India Trip – Don’t Lose that Boarding Pass!

I took a few weeks off from my India trip blog, but before I forget.. this one is good and I’ll remember this for a long time!

When we were returning from Goa to Mumbai by Air.. this is an amusing (it wasn’t funny when it happened – trust me)…

I passed through security final security check point and my carry on bag was pulled aside for “questionable content”.. I had some small scissors in a case as part of my overnight stuff. Remember this is has been in my bag since we came to India and it was not flagged in ANY security check points neither in US nor on the flight TO Goa..

So I said to the security guy.. go ahead and take the scissors.. as I had forgotten that I even had them. They removed the offending item and I was on my way.. with my carry on bag.. Of course this is where the fun begins.

I met my daughter and we were getting some snacks pre-flight and I ask her whether she has my boarding pass and she of course says “NO dad.. you have your own pass!”. Of course I did not have it! I had left it behind at the security check point.. and in being flustered at the bag check.. I had left for the gate w/o the boarding pass.

We went to the gate and asked for a duplicate pass and of course.. the gate agent said “We cannot print  you a new pass, you will have to go BACK and get a new pass at the checkin gates”.. Panic sets in.. Keep in mind this airport is ultra modern with all the amenities you want except #IndigoAir cannot print boarding passes at their gates!

The agent tells me to go back to security check point and see if the boarding pass was pulled aside.. I race back to security and of course it’s not there.. The security officials send me to the customer security desk.. monitored by the military.. I go over to the security desk and explain to them my situation (and the officer was very very patient and helpful I must say)… he was aghast that the gate agent asked me to go back through security to get another duplicate from the check in gate agent at the front of the airport!

After I tell him my sad stupid mistake.. he asks me to go back to the gate and get the gate agent.. so I race back to the gate and ask the gate agent to come to the security desk.. so now we both go back to the security desk and she says again.. “Customer must get new boarding pass from check in desk at front of the airport”.. The army officer goes ballistic and says.. “No.. he is the customer.. you go to the front and get him a duplicate”.. After a few minutes of back and forth… the gate agent finally agrees to have a duplicate boarding pass sent back through security  gate.. so I can board my flight!

This wait was about 15 minutes.. whereas the gate agent said they would print the duplicate and be here in 2 to 5 minutes.. Well of course this was not the case.. So here I am sweating profusely at my stupidity for losing my boarding pass after security check.. as well a quite bit embarrassed. By this time my daughter is texting me as our boarding time is approaching for our flight to Mumbai is approaching…

Finally the Indigo Air customer service agent comes and gives me my duplicate boarding pass.. I snatch it and make a beeline to the gate. Can you guess what happens next???

My daughter and I are boarding at the gate and the gate agent (a new gate agent).. says “Sir you cannot board.. Your boarding pass is not security stamped!”.. So the gate agent tells me to “run back to security and get the boarding pass security stamped.. Let me lay out this scenario.. the distance from the gate to the security check point is at least 1/10 of a mile..

So now my daughter boards and I sprint back to the security check.. I ask the military official to stamp the boarding pass.. and he just looks at me in disbelief and and refuses to stamp my pass.. By this time.. I’m sweating profusely and my NY attitude is surfacing with multiple choice words about to be expounded by my vocabulary..

Luckily the security desk guy (again.. I must say this officer was totally amazing!).. sees my distress and comes over and tells the other guy to stamp the pass.. I guess he had rank.. so the security reluctantly stamps the boarding pass.. and I race back to the gate to board the flight finally!

