Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trip to the Vijayanagar Empire: Hampi

Since loads of folks have asked me about the trip, thought would finally stop being lazy n jot down some stuff about our trip back in time to the Vijayanagar empire, Hampi. This trip was an amazing experience thanks to Sreya and Anindya who invited us along. Didn't really expect much after our numerous beach holidays but getting history lessons turned out to be surprisingly fascinating and truly exceeded our expectations. It was interesting to go back in time to hear the stories of the Vijaynagar empire, the legacy they left behind for future generations, and of course Indian mythology as depicted in the carvings. It truly is a vast contrast to the fast-paced technological world that we live in today.

To get there, you can either take a train to Hospet and then hire autos to get around. Most of the auto drivers also serve as guides and will take you around the heritage sites. Or if you do not want to be dependent on local transport, you can drive down from Hyderabad or Bangalore. We drove down from Hyderabad, so took the ORR onto the Hyd-Bangalore expressway and then the route we followed was Jadcherla, Mahboobnagar, Raichur, and Gangawati. The roads were pretty good till Gangawati. After that we took a detour to Kampli till we finally reached Hospet which is the nearest town to visit Hampi. It's around 6-8 hrs drive from Hyderabad depending on your driving speed.

Our trip begins: Sunrise on the Outer Ring Road, Hyderabad

There are plenty of hotels to stay in and around Hampi. However, based on reviews we shortlisted Hotel Malligi which is the only 3 star hotel there. The rooms are clean and nice and the restaurants in the hotel serve non-vegetarian food which was a plus for 4 non-veg bongs in what was primarily a vegetarian town. The hotel also has a pool which is a godsend coz after sightseeing in the heat all day, it's the perfect way to unwind and chill.

Accommodation at Hotel Malligi

There are several other hotels where you can choose to stay such as the Hampi Boulder Resorts and Laxmi Golden Beach Hotel but getting there may be a challenge as you need to cross the river and get there by boat. So that option was ruled out for us as we were driving down and had the car with us. Also, if it rains, it may not be accessible and easy to move around so that can be a criteria you can keep in mind while choosing your hotel.

Now about sightseeing, there is loads to see and do. The ruins of the Vijayanagar empire are stunning and set amidst picturesque settings of rolling hills and banana plantations. However, it is important that you get a good certified guide who can also narrate the history of the place and recommend what you should see or not see based on your preference and time limit. We hired a qualified guide recommended by the hotel who customised the itinerary for us and sure had a fabulous time hiking across the ruins, forests and even sailing down the river on the coracle to discover more interesting facets of the Vijayanagar empire. If interested in the services of a guide, you can contact Manjunath at 09448975862. Since there is alot to cover at Hampi, will list out a few places that you can try and fit in your itinerary:

Mustard Ganesh, Hemakuta Hill, Virupaksha Temple and the Bazaar: These are all in the same location within 2-3 kms walk so listed it together.

This picture depicts Lord Ganesha (also known as Ganapathi or Vinayaka) who in Hindu mythology is famous for his love for food. One day he ate so much that his tummy almost burst, so he caught a snake and tied it around his waist as a belt. On this statue you can see the snake carved around his waist. Also he holds the goad, pasha (noose), and his broken tusk. The hand which holds modak (a kind of sweet) is broken and was reconstructed by the Archaeological Survey of India. According to inscriptions found nearby this pavilion was built by a trader from Chandragiri (in present day Andhra Pradesh) in 1506 AD, in memory of one of the Vijayanagara kings – Narasimha II (1491-1505 AD). The view at the back is also interesting. It depicts Lord Ganesha sitting on the lap of his mother Parvati.

A panoramic view from the base of the Hemakuta Hill.

On our way to Hemakuta Hill.

The backdrop of the Hampi Bazaar (Market) and Virupakshi Temple.

Vittala Temple complex: This area features the famous stone chariot or ratha which is itself a miniature temple, carved out of a single rock, to resemble the temple chariots or rathas in which temple idols are traditionally taken out in procession. It also features the 56 'Musical Pillars', which reverberate with music when tapped, the 9m tall statue of Lord Ganesha along with the 'Nobleman's Palace'.

