Phoren Travel Phrustrations
Today was the appointment at the German Consulate in Mumbai. And I thought I was more or less prepared with the Visa form filled up, photocopies of the ticket, insurance everything. I land at 9.00 am. No problem, I think, my appointment is at 9.30 am. Park the bike … make my way to Hoechst House 8th Floor, Visa Section. It turns out, the appointment, is not really an appointment. I mean, the appointees do not get to see the appointers at the said time. You just take a token, with a number on it…and wait…wait…wait…as the bunch of people who haven’t read instructions on the website…keep finding out their mistakes and arguing and finally leaving in a huff. One guy even argues about something to the point that the counter lady calls “Security” on the public address system. Man, you should know when to take a hint and leave.
So anyhow…finally this chap comes and says “Tokens 40-45, to the 10th Floor please”. The counter upstairs has only asked for 5 individuals. Tokens are allotted for individuals and groups. The guy on the 8th floor says “5 tokens”. The next moment 20 people are heading upstairs.
The security fellow upstairs gets upset. Keeps bitching about how this is the Consul-General’s office and there cannot be any crowding here.
A certain Mr.Gupta….who was feeling rather good about himself…stirs up a little ruckus. But it’s easily subsided with conversation remaining civil (people haven’t waited THAT long yet.)
So anyhow…I wait until my turn… (I’m no.41). Lady at the counter is co-operative. I am thinking it’s just 7 days…they’re inviting me. It shouldn’t be a problem. But as I have realized, that, is the bane of all visa applicants. Everyone thinks “I don’t have a problem”. Visa Officers, on the other hand, are hand picked for their talent to find problems with the most perfect of applications.
So anyway, even though the letter mentions I get paid for accommodation and travel. She says you’d be carrying cash, so I need I.T returns and get them faxed. I am like…ok, whatever you say (charming smile, too late to have a hassle-free experience, but on time to make her feel bad about making me run around.)
So I go get the faxes that are faxes of photocopies…with nothing other then black quibbles on the paper. I present it to her just in time, while a Ph.D from TIFR Basudeb is finishing up. He recognizes me from Orkut. And we exchange pleasantries. Well, whaddaya know…this Orkut thing is working in more ways then one.
So anyway, he is off the counter and I give my documents to the visa lady again. Takes one look at the faxes, and says “Good..Collect your passport on Monday”.
Now upto now, I thought I was having a pretty inconvenient day, but as I found out in the evening, Basudeb has been spending a lot more time hanging around the consulate then I have and has interesting experiences to share…which has detailed on his blog
So anyway, after running a small errand in Vile Parle, I was back home. Supposed to read 22 papers provided by TIFR’s Dr. L. C Padhy for his test tomorrow. Don’t think that is happening soon…