It used to take forever to get a visa to go to India. I would have to take the train to Chicago and go to the consulate, wait around for hours for someone, anyone, to talk to me. Then after filling the application form, the man in charge would tell me, “ok, come back tomorrow at 4 pm.” How could I do that? My train back to Quincy would leave at 5.45 pm , and I had a return ticket to get on it the same day.
I would tell him,”Please can you process the visa today itself, because I have come by train, traveling 300 miles. I need to return tonight itself. I have office hours tomorrow and I cannot stay overnight in Chicago”.
He would glare at me for the inconvenience I was putting him through. There was disgust on his face. After five or six minutes of pretending to be very busy, he would tell me, “if you want it today itself, there would be additional charge of $50.” I knew very well, that that amount would go in his own pockets, but I had to agree. Then he would tell me to return to the visa office at 2 in the afternoon. And I would finally get it, the original fee for the visa of $60, and the extra $50 that he expected, and was paid before he handed the visa to me along with my passport.
This was far better than when the visas were issued out of New York offices. We would request the application form first, and after receiving them, and sending them by express mail, we would just wait and wait and wait some more. So many times I had to call the embassy in DC. No one picks the phone up in these places. We would finally get the visa weeks later.
This happened every single time I traveled to India. My country, my birth place. The men who worked in the consulate, extended their corruption on to this land. It was pitiful.
But now, there is a difference. Applying on line, for an e-tourist visa was a breeze. I applied for it yesterday, and I received it by email this morning, even though I was told that it might take about 72 hours; and that would have been okay too. But, now I have it in my hand, and secure within the pages of my passport.
I think this is the first time that has happened. Apparently the new Prime Minister, Modi, has eased travel for Indians who live abroad.
I am hoping to leave for the wedding on the 10th of August, and will return perhaps by the 24th or the 25th. I had thought that I would stop over in London for a couple or three days on my return; but M thinks that perhaps we could both travel later and go on a vacation to London and Ireland. We’ll see about that. So, it is just to India this time, and I am going by myself.
Today is our 48th wedding anniversary. Not bad for an arranged marriage, eh? No, we didn’t do anything special. He wanted to take me to a fancy restaurant here, and being Ramadan, I just didn’t feel like going out. So we just had a simple meal at home.
Have a great evening and a wonderful weekend.