CrEE-ating An Adventure (and Other Ideas that Make You Go “EEEEE”!)
Have you ever had a fucking brilliant idea? An idea that honest and pure in its simplicity and yet, it brings an element of magic and fun. Well I have had such a moment of clarity in which I decided to explore India.
Oh sure, it was a great idea at first—a downright epiphany, really. That is, until it came to dealing with the Indian Consulate. Five months before traveling, and long after airline tickets were purchased, I did my research for “seamlessly” obtaining the necessary paperwork for our Visas. I asked. I listened. I prepaid for both the Visa application and Fedex to deliver the sacred Visas. That’s when shit hit the fan.
After being assured of the absolute ease of the Visa application, the Consular Office of India said that I should apply as late as one month before our scheduled flights. I decided to test the waters 2 months before. Thank gawd I did!
The application was available on-line. I tried to fill it out over a dozen times without success. Frustrated, it was then that I reached out for advice. I was told flat out that I was too old and slow to complete it in time before the site ‘timed-out’. Thank you so very much for the direct hit to my ego.
Upset, I decided to drive in horrific winter conditions to the Visa office hours away to do this eyeball to eyeball. Upon arrival, there were about 200+ applicants lined up in arctic temperatures. The line moved at a glacial pace. Hours later we reached the front of the line, which was the reception desk. We were informed that we did not have our paperwork in order and were directed to a privately-owned ‘Help Center’ to assist the idiots that didn’t have the mental capacity nor the fortitude to deal with this bureaucratic process. It was obvious, that I was such a person.
The Help Center was a seedy make-shift office. After yet another agonizing wait, we were finally seen. The woman serving us was well accomplished in the art of eye-rolling and heavy sighs. Twenty minutes later, we were told that the main servers for the Indian Consulate were down and that we should try and continue this process the following day. Are you fucking kidding me??? Funny, no one referred to her as old or slow! That dismally ended my 16th attempt.
The following day or on the 17th attempt, we directly entered the ‘Help-Center-for-the-Feeble-Minded’! With the servers up and armed with the documentation, we arrived at the Visa office to find ourselves as the only white faces in a sea of brown folk. We waited in an overheated, poorly ventilated Visa office as over 300 families ahead of us were processed. We were told that the paperwork would be ready within 10 business days. (So what garbage was the Consulate spewing that it took 3-5 business days?) We celebrated the success of the day. Yup, we were thrilled! We had submitted the paperwork, surrendered our National Passports and signed a Letter of Acceptance that effectively exempted ALL blame from the Consular Office should they lose our precious documents! Nice.
About 3 days later, I started to call the Office to see if there was any sign of our Visas. Nothing. I was met with hostility each day but I was relentless and steadfast in my resolve. I wanted those gawd-damn Visas! I became as miserable and hostile as the bureaucrats I was dealing with. There was no way they were not going to come!
A week and a half before leaving for India, a notice came in that the Visas were ready for pick-up. The next step would be to get the Special Entry Visas to visit India’s Maldives in the middle of the Arabian Ocean. Yay! More bureaucracy—stay tuned.
SEEking India’s Island Paradise- next…