Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Say Cheese!

The past month and a half of my life has been focused solely on getting six of the seven Smith kids back in school. Six of seven days of the week were filled with it. There was paperwork, school visits, extra math lessons, paperwork, extra handwriting practice, doctor visits, paperwork, clothing and supply shopping, placement tests and, say it with me, more paperwork. Don't get me wrong, I am used to doing every form of paperwork in multiples, but this has tested my mettle. Today's discussion will not, however, be about the actual filling out of every form ever. Today I would like to discuss an obsession that has India tightly in it's grasp. It is the menace known as...The Passport Photo!

Doesn't sound too scary you say? Fool, I say. Picture this, you are new to the country and you walk into one of several mobile phone stores in your new town's large market place. You are planning to buy a mobile (never say "cell phone", nobody will know what you are talking about) so that you can be connected to the strange world around you. It seems easy enough. Things are going well until the shopkeeper asks for your passport photos. What? You panic a little. No one told you that you would need one, is it a scam? (New comers are always suspicious.) Luckily, you remember you have one in your wallet, leftover from your passport and visa applications, so you hand it over. Whew, that was easy. Until your bank asks for one, then the Residents Welfare Association in your neighborhood wants one, your employer needs three, the appliance sales guy takes another, the dentist and the doctor each demand their due, your children's new school wants three just for the application and before you know it there are hundreds of little thumb sized photos of you and your loved ones floating around the country!

The photos required to enroll our children in school nearly pushed me over the edge. (Watch the running total.) We had to hand in five photos of the child (5), one of Mr. Smith and one of me (7) with every application (42). Then, days before school actually started, twelve more of Mr. Smith (54), Number One Son (66) and I (78), plus two more of each child (90), for ID cards. Are we done? No way! On the first day of school, Almanacs were sent home with each student. These serve as a sort of appointment book for the year and the daily source of communication between parent and teacher. Each book requires two more pictures of the student (102), their parents (126) and their older brother who might pick them up from school at some point in the future (138). Are you catching a glimpse of the mania?

This evening when Mr. Smith gets home from a long day at work, guess where we are going? To get new photos taken, of course! The well has run dry and we wouldn't want to be caught without.

  • Item - Admittance to school for six children
  • Cost - 138 passport photos
  • Item - Knowing my kids are being educated plus a couple of quiet hours to read and write blog posts
  • Cost - Priceless