I remember during my times at university when I used to go every year to the Questura di Milano (the Police Headquarter in Milan) to renew my passport. I remember the endless queue of Africans, North-Africans, and Balkans, packed outside one of the entrances of the barracks, with their covers and sleeping bags (most of them were sleeping outside not to lose their place) waiting to have their working or resident permits approved, renewed or regularized.
I remember very well this image because it was accompanied by two strong (and somehow opposite) feelings. First, the empathy for these people: far from home, probably not speaking Italian, waiting and fighting to have a piece of paper. Second, the (perhaps selfish) relief for having the luck of not being among them. I didn’t know at that time I would have had to experience a similar experience myself a few years later...
“Registration required within 14 days of arrival in India”, my Indian visa states. And so, with the trusty Satish (below a picture), I went today to the FRRO, the Foreign Regional Registration Office, to register myself. A Dantesque hell is the best image I can think about to describe the situation I had in front of me. A jungle of people, of all races and ages, crowded together, pushing each other and elbowing their way forward, shouting at the FRRO employers while waving pieces of paper, and insulting each other. ‘Now I understand the chaos theory’ I said to myself...
In (only) one hour I managed to get a number, written in pencil on a torn piece of paper. That number supposedly indicated my turn. That conquer, in a relatively short period of time considering the premises, should have instilled hope in me. But looking at the jungle around I felt more lost than anything else. But while half discouraged and half in despair I was passively waiting for the divine Providence, trusty Satish took my papers and disappeared in the crowd. About ten minutes after he suddenly re-emerged from that crowd and made me a sign to follow him. Without really understanding how, I found myself in front of an FRRO officer who was asking me, severely staring at me, questions in Hindi - to which Satish was answering. Without seeming too convinced, the officer took a few stamps, singed a few papers, wrote down a few numbers, and before I realized it, she handed me my Registration Permit.
I still wonder what happened, and how Satish managed to get all the papers done. But - I learnt - that's also 'India, incredible India', and the most important thing is that, starting from today, I am officially a ‘foreign resident’ in this country...
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comunque in questo caso hai dimostrato che la prassi italiana di avere gli amici giusti al momento giusto è la tattica vincente per ottenere ciò di cui si ha bisogno...ReplyDelete
devo dire che gli sto scoprendo che indiani sono molto "italiani"...ReplyDelete
italiani indiani una faccia una razza?ReplyDelete
be'... con i baffoni somiglieresti un po' al tuo trusty satish...ReplyDelete
oh poor Matteo, you have got into the maws of the Indian Bureaucracy!!! But take heart - they are equal opportunity tormentors for foriengers and Indians alike. I can tell you many stories about the Indian consulate here in DC, which you fortunately did not have to visit!ReplyDelete
But the moral of the story is never trust the line and always 'know' someone who can help you transact with the Indian officialdom!
hey Arati, Re: "the moral of the story is never trust the line and always 'know' someone who can help you transact with the Indian officialdom" - as I wrote in one of my previous commets, I am discovering that Indians and Italians are very much alike...ReplyDelete