Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Renewing Indian passport at Indian embassy in Bern, Switzerland

Note: My experience is now posted on website Desiforum.ch
My passport was due to expire in less than an year, so I thought to renew it early in order to avoid last minute hurdles with travel and VISA. Since I am currently living in Switzerland, Indian embassy at Bern was the only option for me.

Indian embassy in Bern has a quite interesting website http://www.indembassybern.ch which lists details about the process, although in a bit tedious way. It has all the information you need, but in a form that perplexes you and makes you feel a bit cautious. Fortunately all went well with my process and I got my passport re-issued in 4 weeks. Here are the important details about the process I followed:-

Application process: The recommended application process is to fill online application at http://passport.gov.in/nri/ and take an appointment at the embassy for the scheduled date. If you are sending your application through post, off course an appointment is not needed. You can also send the application in prescribed forms E.A. (P)-2; however, filling form online actually helps to get your detail correctly into the system without going through a manual data entry process and thus increasing risk of getting error. Filling form online actually is pretty simple. If you realized that even after careful entries, you made a mistake in form, you can simply discard your form and start with a fresh form. Your Switzerland address should also be mentioned in the "other address" field so that a person may contact you locally. Taking an appointment actually gets the appointment date printed on application form as well, so it just helps in case the person refuses to entertain you when you reach there.

Fees: The fees for the application should preferably be deposited into a UBS bank for the given Indian embassy account. You can choose any UBS bank in Switzerland to deposit money (especially near to your home if you are sending application by post). But you have to deposit it personally in order to get a signed receipt from the cashier. Online payment confirmation would probably not hold good in the eyes of staff.

There is a little confusing statement in website regarding fees for renewal of passport. Table at http://www.indembassybern.ch/mrp_version28072010.html says that fees for renewing passport is 73 CHF while in another row, it reads that Extension / Renewal of validity of passport is Free.
The second statement doesnt apply to final expiry of passport, so if your passport is expiring after 10 years of validity, you will receive a new passport and your fees would be 73 CHF

Personal appearance: Many of the online discussion at www.englishforum.ch tells you that it is not necessary to go to embassy personally. I however felt that being there personally and talking to a real person is much better than getting returned envelop or wondering what happened wrong with your application. After having gone through the entire process, I think its worth being personally there, if there are some major changes in your passport such as change of address, adding name of wife in passport etc. e.g, there was a change of address in my passport and I wrote the new address in application. I however, forgot to bring a proof of new address with me. While at the embassy, the staff person asked me if I am carrying any other proof of address and luckily I had my Indian driving license with me. He gladly accepted it and made a copy of it. Since it was a mistake by my part, which thankfully got corrected on time, I felt that being there was really worth the ticket to Bern. Besides, Bern is a nice place to be, at least worth a day's trip.

Self addressed envelop: Please provide a self addressed and stamped envelop (preferably registered) which can hold two passports with your application. Your new passport will be printed in India and would be sent to embassy in Bern. Bern staff would then cancel your existing passport, put it along with your new passport and send it to you in this envelop.

Experience: So after all the preparations and making copies of each and every document, I went to Bern and reached embassy right on time. Staff was courteous enough and asked me to wait at reception while the concerned person comes. After 15 minute of wait, the officer responsible for the passport came out and checked my documents. He pointed out that I didn't had any proof of new address which luckily was immediately given as I was carrying my Indian driving license. Since I was also adding name of my wife on the passport, he checked our marriage certificate which was duly endorsed already by ministry of external affairs. He then told us that everything is in order, and since there is a change of address, there might be slight delay for verification and clearance from Jaipur(which is my home town).

I was done in approx 30 minutes in total and happily came back with a pleasant feeling. After this, it was a long wait of 4 weeks after I received my new and old passport in my mailbox through Swiss Post. The new passport had a new passport number and was issued at Bern.

Overall I would say that my experience was quite positive. There is always a room of improvement, but the dealing was much much better than my last interaction with passport services at Bangalore. I had to take a Police Clearance Certificate for Swiss VISA from RPO Bangalore and entire process was horrendous and torturous. It was as if me and my wife were declared guilty and criminal by default and we had to fight our way through police stations and RPO office to prove it otherwise.

I congratulate the embassy staff at Bern for doing a good job and hope that their website would become much efficient and streamlined in the process.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to change language setting of Canon Print dialog box

Well, this has been quite annoying so far. I just purchased a brand new canon MG5250 multifunction printer and default installer didn't even ask me for language I would like to choose. Here is a small guilt admission; I am in Switzerland and I dont speak yet any of the official Swiss language i.e. German or French or Italian yet. But unfortunately, the probability of finding people like me was considered as little as of a Meteorite hitting earth in 2012 by Canon SW designers, who steadfastly assumed that if the printer is being installed in Swiss German speaking area, it must be in German :-) Wunderbar!

