after a visit to the Indian consulate last Monday!

Gee, I’m writing this Sunday night and I’m still not over the experience!

I wonder if I’m suffering a form of PTSD–and I mean no disrespect to those who actually have it. I’m just being a bit facetious.

I have a bunch of elderly people in my acquaintance and I find the older they get, the less they can take any sort of kink in their schedules.

They literally get anxious when they have to face up to a new unknown challenge.

And the weird thing is, I felt every bit as anxious when I was heading down to the consul general of India last Monday.

I’d checked out all the requirements I needed on their website.

Originally I’d gone to this organization that handles visas for them, but because I was born in Pakistan I couldn’t just use the organization to get my visa, I had to go down to the consul general in person.

One of the required documents was this downloaded form from their website that officials from my publisher had to fill out and get stamped by certain authorities in India.

They were supposed to scan it, once it was appropriately stamped in triplicate and email it back to me so I could print it out and take it down with me.

Took about a week to get it filled out, and then they told me that it would be better for me to take the original documents with me down to the consul general, so I waited for them to actually courier it to me.

I wonder how much it cost to courier those documents all the way from India! Didn’t get them till Sept. 13th, a Friday! Decided to go down the Monday the 16th.

Got to the consul general and they had a sort of metal detector, the kind you see in airport security that you had to walk through.

Fine. I walked through.

And then there was a clerk checking the documents I’d brought. He looked at my Canadian passport and told me that I needed an affidavit notarized by a public notary saying that I didn’t have Pakistani citizenship or a Pakistani passport.

I asked why that wasn’t on the website that I needed that??? He just shrugged and handed me a form and told me there was a place across the road but since it was downtown it would be expensive.

Ended up costing $35! And took about an hour!

Went back to the same clerk and showed him all my documents and then he says I need a photocopy of my Canadian passport!

Geez! I was ready to scream!

He said I could go down to the postoffice on the main floor and get a copy.

The website said to bring a money order for $132.40 and they couldn’t photocopy my darn passport in that amount???

Never mind! So I went down stairs once again to get the photocopy. Cost $.25!

Went back to the same clerk and he tells me to go through to ‘room #1. There was a line up.

Stand there for about fifteen minutes, and the line’s not getting any shorter.


And then the lady behind me, part of a young couple, asks if I’m from Pakistan, she noticed the affidavit and we get to talking. And we get to talking. I tell them I’m worried about all the rape stories coming out of India and the gent in front says, “Oh that’s always been happening. Just now they’re reporting on it.” And the lady says, “No, it’s safe in India.”

And it turns out the gent in front is worried because he just wants to ask the clerk if he can pick up something right away because he’s supposed to come back at 3 pm but he has to pick up his kids from school at that time, so he doesn’t want to irritate the clerk in any way.

While talking, I ask the same gent in front if he goes to India often. He says, “Whenever I get the feeling of going to India I come down to this office and deal with these hassles and the feeling goes away!”

That made us all laugh.

Then wouldn’t you know it, these three light-skinned bimbo ladies (not white–one spoke Hindi) come waltzing up to us and one of them says, “Oh you don’t mind if we just go in to drop off some cheques do you?” And before the gent in front can say anything they giggle, “Thanks!” And waltz on by.

The gent grumbles, “You know they’re going to sit down!”

And sure enough all three of them don’t just drop off anything, except themselves into the chair and they start talking to the clerk.

I was SO mad!

And the gent said, “Welcome to India! It’s because they’re light-skinned, they can get away with it.”

And I said, “Why would anyone ever want to go to India!?”

And told both of them that–even with the Taj Mahal– it was never on my list of places to visit.

And even though it’s an incredibly honor to be invited to the Bookaroo festival, I mean it’s not a place I’d make an effort to go to. The only reason I’m going is to launch this book.

And when the bimbos came out they giggled, “Sorry about that!”

But I was in no mood to let them off that easy. I said, “You know you shouldn’t be cutting the line like that. It’s not nice!”

And the two of them pretended not to hear me.

And then finally the third one came out and did the same thing!


The gent in front said, “You’re going to get me in trouble. If the clerk sees, and he liked them, he might decide, ‘That’s it, I’m going for lunch. Be back tomorrow.'”

Arbitrarily just like that!

Finally I get my turn, and the clerk says, “Why did they call this a conference? It’s a festival? Why didn’t the organizers get this clearance. They were supposed to…blah blah blah.”

And he writes in green ink all over the application.

I think they only do that to be difficult.

At the end of it he says it’ll be 4-6 weeks to get my visa.


Oh, and I didn’t even need that form my publisher worked so hard to fill out, have stamped and courier to me!!!


Got home and my hubby said, “Welcome to India!” And said it would be so much worse once I get there!