Stone Chariot in the courtyard of Vittala Temple which was inspired by Konark's Sun Temple

Carving of Lord Vishnu on one of the pillars of Vittala Temple. You can even view the partial hues of the colors which still remain

Lotus Mahal, Queen's Bath and Elephant's Stables:

The Lotus Mahal which was a palace for the queen that had among other things, pipes with running water.

This is the elephants stable to house the ceremonial elephants of the royal household. The domes are of various types such as circular, octagonal, fluted or ribbed in design. The area in front of them was a parade ground for the elephants, and for troops. The guards' barracks are located right next to the elephant stables.

Coracle Ride:

One needs to sail down the Tungabhadra river in these ancient traditional, tiny, round bamboo boats - Coracle to view more ruins of the Vijayanagar empire. You can also take a coracle ride to Anegundi another historical place which we could not cover in this trip.

Reached our destination to cover the second leg of our trip. Was the first one to get off the Coracle. The others posing for a pic. :)

Tungabhadra Dam:

The barrage at the Tungabhadra River

When you visit the Tungabhadra Dam, you can go all the way to the lighthouse at the top where you get some fabulous views of the river. In the evenings, there is also a musical fountain show at the garden adjacent to the dam but I would not recommend it unless you want to enjoy some cheesy filmi kannada n hindi music. :)

Another place highly recommended for a unique dining experience is the Mango Tree restaurant. It is built around a mango tree facing the Tungabhadra river and to reach it you need to cross a banana plantation. The food is vegetarian but they do have a wide spread from continental to Tibetan to north indian dishes. You can dine seated on bamboo mats on the floor with food served on low stools while watching cattle graze on the banks of the river.

After 5 hrs of trekking through the ruins, we were hungry, thirsty and tired...and then began a short trek to reach Mango Tree for some lunch.

This was the view from where I was seated. Cattle grazing and the river Tungabhadra in the background.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dreaming of Karwar

I’ve been dreaming of Karwar for around a year now. Ever since I heard of this tiny fishing town called Karwar from Tushita, this place was haunting my dreams, and I knew I had to visit this place atleast once this lifetime. Her ancestors used to reside in an island on the Mandovi River. When the Portuguese arrived, they fled further south and settled down on an island off Karwar. The Indian government has still not recognized these various islands that dot the Arabian Sea so they do not have electricity and run on personal generators thus leaving the island bereft of public utility services such as power and water supply. Islanders run their own diesel generators for day-to-day activities. We were fascinated with her narration of her trips back to the island to visit her grandmom and how choppy the sea waters would be at times, so they would wait at the mainland till it was less dangerous to venture out down the Kali river to the Arabian Sea to reach their island.

Her stories made me conjure up real, vivid images in my mind based on her description and I knew I would one day visit this place but of course I didn’t know that day would be sooner than I thought. Since there was a long weekend coming up, our initial plans were to drive down to Coorg with my school friends Saurabh and Kunal and their respective spouses. However, when that didn’t work out, Sand, Joy and I decided to get the details and route from Tushita and other folks who had driven down recently. Finally, with the best routes and information of places to visit in place, we headed out to Karwar. We started at 6 am, via the Outer Ring Road, and then caught the Hyderabad Bangalore expressway.

At Jadcherla, we got off the expressway to continue our journey to Karwar through Mahboobnagar, Raichur, Gangawati, Koppal, and Hubli. From the moment we started our journey it had been raining, so we were a little worried about the road conditions. However, apart from a few towns, major part of the state highways had excellent roads. After crossing Hubli, around 5:30-6 pm we entered the Ghats. To reach Karwar, the last stretch of around 2 hours was through the winded roads of the Ansh National Park and though the woods were lovely, dark and deep, with the fading light and the rains, visibility had become extremely poor and it was the toughest stretch. To top it, there was no GPS connection, so we had no clue whether we were venturing deep into the forest or headed the correct route to reach Karwar.

