I’m sure it’ll be nostalgic…
I know, when I look back on my adventures at the local Indian consular office a few weeks from now, it will be with a nostalgic warmth. I say that because, I’m sure all these wacky shenanigans will do me wonders to prepare for the inevitable madness that awaits on the subcontinent. I imagine I will be slightly disappointed if all goes terribly smoothly…
The saga continued at precisely 12:40pm on Tuesday (Monday was Thanksgiving Day up here), when I sat across from my friend Geoff’s desk and swore up and down that what I’d written in the Affidavit was in no way wishy-washy…and, in fact, absolutely true. The Exhibits alone were a feast for the eyes and included, in no particular order: copies of my citizenship card, scan of my mother’s long ago cancelled passport, a welcome to the Province from the Hon. Grace McCarthy & Premier Bill Bennett, a copy of a “landing” form which celebrated the fine day that we arrived in Canada, etc…. Between the drafting of the document & the running around to find the exhibits, I kissed good-bye to at least 3 hours of my life that I will never have the pleasure of seeing again – but…all for a good cause…right?
At around 1:30, having walked at a brisk pace the 6 blocks from Geoff’s office to the brown edifice that houses the Indian consular services offices, I breathlessly presented my fine collection of documents – application, passport & affidavit – to my smiling Sikh friend at the front desk. “Ahh”, said he, “welcome back Sir!”. Now brimming with confidence, I informed him that I had the various and sundry documents he’d asked for and pointed to the pile laid out in front of him. Passing a knowing eye across them, he pointed to the Affidavit and asked “what is this for?”. Umm…well…I reminded him of our previous discussion regarding naturalized citizens (this while he was thumbing through the exhibits). “Ahh”, he said for a second time in about 20 seconds, “this is the thing that is needed”, aiming that long, skinny finger of his at “Exhbit B” (the scan of my mother’s passport with the word “Cancelled” on it). “The rest does not need to be bothered with – we can just tear that out”. “What!”, said I, “you asked for an affidavit, and I’m taking no chances – the whole pile is coming to the counter with me!” “OK, sir…whatever you like…”, was the smiley response.
After more comedy while waiting for my number to come up (the friendly Sikh suggesting I go up 5 places before I was due to even though earlier numbers were being called), I finally got to speak with an equally friendly woman at the counter. “What have your brought this for?” was her response when confronted by the Affidavit. I explained my earlier Sikh & confuse encounter to which she said “Oh yes…then you need the affidavit”…then, 5 seconds later “Oh no..this is all we need”, pointing to the now famous Exhibit “B”. Whereupon, she ripped the Exhibit away from its rejected colleagues, returned the rest of the Affidavit to me, and smiled…pleasantly… and asked for $150.
It’s not a huge number, but since Brita only paid $80’ish, I was a bit non-plussed! There was another “Ahh”, after which she explained that I, being born in India, couldn’t get a mere tourist visa (even if I only wanted to go for the equivalent 6 months) so a “multiple-entry” visa for that period would cost $150. She agreed that it was an odd state of affairs where foreign-born people could visit the country for half the price…but “what to do?”. Turns out that a 1 year visa was only $50 more so, being an optimistic sort on whether this offspring production venture will succeed (meaning a return trip next August), I shelled out for the extra.
My tribute to the lovingly created, but rejected, affidavit:
Brita has already, via the shockingly efficient online tracking system, found that her visa is ready to be picked up (notwithstanding the estimated 10-14 business days required). I can only hope that we Indian-born types do not have to pay more AND wait longer….or it will be touch and go whether it arrives before I have to leave!
Enough about the song and dance, Brita’s now finished her project for the Credit Union and can now get excited about leaving at the end of the month. The first stop for us (after a few fitful hours sleep at an airport hotel in Kuala Lumpur) is 3 nights of R&R at a small resort island called Langkawi, off the west coast of Malaysia. We’ve booked at the Berajaya Resort – looks gorgeous and a great deal! More about this later, but for now, here’s a great pic that I’ve shamelessly lifted from the hotel’s website (notwithstanding their stern copyright warnings)…but I’m sure they won’t mind given that I’m not only paying to stay there but promoting them for free!