Visas, Hotels and Bureaucracy

“Sir.  There is a problem with your visa and you must vacate the hotel immediately.”

We’d already taken a shower, unpacked our clothes for the wedding reception and were trying to relax and watch some mindless TV.  I tried to reason with him.  “I thought the situation was clear.  I have the required papers showing my visa extension is under consideration and I went and got papers for my fiancée.  Our stay was approved.”

The attendant was unmoved.  “I’m sorry, sir.  You must vacate immediately.”

I resisted the urge to slam the door in his face or shout obscenities, despite my overflowing exasperation.  It wouldn’t do any good to get angry.  After nearly a full day of running around Thiruvananthapuram trying simply to get a room for the night, it was finally time to give up.  Bureaucracy had beaten us.

…read more at The NRI…

India: A Foreigner’s First Impression

My initial arrival in India was apparently much like everyone else’s.  Two in the morning – or should that be night? You can never be quite sure in Delhi.  Hot and dusty as all my friends in Japan had said when I told them I was going to India.  First experience of an Indian ‘Q’ at an exchange counter; somehow fought my way out with some cherished rupees.  Through the near-absent customs check – keep up now, we’re all in a hurry – and into the maelstrom which, fortunately for me, had at its centre a 20-something guy holding my name on a discoloured piece of A4.  Whisked away without a word into a beaten-up blue van and off into the night.  India smells different from anywhere I’ve been before, I thought.  Driver and his pal got me to the hotel but became angry when I only tipped them Rs. 20.  I trusted no-one, not even the albino gecko on Hotel Vivek’s lobby wall, until I was locked away in my room and could put my head down on a pillow and…


…read more at The NRI…