So on Friday last week, I made my way to the Indian Embassy. I think I've just about recovered from the experience and now ready to write about it! HAHAHAHA!
It was a really lovely 1-hour train ride out to The Hague, or Den Haag, as it's called in Dutch. If you follow me on Twitter, you would've gotten blow-by-blow accounts of my trip there.
Here's a quick recap...
On the empty train (after rush hour)
Passing through Dutch countryside (with real cows and sheep!)
The tree-lined streets in Den Haag:
My Holy Grail (Thank you, Google Maps!):
So... Remember how I was bitching about consular hours for visa application were only between 10am - 12pm? And blahblahblah... what do these people do the rest of the day, drink coffee all day?!
Well... I take it all back now. I was a complete judgmental twat when I said all of that. If I worked behind the consular desk of the Indian Embassy in The Hague, I would probably become The Incredible Hulk, roaring in anger at all the pushy, idiotic people who are there to apply for visas or renew their passports. There must have been about 100 people crowding the tiny room, with 2 small counters with ONE person sat behind each.
The lady behind the counter was a TRUE YOGI. You could see she was completely frazzled and frayed at the ends a little bit by all the SAME QUESTIONS everyone had for her ("Local Dutch? Apply for your tourist visa through Visumdienst." "...Yes, that's outsourced now." ..."Ma'am, if you read the brochure, you can also see there's another company in Amsterdam you can apply through." ..."No, we. don't. do. tourist. visas. for. dutch. people. here. anymore." ..."JUST. READ. THE. BROCHURE.") At no point did she snap under that kind of pressure from pushy people who were all about the ME! ME! ME!
It didn't seem like there was some kind of system at first - people sitting down/ standing around every which way. You had to elbow your way to get in and then figure out if there was some kind of queueing system. Turns out they've gone "high tech". You take a number from a ticket counter, and watch the digital counter overhead. Even within this "system", there was no system.
There were TWO counters - one with the number "57" on it, and the other with "79" on it. Every time the counter buzzed up to the next one, BOTH counters would click up to the next number.
My ticket said "80" so I thought "BINGO!" I'm next in line.
HA! Fat hope. Apparently there was a glitch in the matrix. Both counters click up at the same time, but really only the counter with "57" on it was the one that was working (You find out by becoming chatty with the people around you). Within the first hour, the counter clicked from 57 to 61. ARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! You know patience is not my virtue... so thank goodness I could play games on my iPhone4. I had 4 scrabble games on the go with friends in Australia and Singapore. Heh.
Long story short: When I got to the counter and explained my story, even the Patient Lady at the counter said "Once you hand in your application, if we need more documents from you, we will call you to let you know, then you can come back with them only AFTER we've contacted you. Please do NOT call us until we've called you. It can take 1 to 2 weeks."
I said "Can't I post the outstanding documents once you've decided what you else you need from me?"
She said (tersely) "No Ma'am, as I said before: You have to come back in person."
That was my cue to just SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN. Move along now lady, while we're all still *nice* to each other.
So I have no idea if what I handed into them is good enough... And the saga continues while we play the waiting game now.
Just so you know, this is what I brought with me:
1. Passport (DUH. She took a copy so I got the passport back. Ain't no way was I gonna leave it there!!)
2. Letter from KPJAYI (confirming that you are a student there and also requesting the Embassy to issue you with either a student visa or a yoga visa).
3. Letter from my office (confirming that I have a fulltime job here - detailing what my company does and what my job function is. This is so India doesn't think you're going there to look for a job.)
4. I had a salary statement with me too, just in case... But... she didn't ask for it, so I didn't hand it over. (Maybe this will be their Part 2 document request from me)
And I paid €33 in cash (No debit-PIN machine there, sorry!) ...This is cheaper than a tourist visa (€50) and also cheaper than a student visa (€99).
So... now I'm really confused what kind of visa this is that I've applied for. On my form - I requested for "yoga visa/ student visa", so let's see what I come back with!
Now... One of my friends currently in Mysore says that people who came on student visas had hassles getting registered with the Police Commissioner .. and some people couldn't even get student visas .. so some people are there on tourist visas. Both seem to work... But for NOW only. Who knows when they'll change the system again and start cracking down if some higher power decides to get a bee in their bonnet about something else again.
It's all so very unsettling, innit? I still have no idea what I'm applying for and whether or not I'll run into even more problems later on arrival in Mysore!
WELCOME TO INDIA!!!
The visa saga continues...
(Hey LiAsh: What's your visa story?) :)
On the bicycle front, my white wicker basket arrived! YAY!!! But I didn't like the elastic ties it came with, and since I discovered a ribbon shop near me, I changed the ribbons on the front.
This place would be Liz's heaven! (top to toe ribbons and curtain-hanging-thingamajigs)
And this is the final look:
People in my office have said "Very Nice!" ...And are also taking bets that she will be stolen again within 3 weeks.