Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PIO Card Experience

Here is my PIO application process experience. I applied for my kid at New York embassy through Travisa Outsourcing. It was a smooth experience. Including the day I mailed the application, it took 12 business days to receive it. Below is the tracking status udpates provided by Travisa.

12/27/2012 10:21am EST Service order form completed online
01/10/2013 10:06am EST PIO application arrived in the mail at Travisa Outsourcing. Please allow Travisa Outsourcing up to 7 business days before the application status changes. Note that your application will undergo several steps before the status is updated.
01/10/2013 10:15am EST Application assigned for processing
01/11/2013 9:21am EST Order form and supporting documents received, payment processed
01/11/2013 5:15pm EST Documents prepared to go to Embassy.
01/14/2013 8:44am EST Documents dispatched from Travisa Outsourcing Office to Consulate
01/14/2013 2:32pm EST Documents received by Consulate
01/17/2013 2:00pm EST Pending approval of the Government of India
01/18/2013 11:23am EST Outsourcing office has verified the PIO is processed correctly. Waiting for mail courier pick up and is likely to be mailed out tomorrow.
01/18/2013 11:26am EST Passport mailed out. Please note that the tracking information may not be active for up to 1 business day.

The application when through "Pending approval of the Government of India" stage. When I searched the web, I found that most cases took 2+ weeks to get this approval, but thankfully it was approved with in one day in my case.   There are some tips in this blog -

The directions provided by Travisa are pretty thorough except for the below:
1) For the PIO card, they say they need four photographs but don't specify if four includes the two that need to be pasted in the application form. Just to be safe, I sent four in addition to the two on the application and they returned two back to me. So we need to paste two on the application and send two extra.
2) The thumb impressions are required at three different places on each application. One under the photograph and two on the last page of the application.

Getting the thumb impressions of a 2 month old was a challenge. Be prepare to have multiple copies of pages requiring the thumb impression available. The thumb impressions hardly match so dont worry if different impressions come out in different shapes. Make sure the impressions are within the box.

For mailing the package and return label, I created an account on FedEx website and created a shipment and used the "return shipment" option to print mailing and return labels. I used FedEx 2nd Day service. I sent everything in a bubble wrap FedEx envelope and provided the same for return shipment. When creating the return shipment, it is OK to use a date a week from application mailing date. I selected "drop-off at FedEx location" for package drop-off.   Hope this helps. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Veteran's Memorial in Columbus Downtown
A view across the river from Bicentennial Park
A quiet evening in Columbus downtown.
View from Bicentennial Park

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tip2: 3R The Plastic Shopping Bags

This is the most simplest thing you can do to help the environment.

When I was growing up in India, it was a common practice for everybody to use re-usable shopping bags - mostly made of cloth. It has now become common place everywhere for retailers to pack shopped goods in nice plastic shopping bags - the bags serve the purpose of advertising, establishing brand image and providing convenience to customers. Now everybody is used to "not using" re-usable shopping bags.

But remember the adage "OLD is GOLD"? Some old practices are rather golden. These days most retailers are promoting the use of re-usable shopping bags. Where I live, retailers are selling and trying to promote the use of re-usable shopping bags. The bags are cheap (about a dollar) and the one time investment will go a long way in helping reduce the amount of plastic filling the land-fills.

Other ways to reduce the use of plastic bags & re-use them:
1. If you are in the store and buying only one or two items - ask the cashier not to bag the item and hand carry it.
2. If you don't have your re-usable bag with you - ask for a paper bag if you absolutely need a bag.
3. I usually have a couple of extra plastic bags in my car. In case I forget my re-usable bag or my re-usable bag is full, I re-use the plastic bags in my car.
4. It is a common practice for many to re-use the plastic shopping bags as trash can liners.

Recycle used shopping bags:
Do not throw plastic shopping bags in the trash can. Most retailers now accept used plastic bags and recycle them. Check for your local options to recycle used plastic shopping bags.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hooked to "24"

I am a big fan of action and suspense thrillers - who isn't?

One of my friends mentioned the show 24 and I watched the season premiere on the 10th, and now I am hooked to the show. If you haven't watched 24 before, each season is one story unraveling in 24 hours. The season has 24 episodes and each episode shows what happens in one hour of a consecutive 24-hour time period. The main plot is the lead character Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland), a counter-terrorism agent, solving a high profile terrorism plot.

After watching some exciting movies, like The Bourne Series, I always craved for more at the end of the movie and wanted them to last longer. Finally this show is quenching my thirst with a 24-episode long story. It will be an agonizing wait between episodes though. But I can watch the six previous seasons. I just ordered the first season in the local library and it will help me with the wait between the current season's weekly episodes.

If you are a sucker for action and suspense thrillers, you wouldn't want to miss this show.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tip1: Reduce Junk Mail

This tip applies only to US Residents.

US Residents are very familiar with the clutter in their mailbox from credit card companies, insurance agencies, retailers and other service providers with "pre-approved" offers of credit and what not. You can opt-out from receiving these unsolicited mails by filling in an electronic opt-out form at this website - You have choices to opt out for 5 years or permanently for life. The website also provides an option to opt-in in case you want to get those offers again.

This has a two-fold use:
1. You are reducing paper waste
2. You are minimizing the chances of identity theft. Think of all the pre-approved offers ending in the garbage/recycle can only for somebody else to find out your personal information on them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Resolution?

Up until the point I was writing my previous post, I did not have a new year resolution. Every year I make a resolution to exterminate the "procrastination" bug without results and I still am the same old lazy self. So I quit making that same resolution every year. However, I came up with a different resolution this year - to promote the 3Rs "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" - to pass the message around as much as I can. If I can make at least one person to take up the 3Rs I will consider myself successful.

Since I made this resolution public now, I hope I will make an effort to live up to it.

So, if my 3R postings make you think about 3Rs, please do drop a line in the comments section or write to me. If you have suggestions/criticisms, I am open for them as well.

You may write to me at mvsagar(at)