Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Veni, Vidi, Visa...

Once in a while people seek our help to get a visa to India. Sometimes it is difficult to ignore such requests because visa-seekers have been referred by senior colleagues or predecessor/s.

We entertained one of our first requests right after we moved here. The man was known to a colleague and needed a medical visa for his wife, an ex-Indian. The man walked into our house with six bottles of Coke and Sprite each. I ignored the bottles thinking it was summer and that he needed to quench his thirst on his way back to Lahore, his hometown.  

He had just given his "interview" to the Bhais and didn't look very comfortable. He briefed his case quickly to my husband and was ready to leave -- minus the bottles. "These are for you sister!" he announced and walked out. 

We were angry -- because we felt so bribed. 

Months later he dropped by again this time with his wife to say his thank-yous. The husband and wife came in with several large plastic carry bags. The wife said I was like her "behan" and that she had shopped for me in India. We were horrified. We told them we could not accept the "gifts". 

"Can't I give something to my sister?" she pleaded teary-eyed. We agreed to keep the "gifts" on the condition that the couple would never "shop" for us again. As we passed the plastic packets to our help we realised that she would not have to shop for soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, detergents etc etc for at least one full year!

Another visa-applicant, known to our predecessor, sent us a Rs 500 note to cover the charges we would have to incur when we couriered his passport back.  

These, however, are simpletons who mean well. The smart ones, usually frequent travellers to India, make those smart calls to meet us requesting us to introduce them to officials in the high commission and once the introductions have been made they look through us. A colourful fashion designer of some repute had no memory of me when I bumped into him at a recent dinner.  

And then there are those who remain friends till the time their visas are being granted -- once, twice... However, if their visa applications are rejected on some ground at a later date they not only snap ties but also make sure we get to hear an earful.


  1. As long as they aren't any trouble for you later, take it as 'naiki ker durya may dal' :)


    P.S. "Never" trust a hip fashion freak.

  2. Glad to see you writing/posting with a vengeance!

  3. Anon, okay won't :)

    Ambika, :)

  4. I don't understand how you can possibly expedite their visa as visa's are subject to Govt. of India rules and regulations, so it would seem silly to ask anyone to do anything as they can't (or not supposed to be able to - which is a different matter altogether then!)