Finally, around 8 pm we reached Karwar. Our search for our hotel took us sometime before we figured it was located around 4-5 kms outside town after we crossed the Kali bridge on a hill-top. After crazy twists and turns and a very narrow hilly winded road we heaved a sigh of relief once we spied the hotel. It was raining cats and dogs and I was feeling extremely grateful to be out of the rain when the folks at the reception told us that we had to step outside again to reach our rooms. So in the pouring rain, we go up this dark, grassy, scary, unknown hillside and then we see these cobbled steps going down to an eerie looking building. The only thought going through my head was that I hope I do not step on a snake. The moment we entered the room and saw the view from our balcony, it was sheer bliss and I forgot all about creepy reptiles, I was so entranced. We had a view of the estuary where the river Kali meets the Arabian Sea and felt humbled and grateful that I could view this place in my lifetime. The whole night it was stormy, the wind was whistling, and the doors and windows rattling and it reminded Joy and me of our trip to Pattaya six years ago when we had the same experience during the rains. What is it with us and our trips to seaside places during the rains?

However, if any of you folks ever plan a trip to Karwar, do stay at the Devbagh resort which is located on an island off the Karwar mainland. We stayed on the mainland coz it was monsoons and didn’t want to get stuck on the island due to bad weather but a trip to this island is definitely worth a dekko. The next day after local sightseeing at Karwar, we headed off to Murudeshwar (around 120 kms) away and decided to stop at Gokarna (that is enroute and around 60 km from Karwar) on the way back. Murudeshwar is famous for the world’s 2nd largest Shiva statue and has some spectacular views as the temple resides on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

Next, we decided to visit Om beach at Gokarna. The drive to the secluded Om beach is off the beaten track across these beautiful green forests with glimpses of the sea at intervals. Once we reached, it was a rocky climb down to one of the most pristine, serene and rocky beaches in India. It was tough leaving that place but we do have plans to go and stay in Gokarna next time and spend some more time exploring that region.

The next day we headed out to Goa from Karwar. The roads were lovely, clean, and it was a very green and refreshing drive to Panjim which was around 100 kms away. Reached Panjim, had lunch with one of Sandy’s schoolmate and his GF at this Italian place called CafĂ© Mangii, then headed off to Baga where we had plans to spend the night and pay a visit to Tito’s. Next day, we shopped for all the local wares and with the car fully loaded, headed off to Martin’s Corner for lunch and then began our journey back. For those doing a road trip down south, avoid the Ponda, Mollem, Anmod route. The Karwar route maybe a little longer but you will save time as roads are far better. We took the Mollem national park route and the roads were washed off in some places, there were fallen trees, and it was pouring buckets as expected during the monsoons in the ghats.

So another vacation comes to an end. It was really rejuvenating after the monotony of work and city living. For the last 6 months, had been feeling restless and needed to get away to a place like this to clear my mind of all the stress and events in my life and that’s exactly what this did. I always feel sad when vacations end but I do feel like I’ve got a new lease of life after this trip and feel recharged to take on city life for now until wanderlust strikes me again and I feel the need to set out to newer destinations. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Alcohol, Drugs, and Social Networking - Is there something in common?

Lately, I have heard alot of folks asking whether there are any adverse effects of social networking. Well, it is nice that we get to connect with long lost friends and get to read celeb's tweets first hand but on the flip side it can also go way out of control. What starts as simple networking becomes a dangerous addiction where you forget everything else and this becomes your life. You start living a virtual life and it becomes increasingly difficult to connect to the real world because you are so busy leading your online avatar.