Well, finally I found that there is a fast way to change the language setting of the printer dialog box apart from reinstalling and messing up your Windows settings. I believe this would be applicable for most of the Canon products as well. So here it goes....

Just open the print dialog menu; and browse till the last tab (Called Maintenence in English) and press "About" button. Depending upon your current language of installation, the text would vary but I am sure you would be able to reach till right buttons.

As soon as the About Us dialog opens, you see a language button. Bingo! Here it is.

Just select the language you want and press OK and close the printer settings completely. Next time you open it, it would be into your preferred language.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Congress: An incovenient truth
So far so much for Modi bashism! By continuously demonizing Modi as a merchant of death, Congress aspires to achieve a higher moral ground. Unfortunately the memory of nation is so weak that we fail to recognize Congress's own contribution to communal violence and mass murders.
Whatever happened at Gujarat is indeed condemnable and deplorable to every extent but the congress party should have the least right to take any political advantage of this, as their own track record in perpetrating communal violence has been much impressive.

Just a quick glance through Congress's own track record of Communal violence:

1947 Indian partition:

Thanks to the ambition and a great vision of Nehru, and despite being ensured by Gandhi that partition will be over my dead body, the great Indian subcontinent was divided. It resulted in the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children, gifiting two young nations permanent rivalry for ages to come. Countless lives have been lost in country because of permanent hatred, terrorism and many more will be lost in future. Who hold the responsibility of putting this great nation into such a mess for the generations to come?

1969 Ahmedabad riots:
Communal riots between Hindus and Muslims erupted in Ahmedabad in 1969. Atleast 1000 people had died during this riot. At the time there was a dispute over the leadership of the Congress party between Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai. There were suggestions that violence was deliberately engineered to discredit the chief minister of Gujarat who was a supporter of Mr Desai.

1984 sikh riots:
The assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 sparked riots that lasted 15 days. Several inquiry panels later, eight people were convicted. The politicians and police got away. Chaos reigned on the streets and locality after locality in the capital echoed with the shrieks of the dying and burning people. A fortnight of carnage saw over 2,700 dead and many thousands injured.
Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister at a Boat Club rally 19-days after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, said “Some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.”

So the question is, does Congress has even a fibre of moral right to accuse Modi of being merchant of Death when they themselves have been Industry of Death?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life in Europe

As the clock is ticking, the time to return back home is coming nearer. I feel like sharing my experience of being in Germany which has indeed been quite important in my life. In a series of few blogs, I would try to summarize my opinion and insight about the people; I have been living with since last 2 years. I am a little bit amazed; to see how quickly these two years have passed. In a nutshell, these can be claimed as the most calm and soothing years of my life, yet full of happenings and packed of action on daily basis. I feel like I had just arrived in Germany few months back, when the world cup 2006 just started. It seems like a co-incidence that I am packing my bags exactly when the next major event in football, i.e. european championship is going on with full swing. Football seems to be like opening and closing ceremony of my stay here :-)
I have lived a completely different life here, something which gave me enough time to understand world, and even more importantly, myself. If you ask me what happened to me in these last two years, I would say nothing important, really. Rather shocking is the fact that even for most of friends and colleagues back in India, things have not yet changed so much. On even stranger note, everybody is just now seems to be gearing up to get married, change job, build house etc. It feels like as if time in India had been waiting for me !

My experience in Germany and Europe has been quite diverse, yet very repetitive in nature. I visited almost all popular destinations of Europe, except UK and portugal. To my surprise and rather a bit of disappointment, as I continued my journey, I felt more and more of commonness rather than difference in people and culture across this continent. Thanks to a rich Roman heritage, I hardly feel any difference in buildings and architecture when I browse through my gigabytes of photo collection. Most of the time I can’t recall which building belongs to which place. And about people, well its impossible to tell who belongs from where, unless they show a very specific pattern in their style and characteristics i.e. hair color, build, dressing senses.
Despite being so harmonious in culture, Europeans retain their acute vividness in terms of language, people’s thinking and their social interaction in life. I would rather like to classify people by their region, instead of their nationality. After historic implementation of European Union agreement, Europe has now having very fragile boundary between countries and mostly you don’t notice when you cross a country while travelling; unless you really see the signboards and equipped enough to differentiate between Dutch and Danish and Deutsch! So friends, here I present the first of these blogs, which is about the country I like so much… i.e. who else other than meine Leibe Deutschland, Germany ...... Lets talk about the Good Germans !