Now lessons to be learned here:

  • Never ever assume that security in Indian Airports is consistent
  • Never ever let go of your boarding pass when you pass through security check in India.. Of course.. there is NO cellphone boarding passes.. so you are always dealing with paper!
  • Remain calm.. always say to yourself —> “This is India and you are wrong.. as they are just following their directions”.. this will absolutely nullify any anger and panic you are feeling
  • Security at Airports is very very tight… If you don’t pass through multiple security check points with the same information.. something is very very wrong.. The terrorism threat in India is taken very very seriously!
  • Stay Calm! After all you are the one at fault. even if what is the norm in America.. you cannot expect this level of normalcy in India.. even if technologically India has really surpassed America (i.e. Dual Sims Phone are the norm in India.. we don’t have ANY Dual sims phone in US!)
  • Remember that even though technology is superior in India.. they are still living in the paper world with process!
  • Always, Always, Always.. make sure your carry on bags don’t contain anything that may cause you grief.. Well how would  I know that my cuticle scissors that I’ve been taking everywhere would be flagged at this airport??

After I got on the plane.. I did a silent prayer and told my daughter of the whole episode.. She of course was laughing so hard that tears were coming out.. Well what more can you expect??

So my next post will talk about what happened with Air India on the way back to India. Again.. totally my fault.. but who knows what is can happen when in India..

India Trip- Mumbai Airport

When we went to India, we arrived in Mumbai Airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport). This airport is really impressive. Be prepared to walk, this is truly an impressive airport.

When I came here 6 years ago, the airport used to be called Sahar Airport, and it was un-impressive. The design and architecture of this airport now is very impressive. The airport is spacious  and comfortable but let me warn you.. you will walk and walk and walk a substantial distance from the gate to the Immigration area.  I estimated that I had to walk at least a 1/4 of a mile..

Immigration is where the fun starts.

If you don’t know what you are doing (and I’m one of those people), you are guaranteed to go to the wrong lines. In India, you have Indian Nationals, OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) and Visa Holders (me!).

Each of the above has a separate line and you can easily spend an hour on each of these lines as I had to do on two of the lines. The OCI Line for my daughter and the Visa line for me. Of course her line was pretty efficient, but the fun was on my line. I was redirected to the “special” line for Visa Holders.

BTW, you should make sure you print out your e-Visa as this paperwork is absolutely essential.. Otherwise you will not be able to enter India! We almost lost this paper copy of my e-Visa in Newark, as it fell out of our passport folder.. Luckily, I picked it up from the floor at Newark Airport!

In each of the visa lines, there are plenty of stations for visa processing, BUT only a few are  actually manned.. Maybe this was a slow work day?

On my e-visa line, after waiting 45 minutes for the 2 manned stations, I finally got to the counter. My visa was in order.. but of course, they wanted to take retinal scans as well as fingerprint me. Security is a great thing when things work well. I realized quickly that the fingerprint scanner was not working well at all. I was asked to put wax on my fingers to get a better read.. of course the container that the agent gave me didn’t have any wax!

After about 10 minutes of sweat (mine), somehow, I was stamped on my paper e-Visa and allowed to enter India! Both hands were fingerprinted and a retinal scan was done as well.

To get to your baggage, you nave to exit thru the Duty Free Shop. Onward to Baggage Claim!

We get our bags, and I decide to get some local currency.. Bad Idea! Remember the word de-monitization. There were limits on how much US Currency I could convert. I could only convert $40.

Finally we get out and we need to two floor up to get our ride.. Elevators  are a commodity. It took us about 45 minutes as we had to wait among my fellow traveler’s as we patiently waited for the two elevators.

In retrospect, I was really impressed with the size and comfort level of the airport. The inefficiency of the immigration lines need to be addressed. When you see this airport you see the efforts that the Indian Government has made in making the Airport comfortable.

Just make sure you are wearing your walking shoes!

 

India 2017- A Trip in Review

First in a series of posts on my Big fat Indian Wedding in India and random thoughts of my trip to India in December of 2016

In the last month of 2016, My daughter and I went to India for the first time in o
ver6 years. We went for an Indian wedding and to say we had the time of our lives would be an understament.

India
India 

To see India as a native is also an experience that was eye opening. There is no country that is more diverse and has sense of pride than India. This country is a super power and you see this everywhere!

