Yoga rant: Applying for an Indian visa is making me homicidal

At the risk of having our Indian visa applications “delayed” — that seems to be the threat for any misstep in the process — let me just say:

Trying to apply for a tourist visa to India makes the DMV / credit card / health insurance industries feel like ’60s love-ins.

I can’t help but think of Douglas Adams’ take on British bureaucracy in the Hitchhiker’s Guide and wonder if this is some horrible vestige of British colonialism. Or perhaps revenge for that colonialism.

The fact that the visa process has been outsourced to some private company seems the final, cruel twist of irony.

My simple question is: Why is this so hard?

My longer form questions and reactions for whoever or whatever is behind the online application process are:

  • How many times do you need to know my nationality? And whether it was by birth. Are you expecting me to trip up and admit I’m actually Chinese?* Or worse?
  • The worse: Yes, I do understand why you’re asking if I have any Pakistani ties.
  • A sewage bill? Seriously, a sewage bill can help prove I live where I say I do? I don’t recall the last time I had a sewage bill. We barely have water bills at this point. Why not add an Internet / cable bill to the mix? That’s a more basic utility these days.
  • The photo uploading process for the passport photo and signature makes me triple homicidal. That was the point I called Bobbie and told her we weren’t going to India.
  • You want to know my religion. This feels, too, like a trick. Will things go easier if I pick the right one?
  • Why do I have to figure out how many months are in five years? Why can’t I apply for a 5-year visa and not a 60-month one?
  • On the upside, I was happy to be able to describe myself as a “business man.” On the other hand, there were about three or four variations on “journalist”, which made me extremely suspect.
  • Right now I don’t have any visible identification marks. But what happens if something horrible happens between now and December? (Knock wood.)
  • What’s with the payment options? How many fees can you tack on? Are you Ticketmaster?
  • What’s the obsession with photo copies? And who on your end sets the price if you have to do it?
  • Do you really think the videos and other descriptions are helpful? (OK, the video is maybe the most helpful thing.)

We are delayed right now in this process, by the way, as we figure out how to get all the confirmation documents — that sewage bill — to prove we live where we say we live. This is why we have begun six or so months early.

Posted by Steve

* Note: My father traveled to India in 1980 and faced some entry and exit hassles, as well as some others during his trip. This despite being on a fairly high-level engineering conference trip. The reason? Seemingly a collective, but understandable dyslexia that rendered Cahn as Chan in many authorities’ eyes.

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

8 thoughts on “Yoga rant: Applying for an Indian visa is making me homicidal”

  1. Hey Steve,
    I feel your pain. I also just recently got an Indian visa in preparation for my trip to Mysore that is probably not going to happen now (see my blog for the gory details…).

    About the sewage bill thing… read the instructions again. I’m pretty sure it says “photocopy of driver’s license OR sewage/utility bill.” At any rate, I only sent them the photocopy of my driver’s license (less of a pain in the a%% than having to photocopy an entire sewage/utility bill), and they approved my application, no problem. Unless, of course, the rules are somehow different here for US citizens as opposed to non-US citizens. But I doubt it: If anything, they should have more to fear from a Chinese guy who is not a US citizen than from a white guy who is one (I’m assuming that’s what you are…).

    In any case, if applying for an Indian visa makes you homicidal, try going through the process of applying for a visa interview with a US Consulate outside the U.S. (which you, being a US citizen, will fortunately never have to endure…). I won’t go into the details here, but suffice to say that it makes applying for an Indian visa feel like a walk in the park.

    Good luck with your visa application. I’m sure you will get it.

    1. We are the victims of our own laziness. We haven’t changed our driver’s licenses to match our (sorta) new home. And both are up later this year, meaning… we don’t want to do the DMV twice in 2012.

      Yeah, I saw the possibly not-happening Mysore trip. Guru (and trip?) comes when the student is ready?

      OK, that sounds like empty platitude. How about just: Sorry!


      1. “Guru (and trip?) comes when the student is ready?”

        Maybe this just means that I am not yet ready. Fair enough. I accept that 🙂

  2. Just applied for our Indian Visa, we live in Bangkok. I don’t need a sewage bill here, but everything else is the same. When we filled out the nationality part and said we were Canadian, our only religion choice was Christian. What’s up with that?

  3. defied all odds to be in USA from India… now need to defy gravity of indian consular sites to just visit India on visa…can;t say enough how much I agree..with the post…”freakin frestratating !!!”

  4. Simply put India needs to understand that someone traveling from first world with better economy is not going to stay over and take your jobs. I do very well in west. If you don’t want my tourist dollars there are lots of other countries who will welcome me. So think hard and don’t give people hard time.

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