Thursday, January 04, 2007

Visa time

It turns out that the University was closed this week. Went on Tuesday, eager to get back to the math world after a month of lazing around in Paris, but realised this week is still part of the winter break. Walked up to the math office, saw it locked and couldn't see a soul in sight except for one security guard, who looked at me suspiciously. He told me to come back next week.

For the last month, I'd blissfully switched off from thinking about visa and passport formalities. My position (which somehow doesn't seem like it'll ever start) gets over on March 1st and my French visa expires a few days after that. After March 1st, my plan is to head off to South America for 3-4 months. The cricket world cup is in the Caribbean from the middle of March to April, and I want to go watch it till India gets knocked out - I'm not too optimistic about our chances.

I want to fly to Venezuela around March 1st, stay with some friends and travel around for 2 weeks and then take a boat to Trinidad. That's where the Indian team is based for the first round and it's less than an hour by boat from Venezuela. Once I'm there , I'll have to figure out a way to travel between different Caribbean islands following the Indian team till sometime in April. After that I want to head down to the Venezueal rainforests and into the Brazillian jungle and somehow reach Rio by sometime in the second half of May. From there, my plans depend on a lot of things - money, job situation and visas. I'm toying with the idea of applying for a short term position at IMPA in Rio or I might go all the way down to Argentina, travel around for a month and then head back to Europe. With an Indian passport, there are lots of visas which need to be worked out. To make things harder, my passport only has one page left. So I also need to renew my passport.

Since I was sitting at home for the last few days, I started calling up various consulates to figure out what to do. There's a single Caricom visa for all the Caribbean countries for the world cup, but is issued only in London (or a few other places outside Europe). I have to head to London next week to meet some friends and explore possibilities of defecting to the dark side. So, I've got an appointment scheduled for that time. They said it'll take about 2 weeks to issue the visa but agreed to return my passport after the appointment and I'll have to head back there to get it stamped on my passport. The Venezuelan consulate didn't answer the phone, so I'll have to go there in person sometime next week to see what obstacles they'll put up.

Called the Indian consulate and they want some kind of residency permit to renew my passport or get a new booklet. Didn't realise my own consulate would make things harder for me. Till I get a new booklet or a new passport, I can't apply for any new visas. Have to figure out a way to get either a residency permit here (which doesn't seem too likely) or sweet talk them into renewing my passport - or lie.

Sigh....the problems of trying to travel around the world with an Indian passport.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck.

Trying to renew my passport at the london embassy, 4 queues, 3 half day leaves = one more visit reqd to officers cabin; purpose: ask him why it hasnt been done. seeing the mess, belive me dont want to go back to live in India; what a unorganised/unprofessional culture.

bandafbab said...

I don't think the attitude of the consulate reflects a country's attitude at all. The French consulate was very unhelpful and rude, unlike my stay in Paris. Applying for a UK or US visa involved a lot of paperwork and running around inspite of them being "professional". The Moroccan consulate didn't give me a visa and wanted me to come back even though I couldn't see why they should deny me a 2 week holiday.

Anyway, I got an email from the Indian consulate saying it should be ok so things will work out soon.

Anonymous said...

Well you'll see it when you see it. Queued up when i went to collect my passport (which have been unable to do so) then came a shout...literally, to all the people, why are you queuing up? Yes the voice was from the person behind the counter, then people circled up around the small window and he is calling people's name. No mic so a lot of people who were standing behind couldnt hear, it was a complete chaos. May be you have a lot of patience, I somehow was having trouble as taking even a single minute off in my unpredictable office days is unbearable strain to the mind and here i am unable to tell my assistant when i will return back and when i am just going to collect my passport....its beyond me.

bandafbab said...

When I applied for a German visa in Delhi, I had to wait for 5 hours in the sun with temperatures over 45 Celcius, in spite of making an appointment. There were no apologies or explanations from anyone.

The French consulate website in Munich said it issued visas, but when I went there (after a 2 hr train ride) they were closed, and when I went later they said they only issue visas in Frankfurt - unlike what they say on their website. That was a wasted trip.

Stupid bureaucrats in consulates should never be considered as representative of the people or the culture of a particular country. They're unhelpful and rude wherever you go. So far, the Indian consulate hasn't been rude or unhelpful - they just told me the rules.

And, yes, I do have a lot of patience.

Javier said...

Hey Aftab, Happy New Year,

I hate to realize that some things depend on some bureaucrat. Like pretending to love the current government to renew the passport and such.

You can stay at my parent's in CCS. It might not be too convenient, since it is not too accessible with public transport, but you can consider it.

S said...

Way to go, Afty!

bandafbab said...

There you are, Javier. Good to know your offer is still open. I'll send you an email soon once I figure out my visa and tickets. Is Epalechamo back up?

a said...

i emphathize. i am in rome currently trying desperately to renew my stay permit. the italian embassy started a new rule in mid-dec that said that all stay permits could only be issued through the post offices. 1 day after the new rule was announced, all post offices in rome had run out of application forms for the stay permits. 1 month and a hundred phone calls later, i finally have the application form. i repeat, the APPLICATION FORM. Bet my stay permit will come through just as i am leaving the country.

am learning patience the hard way.

i think the italian bureaucracy takes the cake for sheer inefficiency coupled by overwhelming rudeness. a winning combination.

(btw, am ro's cousin A. found my way here through beks' blog).

bandafbab said...

To open a bank account here, I need a birth certificate in French! To get a work permit (even for 2 months), you need a resident permit and the other way round. It's a vicious cycle, but there are ways around it. I find it quite amusing and was quite prepared for it, so it hasn't bothered me at all.

I can imagine how lazy Italian bureaucrats must be.