As many of my readers know, my writing is infused with a sense of humor. Over the next few postings, I’ll convey to you my views on what I saw during my vacation in Mumbai, Goa, Pune and back to Mumbai. Many of my opinions will invoke responses (hopefully). Much of what I saw and my thoughts should be just considered my views and treated with the humor and realism, I try to inject into my postings.

When I go to India, I am a foreigner.

  • I’m what they refer to as an IBCD (Indian Born confused Desi (slang term for a person of Indian Origin)). This year when I went to India with my beautiful 24 year old daughter, I went with an open mind and went without the normal prejudices I bring to the table when I visit India.

My experience in India was amazing! The changes in the lifestyle of the people that call India home (regardless of whether they live there or are NRI’s like myself), has progressed tremendously.

Some ramblings to start:

  • Be prepared to walk – When you get off the plane, the huge rebuilt terminals are just that.. huge and spacious.. your walk from your plane to immigration and customs will be at least 10 to 20 minutes. The vastness of the international airport in India is a sight to behold. The same holds true for the aiport in Goa.  What you experience in these terminals is for another posting.
  • Your Dollar goes further – If you are coming from United States, you are already at an advantage as you are getting a favorable return on currency. One dollar equals $67 Rupees. This number might make you feel rich, but the fact is that even with this favorable returns on currency exchange, it is quite expensive to get around (be it by taxi or other mode of transportation).
  • Currency and De-Monitization: 2016 was the year of demonitization of the 500 and 1000 rupee note.. this made getting money via ATM, via currency exchange an adventure. Empty ATM machines and Limitations on how much you can exchange for currency for me was quite restrictive. At the airport, I could only exchange $40 for local currency!
  • Change Anyone? Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand and change. Due to de-monitization and the basics how things run in India.. Don’t expect to get change easily.. So everytime you get change for currency you are using for payments, treasure it. You will need it!
  • Rules of the Road: There are none.Forget the concept of normalacy and organized traffic patterns  when it comes to automotive traffic and travel. The law of the land is “If u are in a car, Look Forward only, and lane indications are just for sake of having them“.  Remember that when you cross the streets.. you need to always look “right-left-right” and if you are an NRI, for the first few days, you are always looking the wrong direction when crossing ANY street!
  • Traffic is a mess, but rarely do you see any car that has dents or has been damaged due to an accident. The patience and skills that drivers in India show is amazing.. I have to applaud the patience of every single driver that is in a car, motorcycle, scooter, bus, taxi, rickshaw… and any other vehicle that is on the road!
  • Technology in India is at par with what we see in the US. In certain thing we have been left in the dust. Can you get a dual Sim phone in the US for less than $80?
  • Travel is divided into multiple categories: Pedestrian, Car, Public Transport, or Taxi (can be rickshaw, or taxi). Yes there is even Uber in most cities in India!
  • Travel Light: You can literally go to India with a carry on and get everything you need within 24 hours! With Malls and markets readily available buying d Clothes is not a big deal.. be they Indian or western (for me that’s Jeans, shorts and short sleeves).. So my suggestion is pack light and leave lots of room for souvenirs and clothes that you MUST buy!
  • Family is family – For me I met I attended my first real “Big Fat Indian Wedding”. The size of my family is huge and to meet them in one fell swoop is not only overwhelming, it’s touching. Considering I have 17 first cousins and each of them have a few kids, the family in attendance at the wedding was huge!
  • Curb your apppetite – With India comes food. You get the best variety of food in the world. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian. If you are looking for beef you are out of luck! Cows are sacred in Hindu religion, so you will not get any beef (or at least I didn’t find any) in Mumbai). Friendly advice… if your stomach is weak, make sure you take enough meds to settle your stomach, otherwise you will be making constant trips to the bathroom.. Most of these will not be pleasant as you will be running there! I was lucky.. I only had only 24 hours of this unpleasantness, but the symptoms were around constantly!
  • Security – India is very secure. With all the threats of terrorism, you will see plenty of armed military from the time you land to the time you leave. You will not feel insecure when it comes to this. At times this is overwhelming, but you will see that this is absolutely necessary with the world we live in.

