I feel numb and am struggling to think straight. I’ve had this trip in my sites for around two years now, especially the Kumbh Mela, and we (my wife and I) fly tomorrow at 4 p.m.
But lets go back to mid-December for a minute where I realised it was time to start the visa process. I check my passport. 5 and a half months remaining before I have to get a new one. I check the Indian Embassy Tokyo website and discover that I need at least 6 months (standard procedure).
I call the Embassy.
Me: Is five and a half months sufficient? I’m only going for 2 weeks.
Embassy: No. Not at all. You need 6 months under Indian law.
That evening I check the British Embassy website in Tokyo and discover that unlike in the past, new passports are processed in Hong Kong. Mild panic ensues but I still have plenty of time.
The next day (December 22nd) I get everything organised and posted off to Hong Kong.
I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally on January 15th my new passport arrives. On the 16th I head straight to Immigration in Nagoya to get my Permanent Residency stamp transferred to the new passport and then send everything off for my Indian visa later that day.
On the 17th I get a call from the Embassy saying that British nationals now have to pay more. Oh, and the forms that I downloaded from the website are no longer being used. You need new ones.
Embassy: You have to pay ¥23,000
Me: But the website says it’s ¥9,000 or so.
Embassy: It’s changed for British nationals.
I later find out that the Indian government announced on the 15th that they were nearly doubling the price of visas for British nationals starting on January 16th, the day before my application arrived.
I think better of wasting time arguing and just send the money. Everything arrives Monday morning. Another call from the Embassy.
Embassy: Your forms are filled out wrong.
Me: Why? What’s wrong.
Embassy: You’re permanent address is in Japan.
Me: Yes, that’s right. I live in Japan. I have permanent residency and have lived here since 2001.
Embassy: You need a permanent British address.
Me: But I live in Japan. I’m no longer a U.K. resident.
Embassy: What about your parents? If they live in the U.K. write down their address.
Again, I don’t see any point arguing with Indian bureaucracy and just get on with it. I send it all again and haven’t heard from them since.
The Embassy tell me to include proof of my flight itinerary because it’s now getting pretty close. But they know I need it before Feb. 2nd.
Fast forward to now. This very minute. My wife’s visa (Japanese), which cost ¥2,300 or so took three days and arrived earlier in the week. My friend, Sean Lotman (American) paid ¥12,300 or so and it took seven days.
Mine cost ¥23,000 and after 11 days still hasn’t arrived.
We fly in 25 hours.
I know I could have sent off my application a little earlier but even so, I can’t quite get to grips with the cost and time differences.
And I’m writing this post in a vain attempt to tempt fate and a knock on the door from Japan Post with my passport and visa.
Oh, and this is trip number 6, so it’s not as if they don’t know who I am.
Japan Post didn’t show up so I called the Embassy. The visa will be here tomorrow before 12:00.
4 hours before we fly.
That was VERY close and not recommended. I need a beer.