This is preparation for actually being in India – this thought simmered through my head, only quelled by a few powerful jabs to our helpless sofa pillow. But really, there was little else I could think of to do after another frustrating email from the company supposed to be helping me get my India visa. To be fair, the Indian consulate’s laws have become stricter on account of terrorist attacks, but after talking with several friends, there appear to be several loopholes in the scheme that said company won’t let me go through. After extracting tons of personal information from both of us via a very long online form, they informed Chris that they need copies of our birth certificates as well as state licenses. Fine. The next day, visa wallah Chris gamely goes back with the goods, only to be informed that because my state ID is from California, they’ll need proof of my residence in New York. He is ok because his ID is from New Hampshire, which is “in the same jurisdiction.” I’m getting fed up at this point. The only reason why I went with this company was because I got a visa from them two years ago and they were helpful, kind and convenient to get to from my office. They have since moved offices and become decidedly less helpful in the process. “Stapler, tape, monitor, all packed. Willingness to help customers? Eh, we’ll leave that here.”
I called the company and asked if a credit card statement would do to prove my residential address as all of our utilities are under Chris’ name. He said yes. I asked if there was anything else in the application that they could see as a problem – he took a long look and said, “oh wait, your pictures have a blue background. Yeah – that’s not going to work.” Mind you, these are the exact photographs I used not two years ago to obtain the same visa. I told him to move forward with processing and if the problem is the blue background, to call me.
This morning, I received an email saying the credit card statement won’t do, and the blue background is a problem. I ask if there is anything else I can provide them with to prove my address, he says no – he has to process it through their California office. This is unbelievable. Surely there are scores of people applying for tourist visas to India in New York who do not live in New York. This is a visa that you can get in one day if you pay more – is it one day for people who happen to have tons of paperwork on themselves at hand? Who knows. All I know is the Indian consulate has enough information on me to steal my identity and buy a house in my name, but apparently not enough to visit their country.
I Googled “BS visa applications” and the first return was a string on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree about the vagaries of getting an Indian visa: hwww.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1441735. So I know I’m not alone in this, and to sooth my soul smashed to smithereens by Shiva’s cohorts in the visa game, we’re having ratatouille. The same dish that ameliorated Anton Ego’s skinned knee will reinvigorate the desire in me to press on, take new passport photos and decide whether or not to try to get a visa through the much nicer company – who told me on the phone that in lieu of a birth certificate, I can provide my college diploma. Because your college diploma is like a utility bill.