I know it sounds a little dramatic (it did to me too) but most of us wouldn't even recognize the signs till someone tells us. A few signs that you are an addict:

- Do you check your tweets, updates, mails the first thing after waking up? (I check my updates the first thing I wake up with the quilt over my head so that the light from the phone doesn't wake Joy)

- Do you get anxiety pangs and feel lonely when you do not receive any comments, messages or mails? (a friend today mentioned that the height of loneliness is to wake up and find that there are no messages in ur inbox, phone and wall)

- Do you feel the need to announce everything and anything that is happening in your life? (updating what you are having for dinner, or updating your current location such as which restaurant, mall or outlet you are currently visiting for a meal, shopping etc etc)

- Do you forget the time and tasks at hand because you are so busy texting that you are not aware that the time has flown by? (you log in thinking you will take a quick peek before heading out to buy groceries or some other stuff and a few hours later you realize you are still online and lost track of time and it's too late now as stores would have closed for the day or you've been so busy networking that dinner is burnt)

- Are you out for a movie or dinner with friends and spend most of the time checking your updates or texting? (gone for several movies where I landed up texting instead of watching the movie...but then will blame it solely on the movie. :P The movie has to be good enough to divert me from the interesting updates happening on my home page courtesy my friends. Another incident I can think of is where we are out for dinner with friends and we spend alot of time texting each other on our phones)

- Do you refresh your Twitter or FB page atleast 100 times a day and get anxiety pangs when you are in a situation where it's been over an hour due to network connectivity or some other unavoidable circumstances and you are unable to check your updates and messages and that's driving you crazy? (I read somewhere that this is similar to alcohol or drug addiction where you get severe pangs being away from social network sites for too long)

- Do you feel the need to check your updates the last thing before u fall asleep and several times thereafter (there have been days when I've headed off to sleep at 1130 pm and at 1:30 - 2 am when Joy enters the room am still texting)

- Do you feel attracted towards someone who pulls at your emotional quotient with words? You may have never met that person or sometimes barely met that person but you immediately feel a connect coz of the situation you are currently in and that person described exactly how you were feeling at that point of time or something about the words took you back to the past and expressed a deeper, nostalgic yearning for something lost or long gone. Well, most social networking addicts suffer from logophilia where you feel such an emotional connect with words that at times you may get addicted to the writer. We may like what the other person has to say but what we need to understand is that person is writing for an audience similar to real life where we all like to put our best foot forward. Not to take away anything from the writer. They may be genuine and at other times, it may be a "copy-paste" but we have to be aware that it is a virtual world after all and what someone writes online may not necessarily depict who they are in real life. We all try to emulate certain ideals that we have in our head but reality can be a little different.

Well, now that I think of it, I don't want to disappoint singletons or those looking out for love through social networking sites either so who knows it may work and you may meet the match of your dreams through social networking too though personally don't know of any social networking romances yet. However, who knows with the popularity of these sites, this may be the latest avenue to matrimony and finding a partner online. :D

Yup, the list is endless and am sure there are loads more from your own experience. Someone was even mentioning that social networking is spawning an entire generation of narcissists and attention seeking individuals, for example, the frequent DP changes. So what do we do? If you have determination and a strong will power here's what you can try doing:

- Try and give priority to your real life rather than your virtual avatar.
- Limit your networking time for a few hours everyday; maybe allot a specific time which is convenient.
- Enroll yourself in some other social activities that interest you, try and read a book, watch a movie or go for a walk.
- Get rid of your smartphone. Tough in today's fast-paced world but just a suggestion for those who can. :)

If all this doesn't work, GET HELP! :) Are there any Social Network De-addiction centres around? I think I may open one if no one does having been there, done that, researched so much about it, and hopefully recovered from my addiction. Well, I can at least share my experiences and maybe help others recover too. Just saying, have no such plans as of now. ;)

As my ex-classmate from school mentioned: "No more social networking sites please. I'd rather meet people, see their beautiful smiles, dine with them and chat with them."

Maybe, a few of us are forgetting the simple pleasures of life and it's time to get out of this virtual world to our real lives. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be Very Very Angry

Mumbai. July 13, 2011. A series of blasts ripped through the city killing many dreams, extinguishing hope, and driving citizens to the brink of despair. To vent, we can blame Pakistan and the numerous terror outfits active in the country or ask a question - who is responsible for protecting us?

No points for guessing, it is The Government of India.

