Monday, February 14, 2011

The Indian Consulate of Confusion.

One would think, baahar ki hawa (foreign soil and air) would help the Indian government get rid of its asinine ways. Not so. My husband has been trying to understand the visa application process for almost a week now. Every day I hear him say let me start afresh and every day I hear his frustrations loud and clear. It should be easy to get a visa to one's home land or so one would suppose. As this seems akin to a non-earthly task, I might as well set up a system of prayers solely geared for seeking help in getting a visa from the Indian Consulate. Perhaps a special god for visa could be identified. Maybe some bells and prashad would come in handy or better still the Gandhian fast could work once agin. It worked beautifully to free the country; surely one Consulate could collapse under its magic.

There are a million forms for de-coding one's identity before one can even dream of applying for a visa. Embedded in the land of confusion are various ideas and suggestions like if you are a person of Indian origin, use form A; if you are the third descendent of Indian origin, use form 505 (A); if you are of Indian origin and want to visit India numerable times within 15 years, use form 6006 (T); use form 6006 (TN) if you want to visit innumerable times and to contact RAW or IRS; if you are of Indian origin and reside in the US and want to visit India for pleasure, use form 15,001 (Z), use form 15,000 (ZN) for non-pleasure and contact the Indian Embassy directly; if you are of Indian origin and do not reside in the US, use form 420; if you want to visit India and have US citizenship, use form 521 for renouncing your Indian citizenship; if you have already filled form 3 and are an Indian of Indian origin, please submit birth certificates of father, grandfather, and great grandfather - complete with 'good name' and 'good name of village'; if you have dual citizenship of US and India, use form 420 (D) for renouncing US citizenship; use form 420 (D-420) for renouncing both Indian and US citizenship and do not seek a visa; if you want to permanently visit India, use form A (1); use any form to get out; do not use any form to contact the Consulate. 

While the sifting through the Indian visa process goes on, I get on the phone to ask friends how they did it. I feel a spirit of exhilaration but that is quickly quashed because the forms the friends had filled have all been changed. Rules have been changed, fees have been hiked, phones have been permanently disconnected and the on-line process has been morphed drastically to accommodate or rather confound the weak, weary, and feeble of heart. The web site doesn't warn that the entire application form (or forms) has to be filled out in one shot or may take up to a year to fill out. There is no concept of saving. Use it or lose it. As far as the Indian Consulate is concerned, their people are here on a vacation and to hell with the Indian visa seekers or seekers of any kind. They can go elsewhere maybe try the British Consulate or the Khazakstan one. From the way things are, I hear the refrain of the Indian Consulate 'baad main aana' (come back later) loud and clear, everywhere. 

My husband has given himself three months to figure out the mystery/confusion/manic temperament of the Indian Consulate. He also has to figure out the stringent army like times of operation of the Consulate's elevators between 1500 hours and 1600 hours, and mode of payment of fees with directions of no cash, no check, no credit cards accepted! I'm left floundering as to what exactly would be acceptable to the Consulate! To make matters simple, why doesn't the Indian Consulate just go ahead and inscribe in gold the motto  'abandon hope all ye who come here'. It certainly is the house of misery.