There is so much more that I can write about my trip. I’ll use the next few postings over the next few days to give you my spin on my trip. 

 

Happy Indian Independence Day – 2013

In celebration of India’s 67th Independence day, August 15th, 2013, below are some pictures which showcase the culture of India! Hope yindia67independence0213ouindia2india67 india4 enjoy these picturesindiaproud india5:indiaflag

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OCI – A success story

A success story of someone who got his OCI card after 4 months! Now, I’m the only one left looking in!

As many of my readers know, I love writing about my continued failure in getting an OCI Card from the government of India.  My good Friend AM (same initials as me but with much better success), just got his OCI card after 4 months. I’ve been involved in his process (starting with the application and the Middletown Post Office mailing…) from beginning to end.

My OCI Saga – By guest blogger Mr AM (full name not listed, because we value our guest blogger’s privacy and threats they direct at us)

Finally after a long and grueling wait for 4 months, I was able to go to Indian Consulate in New York city and get the OCI stamped in my American passport. Never imagined that it would take so long, but I have to constantly remind myself that I was dealing with Indian Govt  office and nothing there is logical, it is all at the whims and fancies of the officials sitting in India in some office with nothing better to do than annoy everyone that needs their support.

So I decided to apply for OCI in June of 2010,  and sent in the application with all necessary forms and sent it via Priority mail with delivery confirmation and return receipt. It was more than 2 wks since I sent it and never got the return receipt. Went to the post office and asked them, all they were able to confirm was it was delivered the very next day but some folks choose to send the return receipts in bulk and I may get it late. But I never got it.

 

Even IRS which receives millions and millions of tax returns follows the process and sends the return receipts properly but Indian consulate which may be receiving a fraction of what IRS is getting but never bothers to send the return receipt. Oh I forgot I am dealing with a Indian govt office or probably someone must educate them that they don’t need to pay any postage as it already paid by the sender.  Probably that is what is stopping them from sending it back.

 

After a month,  one day I got a big package from the OCI CELL, yes, they call it CELL, like a prison … and my application was returned because I didn’t include the Indian passport surrender certificate. So I had to apply for that,  but luckily the instructions said, I can include the surrender certificate application along with my OCI application, no need to send it separately. Oh what a help that was.. thank you very much Indian Consulate for being so considerate and humane and letting us send both the applications together!.

 

Then started the wait period, it was like the documents I sent via mail went into some black hole, never got any response back. Wouldn’t  it be appropriate for the Indian consulate to send a confirmation that the documents have reached them and under processing? Oh wait, I am dealing with Indian consulate, nothing is done logically there.

 

So I did some search in Google, found the online status enquiry site and filled in my application number, for one month or so, I got “Application not received” message. What does that mean? Where did the application go? Does that mean it is in Newyork CGI office or where, it just simply drives you nuts.

 

Slowly every 20 days or so, the status was updated stating my application was received, documents are being scanned, documents are printed, documents are being put in cover to be mailed, the mail man has started walking towards the mailbox, the mail main has put the key to the mailroom and finally the document is dispatched and received in New York CGI. Well the first two and the last status are the valid ones, I just put the rest for the kick of it. The statuses were so stupid that I just couldn’t resist putting the rest. Probably after reading this article the Consulate office might think of implementing those statuses.

 

The big day arrived, I was all set to go to Newyork city and hand over my passport to get the OCI visa stamped.  I was told that I have to drop the passport between 9:30 and 11:30 and collect it back between 4:30 – 5pm.  What a waste of time and energy, the consulate has all the necessary documents and all it requires is a little bit of coordination and say they process only 25 OCI stampings, give fixed appointments for folks waiting to get their passport stamped, and they can just give it right on the spot without all these waiting drama.. Oh wait, I am dealing with a Indian govt office, nothing is done there logically.