As parents, employees, or business persons most of us have jobs and we have tasks to perform as part of that job. If we do not perform, we are either fired or our careers take a nose dive. All jobs come with responsibilities.

The Government of India (GOI) is an institution of failure. And who constitutes the GOI? Politicians, bureaucrats, quasi government bodies, and elected institutions like panchayats. From cradle to the grave and after (death certificate), the government plays a role in our lives. And in every step, for most people the GOI fails us – it fails to provide us with hygienic hospitals, clear airy classrooms, good roads and buses to go school, educated teachers who show up for work daily, a higher education system that makes us market worthy and jobs when we finally pass out.

The GOI fails to safeguard us from corruption, bureaucratic apathy, delayed justice and an inefficient, brutal police system.

So to bring in change, we need to change the government. How do we change the government? By doing something, perhaps exercising our right to vote?

Each time we are angry with the government, we must ask ourselves, do I have a voter’s ID card? If you do not have one, get one done. The struggle to get that voter’s ID is part of the struggle to give yourself a government you want. We have to stand up for our rights and the struggle begins with procuring a voter’s ID card. This is your card to freedom.

I have got my card. Now what? Who do I vote for? Everyone is corrupt. Think what is most important for you. What is it that you want the government to provide you? It could be anything – safety, security, job, free healthcare, infrastructure, education, and the freedom to aspire and look forward to a future.

Identify what existing political party would provide you with some of these basic requirements. If you find it easy to relate to a party, I am happy for you. If not, identify the party closest to your dream political party and vote.

There are 200 million people above 18 years living in Indian cities. Most share common aspirations - for a reservation less education system, a robust market economy for jobs, a corruption free efficient administration, women friendly cities, an efficient healthcare system, cities where no mortal fear of being ripped apart in terrorist bombings exists, cities where the judicial system is quick and cops don’t rape and murder citizens.

The first time you vote, your party might lose. But then you have another five years before you can vote again. If each one of us can convince five people to vote along with us, that will be 40 million of change agents. In a country of 1.2 billion, 40 million is not an impossible figure.

We should give ourselves a name. We should go the green peace way. We can organize ourselves into a movement. If you have control of 40 million urban votes, you will definitely catch the attention of the political parties. If you have influence on 200million votes, the politicians cannot ignore us any longer.

When we vote to power the candidates that we want, then we get to choose what we want from the government. And it all starts with being angry, very angry at the government.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Of Smokers, Drinkers, and Husbands!

Over the years, I have played matchmaker several times. Some have worked, some for a while and some not at all. I cant help but notice the diverse expectations one has about an ideal life partner, if such a thing exists. Yes, there are many successful relationships but to make it successful there is alot of hard work and compromises some minor, some major. However, letting go of these prejudices and little quirks, and learning to be more accepting do go a long way. It's not like a successful marriage falls into your lap; you need to tweak a marriage to suit your requirements.

Beyond the euphoria of love defined by candlelit romances, dinners, chocolates, a harsh reality exists. There exists a world where there are daily chores to be attended to, family commitments to be tended to, inlaws to appease, jobs to go to and so on. When that reality hits, some get a rude shock and discover that a marriage is much more than a Mills and Boon's romance as one of my friends recently discovered.

Relationships are complex and dependent on various factors such as an individual's attitude, disposition or outlook towards life, and ability to negotiate, act or handle oneself across various situations when playing the role of a partner.

I was talking to a bachelorette friend a few weeks ago and she was telling me her expectations from her future life partner. She wanted a partner who did not smoke or drink as she considered these traits marriage unworthy. That got me thinking. Does a person who is not a boozer or a smoker make a better life partner? I wouldn't know as the men in my life have these vices and as human beings they are accepting, respectful, and tolerant towards the women in their life. So just wondering how different is it on the other side? Do these traits of drinking and smoking accurately define how a person is in other aspects of his life?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mama's Boys

This post is especially for those Mama's boys who have troubled so many of my dear girlfriends. :D Now that I have said that, let me begin my story. A school friend had a very nice status update today on Facebook. She said that every morning her son tells her he has a surprise for her and picks flowers for her. She does not have the heart to refuse such a lovely gesture though she is allergic to those flowers and would rather sneeze than stop receiving flowers from her son.

