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.