FRO – Part 4: Return Of The Foreigner

Not too long ago I vented my frustration over the absurd amount of paperwork and back-and-forth involved with registering oneself as a foreigner in this country.

Well, we decided to drop the gloves and escalate this by hiring ourselves an agent. Enter Alok Mane; bureaucratic fighter and stamp assassin. We met him and went through our predicament, handed over all the paperwork we’d gathered and let him at it. A few days later he had the whole C-form business sorted out. Yes, just like that.

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Turns out the bozos at the FRO booth – the ones who, as documented below, had more pressing matters to tend to than customers – never even needed to meet our landlord, like they claimed. As a matter of fact, mine nor Sidd’s presence wasn’t needed either. And to top it off our paperwork had been fine on that matter for weeks. Funny thing. They just wanted bribes. But the uncompromisable integrity these noble men possessed wouldn’t allow them to express their desire for monetary bonuses. At no point did they even hint that our problems could be solved instantly with some additional paperwork – you know, the kind of paper with pictures of Gandhi and some numbers.

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Now, mind you, this might also be a smooth co-operation between the two parties; a scheme which creates a need for agents and easy bonuses for clerks. The clerks won’t offer the possibility to accept bribe from anyone they don’t trust – it’s much easier to push people to hire an agent. That way the clerks receive the bribes from a source they’re used to working with.

Be that as it may, our hitman was on a roll and shortly after getting the Certificate of Residence he had a meeting set up for us at the FRO. So today we went there, all three, into the lion’s den. This guy Alok, he’s a real smooth operator: he knows the people at the FRO and can navigate the murky waters like a trained shark with a taste for ink. He gets stuff done. All the clerks we presented our paperwork to were counting the months I have been here, unregistered, and by the time they had four fingers up they all had this “Four months late!? Are you kidding me?”-look. How did we even have the nerve to show up there anymore? But he handled it like a pro and talked them over.

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Although, Sidd did have to write a handwritten apology letter to the commissioner, for us being so tardy. You know, because it’s our fault. I signed it and, after handing everything in, we were informed we would still have to come in twice before I get the final papers. Oh, and someday a FRO employer might ring our doorbell and expect to see me, just to make sure we’re not pulling anyone’s leg. Yes, that is someone’s job description.

There is light at the end of the red tape tunnel, and next week this will finally be over – one way or the other.

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