As usual my honest self, I found that very sweet and replied saying: "Thats a big compliment from your son. You are his favorite girl atleast for now. Enjoy this phase." Then some guy who I do not know comments: "how can mamma not be the favorite person in a guys life.. inevitable...." Now that comment made my dull day a little more interesting and made me sit up and take notice of this dude.

Those who know me, know my love for such topics and debates. :D We would not be deluged with those umpteen Ekta Kapoor saas bahu sagas if only some men knew when and how to cut the umbilical cord. I say "some men" because I have met several men who are able to transition from Mama to girlfriend to wife or wives smoothly and are definitely not Mama's boys. So I retorted: "Well I don't know about Mama's boys, but I know for sure that I am my hubby's favorite. :P

I say that coz Joy and I have ensured that we do not involve or allow our family to intrude in our personal space whether it is something related to our home, the issue of kids et al. And so far they have given us that space so no reason to complain. This does not in any way take away from the fact that we love our parents. We adore them and will always be there for them but life goes on and in a marriage there is no space for a 3rd person especially a MIL. I say MIL coz most of the break-ups I see these days are because of interfering, domineering MILs and sometimes the sons also add to the wife's misery and do nothing to help.

There are different phases in life and some men have just not been able to make that transition smoothly from boyhood to manhood. As Shakespeare said:
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and entrances and each man plays many parts.
His acts being seven ages.
At first, the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow."

This transition can be extremely difficult for some men who refuse to grow up and leave their Mama's lap.

A very dear friend of mine had a tough time when she got married and moved to another continent because her MIL was omni-present though she lived half-way across the world. The day began with the son calling her in the morning and having a chat and telling her his day's schedule. Then the MIL would give instructions to my friend over voice chat as to what vegetables and what brand of groceries to buy, and dictate what to cook for their daily meals. Since the webcam would be on, the MIL would even inspect the house and give general tips and gyaan about home management. They could never spend time together as a couple coz the son's schedule revolved around his chats with his Mom morning and evening before he left for work and after he returned from work. The son was suffering from a serious bout of Oedipus complex. Definitely should have married his Mom.

I know grown 30 plus men who are still fed by their Moms and Mommy still brings them a glass of milk like she did when the guy was young. Dude, grow up and stop acting like such an overgrown man-kid. Another friend was telling me how her MIL refuses to accept her presence in her son's life and considers her a witch. Whenever my friend visits her MIL in India, the MIL has often tried some tantrik stuff on her. The "saas" hides these beads and strange stuff below the mattresses whenever they are visiting so first thing my friend has to do after a long tiring flight is clean up the room and remove all those strange objects and then only can she relax. Well, will cover MILs in another post.

Coming back to the topic of Mama's boys, women do not mind if guys have a healthy relationship with their Mom. It is only when the son panders to his Mom's every wish, which includes even unreasonable ones, allows the Mom to dictate and gives her that space to intrude in their relationship, and elevates her to an unfair pedestal where she can do no wrong that the problem starts. After all no woman wants to be in a situation where she has to compete with the MIL every step of the way in a relationship.

Lastly, I had to add this bit. My friend's response on her status update to that comment was this: "Personally I dont mind passing my title on to someone else...I would worry if he is a mama's boy." :) Wish all Moms were as generous as this. The world would have been a nicer place for "bahus". :P

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tatkal Scam at Hyderabad RPO - Personal Experience

To the Ministry of External Affairs,

We have been trying to contact you through Speed Post, email and a networking site (Twitter) but since you prefer not to respond to our queries, thought will address all of you here. What I am going to describe is perhaps the most horrifying experience that citizens need to suffer to get a passport, a document I am entitled to in all respect. We have been trying to renew our passports through the Tatkal Scheme via the Hyderabad RPO but thanks to the efficiency of the system, even after a week we are nowhere.

