who had arrived after us were going in, so i asked (nicely) someone if we were just to wait, and they ushered us in.
The gentleman who worked us through the process was very lovely and efficient. After he processed hubby, he noticed that my appointment wasn’t for two days hence, and we played dumb and asked if there was possibly anything he could do, or would we have to go back again? He tried and failed a few things on his computer, tsking the whole time, and then said he would go talk to someone. He came back a few minutes later, and voila, he processed me. He even gave us two extra days extension, “just in case”. He was great!
The office was fine, they sold water and refreshments, you can get your papers, xerox copies, and photos there for a fee (we had all this). We didn’t check the washroom facilities, but people were going in and out and seemed fine.
We believe the key here, was that we were the best behaved. There was an obnoxious American guy who was demanding a receipt for his photo, which cost 100 INR ($1.75 CAD) and kept saying he needed it for his agent. Whatever. There was a group of scantily clad yoga and girls from Australia, who were totally disorganized and bitchy, then a bunch of other folks who just seemed very grumpy, and then us. We expected beurocracy and for it to take time, we were prepared, and we were pleasant. So easier to deal with. Our hotel manager had told us the previous day that if you act like a jerk there, they will just tell you to sit down and wait…. Like anywhere else I guess.
We went late, because we had to pick up a letter from our clinic and we had NO idea how bad the traffic was, so we arrived at 12:00, and they stop taking applications at 1:00. We were out of there by 2:00, stepping out into the worst monsoon of all so far, and lo and behold, our taxi driver had waited the two hours for us! He was great too; so much greatness!
Hint – if you are travelling from the top of Mumbai to the bottom or vice versa, and a taxi driver asks you if you want “ceiling”, “sailing”, “sealing” and you have no clue wtf he is talking about, what he means, is “do you want to take the SeaLink” bridge. The answer is yes. It is a toll bridge that costs 55 INR (96 cents CAD) and cuts a 45 min drive to 5 mins…. So just say yes. We had no clue about ceiling, sailing, sealing, and said no because we thought he was asking if we were going sailing, but on the way back he explained it to us… Lol.