 

Luckily, my pal (owner of this blog), who grew up in NYC  agreed to join me and that was the best thing to happen. If not, I would not have known where to go or how to kill the time. So we both go to the consulate and there was a long queue waiting outside.  We thought ok, we are going to stand here for the whole day!! Luckily that queue is for other consular activities and we were let in immediately to drop the passport.

 

I got to tell you about the entrance to office. I have seen it only in meat processing plants or in industrial plants where they put these PVC strip curtains instead of doors because of big equipments moving in and out and it saves energy. That type of industrial strength strip curtains where placed in the entrance. It gave me a feeling of a goat or cow entering a meat processing plant to get its head chopped off. It is so heavy and I don’t know why they put it there. Cant they have a door and make it easy for people (particularly it will be v.tough on old people), oh wait cant think logically here, because, yep you got that right, you are dealing with a Indian govt office!!!

 

Stood in a small queue of about 10 folks, handed over the passport and got an encrypted response “come back at 4:30” no other details, no receipt for the submitted passport, nothing. Before even you leave the person in the counter calls the next one in the queue.  So anyone can come in the evening before you and just give your name and collect the passport and go. What a system!!!!!

 

The best part of this trip happened after submitting the passport. Yes, my friend and I went around Newyork city, first went to downtown, saw the construction of the new World Trade Center, walked to Battery park, took the free ferry ride to Staten Island and back to city, had lunch in Chipotle, went to Union Square and spent some time there and then Times Square was our final destination before going back to the butcher shop.. sorry to pick up the passport. Thanks to my friend AM for taking me to places in Newyork city that I have never been to (It is all good places ok.. so don’t let your dreams go wild!!!). Oh I forgot to mention that we went to Apple store and man it was like being in heaven!

Finally we reached the consulate around 4:20, but they wouldn’t let us in because it is not 4:30 yet.  So waited outside and I went in to collect my passport. One thing I noticed really concerned me is in the common sitting area, a huge pile of US and Indian passports were left unattended all over the place, yes those are the ones that come in by mail and they are preparing it for mailing. But that is NOT the place to keep them. Anyone can access that pile of US and Indian passports. So if you are planning to mail your passport in, think twice.

So finally after a long wait of more than 4 months,  spending a day to just get the visa stamped (lucky I had my friend come with me.. If not and if you are new to Newyork, you will be just sitting idle killing time) I got the most coveted visa in the world – OCI (Overseas Citizen of India).

OCI – Saga Continues

The adventures of one family in getting their Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card!

Update as of October 23th, 2010:

My wife and kids have now gotten their OCI cards.. I am still amongst the non-existent… boo hoo me.. But fireworks and a standing ovation to my wife for her persistence in getting the cards for the kids and herself!

This after my wife made a total of 4 trips to the “land of the inefficient” (LOTI) otherwise known as the Indian Government and their consulate in NYC.

Kudos to Madhu for her patience in pursuing with ferocious diligence to get her OCI card. Now she will have to do the same for me once I get my act to together. No one knows if and when that will happen.

oh yeah, I almost forgot… Prior to her 3rd visit the Government of India sent her application and can you guess what they included with this application? … drum roll please.. The included a complete application of a totally different individual with all her personal information. This was included with her package which was sent to her for some nonsensical validation that was missing.

Next week, I will be visiting the LOTI with my pal as he gets his OCI.. I’m certain everyone will be waiting with bated breath as we traverse LOTI and get his OCI. I’m going to take notes so perhaps, my fortune will be better when I re-apply.

I’ve written about my Overseas  Citizen of  India (OCI) saga for a few months now. Well as everyone knows, I won’t be getting my OCI till I get a copy of my Naturalization Certificate.

My Kids finally got their OCI certification a few weeks ago. My wife, after make a total of 5 trips to the Indian consulate in NYC is still about 5 weeks from getting her OCI certification. Since she got a new passport her process got stretched out, but the overall experience remains the same.

Until she went in person to the Indian consulate, she couldn’t make any progress,.

  • The Indian Consulate is non-responsive to emails and they DO NOT answer the telephones.

