i got an email from jenni in india on wednesday, from which i quote:
Just wanted to check in and make sure your visa went through okay. Hopefully you applied for one already."
uh... visa? what visa? i don't think i even read the rest of the email. i got on the phone to lee (my travel agent; and she really is my travel agent cause i've known her for 7 years,) and simultaneously got online to look into this. you see, for Laos, cambodia, thailand - vacationers can get visas on arrival. vietnam is an exception and the visa must be requested in advance. so i was really left wondering if india really is one of those countries that requires a visa before departure. well,it is. lee didn't know, i never asked, and i didn't see any advertisements about it on the metro bus as it passed by. so let the anxieties begin.
so my wednesday took on a different focus: i had to blow off 3 appointments, and i found myself chasing all over the internet, the telephone lines, and finally, all over town to get this visa thing figured out. one guy in sf was pretty blunt: "if you need it by next wednesday you better just fly down to san francisco consulate to get it yourself." when i questioned him about fees, he told me i could just look it up on the website, like he was busy watching oprah or something. and then when i accidentally called him twice, he says, "i already told you, nobody can help you here."
if you wanna go thru him his number is 415 837 0771, (travisa.com). i don't like them (not cause they couldn't help, but because the guy seemed to have that silent laughter in his voice as he talked about my situation. also they're about twice as much as going thru india visa outsourcing, the agency the indian consulate recommends.)
so i finally talked to a very nice representative at india outsourcing, and she walked me through the process. but i really decided my day was ruined when i got to the post office and realized i had lost one of my passport photos that i'd just paid 8 bucks for at walgreens. i looked everywhere (even had 2 of the postal workers helping me go through the locked garbage cans). and after about 20 minutes, i did find it: it had blown off behind the free classified newspaper stand outside the post office. i overnighted the envelelope and received a nice email in response with a web tracking capability.
you can track my visa application at: https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/track-passport
if you really are curious, let me know and i will give you my tracking number - right now my status is:
04/02/2008 12:34pm PST India visa application completed online
04/03/2008 3:13pm PST Passport/supporting documents received, payment processed
04/03/2008 3:32pm PST Documents prepared to go to Embassy
04/04/2008 8:50am PST Documents dispatched from Outsourcing Office to Consulate
04/04/2008 9:37am PST Documents received by Consulate
the funny thing is that i usually am a conscientious planner when traveling, so this really threw me.
but the short of it is this: even the nice representative from india outsourcing had to admit, i am not going to india on wednesday. i have been slapped with a week delay (and that aint sitting well with work, since they rescheduled an audit to accommodate my schedule.) i will have to pay a fee too. who knows how much. and india aint gettin any cooler. stay tuned for more fun adventures. this may be more interesting than my actual trip.