The good Germans

I would like to name this starting blog after one of the not so popular, yet very important movie which hollywood has ever produced for Germany. So far, hollywood director's favourite theme about Germany has always been the second world war. Perhaps they are always eager to cast a blond German speaking evil guy, who looks more like a machine than a man, as their main villains in world war related movies. Mostly, these movies always end up showing how bad Germans had been, and how stupidly arrogant they were to loose wars after wars despite their obvious strengths. I am not trying to be a judge of historical facts here, so I cant comment about what happened wrong and what was right. But from my opinion, audience around the world would always like to see their own national hero fighting against an imposed war from a bad foreign guy and finally win the game despite all the odds.

Germans, sadly, have always been at the fore front of bearing this projected hatred, as far as the world war II is concerned....

Wouldnt that be interesting to know that where this entire civilzation of cold hearted warm blooded dumb soldiers, who dont know anything except to follow the orders of their superiors to shoot and kill, has disappeared in recent Germany? Has this nation changed so much during last 60 years that all of such species of people are virtually vanished from their own soil, dear to them as their holy Fatherland? Where has this strong Germanism gone which had causes so much fear and hatred around the world; that all of the world's major powers came togather to defeat a single country and its not so important allies? Has that evil Germany along with its barbaric Germans been completely swiped away from the face of the earth?

I think not..

As far as I believe, it never existed even before...

I believe the Germans were only as bad, as at some time, the Britishers or French had been. Germans were the last civilization of the modern world to wake up and stretch their muscles, to claim their own pie of colonizations. English, Spanish, Portugese, French, all of them had been equally cruel and fanatic when they expanded on their journey to capitalize the whole world. Germans probably were sleeping at that time. But when the woke up, much of the world had already been looted up by these great and greedy naval powers. Had Germans been quicker to start 50 years back, modern world could have witnessed a completley different political power map. But unluckily, till the time they realized it, the world of colonization was already at its fall, and the so called great Nations of the world were very very afraid, that they might not get tossed away from the same evil, that they had created centuries ago. They came togather to fight a single nation and its not so confident allies, and the rest as they say was...

The history....

Coming back to this movie, those who have seen this, probably might have felt how the Germany was crushed to its knees after the world war was over. Those who havent yet seen it, would probably like to know that this movie revolves around the post worldwar Germany, in Berlin, where everybody was interested in taking out what little has been left with poor war-torned and ashamed nation. The story revolves around a American journalist, George Clooney who is somehow related with the wife of a poor German Rocket Scientist. The Russians and Americans are very interested to find this scientist to develop their own Missile programs. In his short role, our spiderman Toby Maguire potrays a typical German chap who is confused and doesnt know what to do with what the War has brought to his country...

Overall, a touching movie, but probably not so entertaining....

Germans, as other europeans, are as human as anybody could had been. They have been as sympathetic, tolerant, peace loving and dedicated as most of the other civilized nations. In fact it is pretty interesting to see that during my trip across Europe, I found Germans always to be more civilized and organised than any other country. Yes, you feel a typical coldness in their behaviour, yet they have the most of the human quality which anyone could expect in a nation.

Otherwise what could have justified the immense productivity of a small country like Germany, which makes it Number 1 exporter of the world, even as of now, surpassing USA, China and Japan. How could a small nation, reduced to almost rubbles, has become so much powerful in 60 years that it still produce worlds finest and costliest machinery, chemical and heavy industries ?
Isnt it fascinating how they did it, while even after 60 years if independence, we are still struggling to adjust our fiscal deficits and curb inflation ?

The things I like most about the Germany are also the things which people hate most about it. Germans are very mechanical, practical, sometimes too much immersed in what they do, and feeling too responsible for what they do. The sense of duty is followed very strictly, and still Germans treat their parents and ancestors as their role models. The country has a very solid foundation which was built by a dedicated and hardworking generation, and which would continue to propel the growth of the country for coming years.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A new day has come !

Just today, I completed 25 full circles around the Sun, along with the mother Earth..
And so I grew perhaps much mature, much experienced and much wiser...At least this is what people said in their wishes..And I am now looking inside myself.. Did I?
Did I grew much mature? Did I understood the new lessons of life quite well? Did I live upto the expectations of my friends, family..n parents? Did I grew up in something which I was supposed to be? Or is that had been yet another year of existence without a goal or motive?
I look back.. and I think .. and I ponder upon it..

Why do we celebrate our Birhdays? What is so good about completing a full calendar year, which is not so good, when we complete a full calendar month or day of our life? Why everybody comes and wishes me a wonderful new year ahead, year after year, while nobody wishes me a beautiful day the very next morning? Whats so good about an year, which is not so good about 6 months, or 10 years, lets say? An year I think is neither long enough nor short enough span of time.. But anything can happen in even a fraction of a second ...So whats so special about these 365.25 days ? (write your comments plz if you can think of a nice reason :-)

Whatever might have caused our ancestors to choose this time gap to celebrate a Birthday, I am sure about at least one thing..This is certainly meant to be a day to spend with your own self ..Time to be what you are.. Because what I understand is people, in this very race of life, are running so fast that they care about everything, except their own self.. And by this own self, I did'nt mean this body..offcourse many of us take care of it very well..but what I am talking about is the real self, which is hidden inside the layers of flesh, and which is what you actually are..and without which, you are nothing but a non-recyclable un-disposable trash...Do we take good care of that? Do we know that does it really need ?