Please explain to us what is the procedure at the Hyderabad RPO and why does it contradict with the information provided on the site. My friends have been asking me why I have not applied online as it seems to be a breeze in their respective cities. I don't know what to tell them. We did exactly what your Passport site tells us to do. We applied online, got an online token and was at the RPO in Hyderabad much before the stipulated time on Monday, 25 April only to find a huge queue for Tatkal applicants. On further enquiry, we found out that online tokens are not accepted in the Hyderabad RPO and people queue up for days to get a manual token.

We were approached by several local touts who claimed that they can get us past the cops into the hallowed precinct of the passport office for 4000 - 8000 rupees per person. Not willing to pay a bribe, we came back empty handed that day. The only other option was to stand in the queue so we went back at 2:00 AM the following night and waited for the passport gate to open at 9:30 AM. There were over 500 people in the queue and the passport office allows anywhere between 75 to 200 people everyday from the queue and the rest have to wait for their turn the next day even if they have to continue waiting for 48 hrs at a stretch. If they leave the queue and go home, they will again be relegated to the back of the queue so it is a hopeless situation. That day the office opened at 9:30 AM as usual for barely an hour and allowed around 50-60 people in before the cops came over at 10:30 smirking and happily telling the waiting crowd that the day's quota is over.

1. Why do I have to stand in a queue for such ridiculous hours in the open to get my own passport renewed?
2. Why are citizens harassed and treated like criminals at the passport office, both by officials and cops?
3. Why can't the passport office employ additional employees to meet the high volume of Tatkal applications?
4. Why should the local passport officer be given so much discretionary power that allows him/her to blatantly create processes that overlooks basic tenets of civilized dignity?
5. Why do they not allot dates so that people don’t have to wait for days for lady luck to strike and get an entry into your esteemed RPO?

Also, the RPO supposedly has to issue 300 tokens a day. However, after a 9 hour wait from 2 AM till 11 AM your office finally opens at 9:30 AM and closes at 10:30 AM allowing around 50-60 people in.

1. What are the number of tokens that should be issued and if the number is 300 tokens, what happens to the remaining tokens?
2. What are the actual working hours of the Hyderabad RPO when applications can be accepted? Is it only one hour?
3. How do you monitor the timings and productivity of the passport officials? Is there a register to keep track of the number of hours they put in and is there a minimum number of applications that they can each individually process?

According to this Times of India report, online tokens were stopped as the passport office website for Hyderabad was hacked into by agents. The article is attached here for your reference:

Now please let us know:
1. Why are agents and bureaucrats being given the chance to misuse the system?
2. Why is nothing being done to stop this nexus between agents and the officials inside?
3. Why should we pay a bribe for a passport that we are entitled to as citizens of this country?
4. In every other city, the Tatkal scheme seems to work. Why is this scheme so difficult for the people of the twin cities?
5. Why are citizens being harassed due to the misuse of the system by agents?

Would really appreciate if you can address this pathetic bureaucratic high handedness and mismanagement.

Another question my friends have been asking is why am I not submitting Tatkal application through e-Seva. Now Ministry of External Affairs, please explain why you do not accept Tatkal applications through e-Seva. Your site says "Tatkal applications must be submitted at the Regional Passport Office only after online registration." If there were more passport offices across Hyderabad or if you started accepting Tatkal applications in e-Seva centres, the load on the Hyderabad RPO would decrease and people would not have to wait for days in the queue. You can have a competent authority at all these centers to evaluate Tatkal applications.

So here are a few suggestions to increase efficiency:
1. Please have more employees in the Hyderabad RPO to process high volume of Tatkal applications.
2. Reintroduce a secure online slot allocation for entry into passport office.
3. Have separate queues for renewals.
4. Increase the application submission window to 4 hours or 1000 applications per day as opposed to whatever is the number now.
5. Open more passport offices across Andhra Pradesh and start accepting Tatkal applications across all e-Seva centres to reduce the load on Hyderabad RPO.

A citizen of India