Well at least that is what the commercial tells you, inviting you to visit the “incredible country”.
Well I was trying to do just that. I have had a ten year visa which expired last year, and as I do not have elderly parents anymore that would have required me to rush to that country, I have not bothered to renew it.Having a five or ten year visa is convenient to have a long term visa which allows multiple entries,though the stay is limited to six months, but it saves having to bother getting a fresh one everytime..
This year someone suggested that we should visit Goa,and spend the new year there.
So I duly downloaded all the relevant papers and papers and duly posted it with my money.
Back it came with a request to send photocopies of all the pages of my British passport.
I duly obliged.
Then I had a message left on my mobile (number withheld) , a rather garbled message to say that they wanted my first Indian and British passport.
I had no reference number, no identification and the person left no name! I was left scratching my head, but I looked up the visa website and sent them a message, quoting my passport number and my business in the subject box. And asked if they are going to ring me could the please leave me a name/ number so I could ask what actually it is that they want.
A telephone call duly arrived,and this time there was a mobile number.
I explained that I changed my nationality in 1993, and I have enclosed my old Indian passport, photocopy of all the pages of my current British passport and completed every other form I should have.
Ah,he said; we want the Indian passport you in 1993, and your first British passport.
But I have given you details of my British passport and the photocopy of each page, you have the number and I think the number remains the same throughout for a passport?
Nah,he said we want the actual passport (issued in 1993,and our Indian passport at the time),or else you can not get a visa.
I was lost for words.
He sort of thought about it for a minute and then said’ or you can go to India and get a copy of your old Indian passport from there’.
Errr, I said,there is the little question of having a visa,which you say I can not have without the old passports,to have and to hold!
Well he said you can not have a five year visa without that.
Since then I have heard some other friends who have had trouble getting a visa . An elderly couple who have been married for 60 years or so and the husband had an entry in his passport that he was married to the lady,was told that they have to ‘prove that they are married”.
Someone else who phoned and made an appointment and travelled all the way from the north of the country to London,only to find the consulate was shut,as it was a religious festival on that day.
So India may be incredible, but the service is but anything.
I wonder if anyone else has had any problem getting visas from any other country this tedious and complicated, with stupid regulations and demands? Or is it just my luck?