Let’s see how much longer it takes for her to get her OCI..

Lighting The Way To My Heritage – An Introduction

Lighting the way to my heritage

Disclosure: Dad’s taxi is providing this posting as a courtesy to the authors and their first venture into publishing!

I’d like to present a unique opportunity for my readers to order  a book and DVD on Hinduism. This book and DVD is a complete  “hands-on” instructional that parents can read and view with  their children on all facets of Hinduism.
This book and DVD has been authored by Ravi Gaonkar and Padma Shandas and is available for purchase @www.rutusarang.com.
The cost is only $28 in Us and Canada including postage.
Dad’s taxi is providing this introduction as a benefit to my South Asian readers and their families.
The Book: Provides  glimpses of India’s long and rich culture, history, philosophy and religions. There are discussions on the contributions of South Asians in the fields of Mathematics, Medicine, Literature, Music and the performing arts. Biographies  of notable personalities who have left their mark on the rich diversity of Indian culture are also discussed.
The FAQ’s and comprehensive glossary  on Hinduism is a must read! Both the FAQ’s and the glossary will provide insights into the Hindu culture that everyone will find insightful.
The DVD: This is a full instructional video of Shlokas in Sanskrit with subtitles inEnglish on various prayers and their meanings.  Every chapter of the DVD is enriching to everyone, regardless of their knowledge on practicing Hinduism in their daily life!
The DVD introduces the practice of prayers utilizing (39) Sanskrit Shlokas.
Announcing the publication of a Book + DVD combination in September of 2010!
“Lighting the Way to My Heritage”

  • An Introduction to India’s Past, Traditions and Rituals

    This is a first for this type of Book + DVD produced with a unique perspective!
    • This Book + DVD combination will be a classic for you and your family for years to come!
    • This Book + DVD will enable your children and future generations to understand their Indian cultural heritage!
    A promotional video is available on YouTube and ordering information @www.rutusarang.com. Hope you enjoy this introduction to Hinduism for you and your family!

OCI – Overseas Citizen of India follies

Overseas Citizen of India Card and the follies of the Indian embassy in NYC!

11/24/2014

After 4 years of hunting, I’m finally going to proceed to get my OCI card!

Yes fans, I finally found my long lost Naturalization certificate that the Indian Government wanted so desperately to see!

Whopee

8/2/2010: Here’s an update on my OCI situation.. I was of course rejected by the Indian Government in my application for the OCI card,  as I could not provide a Naturalization certificate.

BTW, this will cost me an additional $380 to be paid to the the homeland security team in the US. So my total cost for an OCI in the end will be about $810.

  • $275 (fee) + $175 (surrender certificate) + $380 (Replacement Naturalization certificate).

In addition, the $350 we had to pay to the Indian Government is gone.. with no hopes of getting that back.

My wife and kids are now approved for their OCI which they will get in the next few weeks.

I gotta tell you this whole experience has left me shaking my head in disbelief at the ineptitude of the Indian politicians that want our dollars, but make is to difficult for anyone to get an OCI. For the worlds largest democracy, this whole experience has left a bad taste in my craw..

Oh, I will get my OCI later than sooner, but after this I do hope I never have to deal the process that ties you up in knots when you are trying to do a good thing for both your family and yourself.

6/2/2010:

So today I found out that the Indian Government does have some level of common sense. The famous Mrs. Pushpa Kumar of the Indian Consulate of New York sent me an email saying the Indian government had rescinded the regulation on the requirement of the attestation rule.  Whoo, Whoo, Happy days..

I guess the hundreds and thousands of petitions that were submitted by frustrated people to the Indian government did have an impact. Unfortunately for me, I’m still out the $350 that I had to pay for a piece paper which enforced an regulation that never should have been enforced in the first place. So now they want us to resubmit our applications so they can continue to reconsider our application.  Let’s see how far we get this time when we resubmit our application. ..

