Went to the Indian consulate 3 days ago to get a birth certificate. In order to open a bank account and get paid while here, it's necessary to have birth certificate in French. There's also a weird cycle where you can't get a work permit till you have a bank account and vice versa but there's a way around it. It's something the Dept here has dealt with for years.
The Indian consulate was very, very crowded. This was the first time I'd ever been to an Indian consulate for some work and it was interesting to note that 90% of the crowd consisted of French citizens applying for visas to India. There was a long queue and I made the mistake of standing in it initially. Then, an official came by and said "All Indian nationals proceed directly to window 1". I just smiled at all those standing and walked in.
It was a bit chaotic inside but I realised that a similar scene in a Govt Office in India would have been normal, and the officials seemed unperturbed. The main problem seemed to be that the space inside wasn't big enough to allow so many visa applicants. Most of the French visa seekers didn't know that they were supposed to carry proper documentation. One of them showed up with just her passport, and had no idea that a return ticket, a bank statement, proof of employment and a current address were necessary. Seeing a few of them get turned away for lack of proper documentation gave me a perverse pleasure.
Went back later in the evening to pick it up and there was an even longer queue of people waiting to collect their visas. Again, I went directly to the other counter and noticed a few glares for making my way through the crowded waiting room. One poor Indian guy was having problems as his passport hadn't been renewed and he had a flight to catch in 2 days. He made the mistake one should never make in a consulate - he lost his cool and started shouting. That pissed off the consular officer and he was told to come back later even though he had a flight to catch. I almost felt like giving him some advice but decided to stay out of it.
Leaving for London today and will apply for a CARICOM visa at the Barbados High Commission on Monday. Let's see how that goes. But after 4 months of being in non-English speaking countries, I can't wait to be back in a place where I can understand and read things without having to make an effort.