Thursday, September 02, 2010

Immigration Office

Had a bit of an off day today. Last night the well documented Indian food revenge hit me and so I didn't have the greatest night sleep. Then I had to up early to accompany Madame Vin to the immigration office. Finally all our papers were in order. I have to say I've done absolutely nothing to assist in the putting together of all these documents apart from sitting in a photo booth, doing some photocopying and asking the hotel reception to write us a letter to say we're staying with them. Madame Vin has done all the running around, phoning, re-phoning, re-re-phoning, emailing, shouting, screaming, pulling out of hair, re-emailing etc etc to get all of them together. A process that should have taken a week, like everything in India, has actually taken four weeks. She's brilliant is Madame Vin.

So we handed over our documents to one man, he asked to go to another room up the hall, we went there and someone took our forms and showed them to an important woman who sat at a table on her own. He returned and asked us to do 'something'. We asked him again (his English was poor, my Tamil non-existent), he pointed outside. We went outside, still none the wiser. We returned and asked again and finally worked out he wanted us to photocopy the documents, which fortunately we had already done.

Our copies in place we were then given two plastic disks with numbers on and told to go back to the room we were in originally. We sat in front of four booths with a number system for the queue. It was on number 50 we were numbers 68 and 69. We shuffled and shifted in the hot room, on the most uncomfortable chairs ever designed, to the front of the queue. Numbers 64, 65, 66 and 67 didn't exist so two hours later we make it to the front. The official took the papers, applied a stamp, wrote something incomprehensible on a scrap of paper (took the cheques, naturally) all without smiling.

All of this was done in a sort of Gilliam-esque busy bureaucratic environment with stewards running hither and thither, signs pointing in the wrong direction, stamps slapping bits of papers and general disagreement. Fans spin and move hot air around the room, everyone is tense, the officers are bored and no one seems to know what is going on. I'm sure there was order, but I couldn't see it for all the confusion.

After all that we have to go back on the 13th September to collect the final documents.

Can't wait.

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