Dear Sir/Madam,

A large number of OCI cards received from New Delhi have not been collected by the applicants. Applicants are requested to check the status of their application online: http://ociindia.nic.in/ociindia/OnlineOCIenquiry.jsp and if their documents are at the Consulate, they should arrange collection of their OCI card and ‘U’ visa. Detailed procedure is given at: http://indiacgny.org/php/showContent.php?linkid=177&partid=100&sub=sub6.

The documents required for the purpose are: (i) US passport in original; (ii) a print out of the online status which can be obtained by hooking on to the above mentioned site; (iii) return mailing charges of US$20 (if not already paid) by way of money order/bankers’ check (if the documents are required by mail). The OCI applicants who have valid Indian passports or whose passports have expired but not cancelled may kindly ensure that they also send their Indian passports so that these can be cancelled by the Consulate.

Due to a recent requirement of surrender certificate, some OCI applications were returned to the applicants with a request to furnish the surrender certificate with the application. This requirement has now been withdrawn. If your application was returned, you may wish to resubmit your application. Before sending the application, kindly ensure that it is complete in all respects (details may be seen on our website: www.indiacgny.org) and the application and supporting documents are in duplicate.


With regards,


Consulate General of India, New York

Here’s an update on the worldwide uproar on the strict enforcement of the surrender of Indian Passports as it relates to getting an OCI card;

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/05/28/2010-05-28_india_nationals_irate_over_new_rules_for_visas_and_passports.html

Basically, this new rule makes the people that want to visit India, unable to visit, due to the complex and bureaucratic enforcement of a rule that was never really enforced.. As they say in India.. Welcome!

Over the past month since my return from my vacation, my wife and I have been going through the process of getting our Overseas Citizen Of India Cards (OCI) for our family. Well let me tell you something, if you want to taste frustration in all its glory of dealing with the Indian government and it’s processes, you need to experience this process at least once in your life.

In the past (Only a few months ago!),  I  it was very easy to get the OCI card.  You filled out the necessary paper work, paid the $275 per person and within a few months voila you had the OCI card!

Well someone in the Indian government decided that hey, let’s make this as difficult as possible for ANYONE of Indian descent to get the OCI card. Well they succeeded!

Here’s some of the exasperating scenarios my wife and I faced:

  • After following the myriad of requirements for applying for a family of four, we submitted our application as per the on-line instructions using the completed  downloaded applications. Wow ain’t technology grand.  This was the easiest part (at least I thought so initially).
  • AFTER we submitted our application about a month ago, the Indian Government and it’s agency the Consulate General of India in NYC decided that they wanted to make things difficult and miserable for all applicants of Indian Descent (of course if you were born in the US, youwere spared the misery – at least this is  good news for my U.S. Born children!)
    • Without prior notification on May 7th, the Indian Gov’t changed the rules!
    • Now they wanted in addition to their original paperwork, they wanted US naturalized citizens (of which my wife and I am), to submit a “Surrender of Indian Citizenship Attestation Form” (SICA)which has to be notarized with an additional fee of $175 per person.
    • US Citizens have to submit a “COPY of their Naturalization Certificate“, their Indian Passport and a copy of their respective US Naturalization certificate.
      • For those who don’t know, copying a naturalization certificate is against United States Government and Immigration Rules! This rule is clearly stated on the naturalization certificate.


  • In order to  get our attention, we received  a cryptic email from the consulate general (initially I thought this was a phishing scam), saying you need to fill out the SICA in order for our application to be processed.
  • The email that I got from “Mrs. Pushpa Kumar” is sampled below.

Dear Applicant,

Please refer to your application(s) for the OCI status which has been received in the Consulate recently.

As you are aware, Consulate General of India, New York, receives a very large number of applications for OCI status. In order to deal with the heavy rush of applications in the past few months, we had constituted a task force and put in extra efforts to clear the applications. In fact, all OCI applications, which were received in the Consulate till April 30, 2010 and found to be complete, have been processed.

