A Passage to India

The news from the Rock is not good. As an attempt to create even more unemployment the Spanish government  has obstructed border crossings from Gibraltar. Now motorists have to wait up to five hours and  there is talk of a punitive £43 tax on all those crossing the border.

But Spain is not the only country which makes you wait at the border and  forces you to pay extra. I have just spent the best part of a day wrestling as only  Milton could ,with the intricacies of an on line visa application to the country we so proudly called the jewel of the Empire. The Indian visa application could easily become a board game for insomniacs.

First there are the hilarious question s about where your mother and father were born. Both long since dead, how can I find out? Then there is the obsession about whether my grandparents had anything to do with  Pakistan and or did they change nationality. Should I tell that in 1947 my great uncle was CinC of their army? I don’t think so,. Then they want to know how many countries I have visited in the last ten years. I put down a few, will they check, is this what  all these spy leaks are about, the US satellites know where I have been, will they share the information with the Indians?

So I fill in the form. It says fine but my name is not down as Thompson. F***. So I decide to fill it in again. Hours pass in anger and bitter frustration, hot tears of despair cascade down my sun burnt cheeks. Its done, Oh Sh**. I put down my trip was starting in August not September. Third time round I am going blind, I will start begging on the streets, my piece of card board will  say  “Blinded by Hindu bureaucracy”. I finish ,its done.

Now  I have to try and make an appointment taking ,my filled in form,photo and wallet to a visa wallah.. Something is wrong with the system. They wont let me make an appointment. Ten times I try. Ten times they send me back to Go. Daylight falters ,the evening descends, while others frequent the bars , talk to strange women and start new and exciting lives, I am stuck  trying to get a visa to a country where  cows shit in the main street and 40 per cent are illiterate.

I do, as all the best quiz shows allow, phone a friend. He says try again. I try but the will if not to live.at ;east to travel is fast disappearing. I would rather be  stuck in a traffic jam  at the Gibraltar crossing. I am told you can go to   specialist “visa consultant”. I phone one up,Waseem Aslam. His office is near the Marie Stopes,where I had my snip by Warren Street. What a gent, great Celtic tattoos , a fine pair of shorts and he  knows how to turn a crisis into a bus stop.

He charges £42, a quid less than the Spanish government. Globalisation? You know it makes sense.

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3 Responses to A Passage to India

  1. Rosanna says:

    Love it Hugh. We have to put it into perspective….you will have a much more interesting time in India than you will with a load of sun loving old Brits in Gibraltar!

  2. charlotte good says:

    Yes, Hugh … agree with Rosanna. But imagine if you were trying to get the visa to the UK in India … this London experience would pale. If you came to Wilton Road to do it, do hope you brightened your visit by indulging in a little something at Pimlico Fresh, opposite towards the traffic lights … Pim’s BEST cafe, best coffee, cakes, salads and juices.
    PS : Try getting Visa for Myanmar – literally 2 minutes, no queue and very polite and welcoming staff in W1. Sizeable cheque, of course!X

  3. Bad I know. I had the misfortune to have to get indian visa from sri lanka. Me and 300 locals attempting the same. Two days! Treated like an illegal immigrant I was!! Then attempted to retrieve my passport from piles of hundreds of other work seeking wretched.

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