People might say I am a happy man/women.. I dont have worries in my life except a few.. I dont have tensions in my life except some very little topics. I am always happy, and enjoying myself.. I am good to people, and people are also good to me... Then why do I need to worry about this little crap called soul ? What purpose would that serve ? I appologize but such an existence is corrupted by an overdose of happiness, and engrossed by thick layers of pleasure of senses.. and thats why we often find people complaining..."You see Akash..I have always been good to others.. I have always been truthful to people.. I never did anything wrong to anyone even in my dreams...Then why God did this to me ?" Well... If you think I am being insensitive, irrational and too much critical about those people, dont worry...
Friends, I am writing about none else other than myself here..
Because just like that Alice in the wonderland, I had been living in such a fairy world, where everything seems to be almost perfect..I had everything I wanted in my life, except very few.. and that made me complacent.. I became ignorant.. It started solidifying...And then at last, nature sent a cruel blow for me ..which shattered the castle of the wonderland into mere pieces..and I felt like a gloomy asteroid crashing into the vast desert of real world..and someone came and smiled over me..

Welcome to the real world Neo !

And today I realize what was the reason...The Golden rule always says, everything changes.. To change and evolve is the nature of everything...And if you dont follow this very nature, nature will remove you from the ladder of evolution..Every shape which doesnt fit into this mould of evolution, is discarded and melted again to get casted once back..And so this gigantic furnace of evoltion keeps on blowing, emitting fumes, and producing better and better products, known as living beings..And for me, this day called B'day, which basically reminds us of our manufacturing date, and a warns about the incoming expiry, is a day to reflect upon my condition, ask myself few questions, and to gather the answer for none else other than myself.. It iss a day when I try to be what I wanna be..and thanks for the lovely people all around, who never forget to remind me about it every year..

It had been something special today.. Not just another common day of life...And as I finish this blog, Winamp started playing the beautiful song from Celine Dion..

A new day has come...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We don't know what we are looking for.. Do we ?

Many time in life I have felt a strangest pain inside my heart. A huge void, wanting to be fulfilled by something which I don’t know. I started filling it up with anything I could find. I used all my happiness... It went all in vain.. I used my tears, they couldn’t even soak it up. This undefined, unmanaged pain grew like anything till the time I slept under the shadows of meditating tree… And then it subdued for a while.. But promised to come back again… and soon…

And this phenomenon, I found in many other people.. In some or other way. Everyone suffers from this never ending vacuum coming every now and then. There are many times in everyone's life, when one seeks the true meaning of his life, his relations, his expectations and try to retrospect the way he has been living so far. This is a time, when we realize importance of some relationship, vagueness of some other ones. Some try to cover this vacuum by pretending(?) to be happy with friends all around. Some try to forget it in liquor, whims and fantasies and fool their own senses… But I am sure.. Everyone of us has got it.. Little or more…That’s why everybody seems to be searching for the happiness… Isn't it ?

While this inherent motivation to seek a source of happiness is as true as the source of the sorrow, or this vacuum, one may wonder why these things exists in our life in such a form. Why do we feel devoid of something..and entire life we spent in just a hope to find this thing back.. Why this game of loose and win and then loose again is played over and over.. Was God a fool to create this world with so much imperfection and then allow us to correct it ? Why weren't all of us equally happy, equally content and satisfied with each one's life and never try to interfere with each other, making this world a perfect heaven ?

Spiritual wisdom gives us the answer that world is imbalanced because it was supposed to evolve. Things don’t evolve when they are balanced. Its true, also in chemistry, where two radicals don’t interact if they are inert. Only active and oppositely charged radicals attract each other and try to become stable.. And more stable…until they find the perfect equilibrium. In the similar way, spiritual teaching compare the strong will power of God and Soul to meet with each other, causing all the activities of the world…

Coming back to the topic of seeking happiness once again, It seems that our goal of happiness is itself a mirage. Once we find our most sought source of happiness, we immediately start looking for the next. We never find contentment in the things which we were looking for, but still we keep looking. As one philosopher has truly said, "All that is achieved, has to be lost so that you can achieve the next thing." So we end up in an endless loop, looking for something, which we think will make us happy… Finding it.. Keeping it by side..and then again aspiring for the next… Wouldn’t it be worthy to say that we never know what we are looking for ? Or do we know it but just not yet ready to accept it, realize it?