Meanwhile, the Consulate has received instructions from the Government of India that applicants for all services, including OCI/PIO applications (including those whose applications are under process or whose OCI documents have not yet been delivered) are required to submit a Surrender Certificate for cancellation of the Indian passport and renunciation of the Indian citizenship. Details are posted on our website: www.indiacgny.org. Kindly note that submission of Surrender Certificate is a mandatory requirement and the OCI/PIO applications can not be processed nor can OCI documents be issued without the aforementioned certificate. This is not applicable to the foreign-born children who never held Indian passports. However, their parents held the Indian citizenship in the past and they are advised to obtain the Surrender Certificate for future reference.

Kindly furnish the Surrender Certificate urgently so that further action on your OCI application/OCI documents can be taken by the Consulate.

We regret the inconvenience caused.

Assuring you of our best considerations.

With regards,

Consulate General of India, New York

  • Of course if you call the consulate in NYC or you reply to the cryptic email, you will not have no luck as the consulate does not believe in picking up the phone or replying to emails! The line that really made me snicker was  “Assuring you of our best considerations“.
  • When we originally applied in April, this rule was not in play, so post application we were the lucky recipients of this new ruling by the Indian Government!

We scanned the OCI site and it’s associated FAQ site and both pages contradicted each other on the NEW requirements to get the OCI ! The only consistency was the need for the Surrender certificate!

So we filled out the surrender form, got the bank check for the extra $350 and we figured we were on the right path! Wrong!

My wife Mady went to NYC to the consulate on her day off to expedite the revised process and what she saw there was total chaos.  Lines out the door, nasty information clerk who was yelling at, other people that were in the same boat we were in, and just general arguing and mini fights were breaking out on the huge lines (at least 75 deep), and overall it was just an unbelievable scene. Keep in mind, many of these people came from out of state so they could address this new rule.

If you have ever gone to the Indian Consulate in NYC, you can empathize with what I wrote about above.  Even though you are in NYC, you are on Indian Soil and as the natives say in India:  “This is India”. Basic consideration for customer service does not apply. Clerks can walk away from their station and “disappear” for extended periods, lunch time is lunch time, and of course the courtesy factor or lack therefore of

So Mady was (understandably) frustrated/exhausted/fed-up by mid-afternoon and came home without accomplishing her goal.

So today, Mady went back for the second time in two weeks, to the consulate in NYC  first thing in the morning, hoping to submit our application with our surrender notification.  She went through multiple gyrations, because of my missing naturalization certificate and the fact that the consulate insisted on having an Indian Passport of an Naturalized US citizen.. When we both were naturalized over 20 years ago, we both had surrendered our passport to the US government, as was the rules at that time!

What she told me she saw at the consulate was beyond belief. Crying infants, adults, and just chaos in general.

I have to hand it to Mady for her patience and diligence. She ran around uptown Manhattan trying to notarize mutiple  handwritten notes saying both of us were denouncing our Indian Citizen ship so we can continue the process to get the OCI card!

Her first effort with the hand written notorized note was rejected by the consulate for being “too sloppy”. So she had to rewrite the note and get it re-notorized. This of course meant, she had to go out and get the revised “neat” note notarized.

After spending all day in NYC at the consulate,  Mady was finally able to re-submit our forms for OCI consideration.

I have to give Mady a big thumbs up for being courageous enough to walk through the valley of stupidity that is so rampant in the Indian consulate. Now, I’m not usually this passionate about my views, but for any government agency to have customer facing people so rude and insensitive, there is something really wrong with this picture.

Like I said, it’s a good thing I was not there, otherwise, I’d have been arrested for being the cause of the riot that would have taken place. The level of incompetence is just beyond belief at this consulate. Doesn’t the consul general care about what is going on here?

Of course now the cost for this process has gone up to almost $400 for each of us! I guess, it’s priceless this experience (Similar to the American Express Commercial).

Let’s see what happens over the next few weeks.  If the stars align and our fortunes are lucky, we should not have any additional issues.

Yet, my gut instinct says that as I write this Ms. Pushpa Kumar has some more emails she would like to send to me!