Friday, August 5, 2011

Returned from the land of Shalom Alechem, directly into a Seinfeld episode!

I wish I had had my camera with me this morning so that I could have documented this hilarious experience. A video of what I am about to describe would have really been a treat to replay when we return from our 82 day trip to India ...

... I heard Marc rustling around at 3:00 am. Jet lag – don't you love it? He explained that he was going to pack for his kayaking trip, which begins, tomorrow. Great idea, since he was up and so was I, so we together went through the packing list and had it all pretty much organized by 6:00. We thought about going back to bed, but I thought, I would get an early start, and prepare for my trip to the India visa office which opened at 8:00 am.

I had printed the forms out prior to our trip to Eastern Europe, and filled out my form. I had just to go through Marc's form, have him sign and print out the photos (that Devora took of us), which I meticulously sized to the specifications on the form. I had reviewed the check list twice and was feeling quite smug, that I was crossing yet one more item off my to do list.

Before printing the photos, I thought I would size the ones for the Israeli passport that we need to renew and while I was at it, make copies for eventual visas for Nepal and Vietnam. So I left a bit later than expected and arrived at the visa office at 8:30. As I got out of the elevator on the 6th floor, I was a bit unnerved, not seeing a line out the door of applicants, but I heard friendly voices on the other side of the door, so I turned the knob and walked in.

A very friendly gentleman with a full beard and a turban greeted me. The room was empty accept for one young man waiting to be served. "Apply for a visa?" he asked (or I think that is what he asked) in a very soft and comforting tone. "Yes", I said smiling. He motioned to the envelope in my hand, and I graciously, handed him the forms for review. Marc's forms were on top with the carefully trimmed photo glued in the appropriate spot. A quick glance at our forms, and his expression changed from one of friendly greeting to one of deep sadness. shaking his head slowly back and forth, with his head leaning to one side he said almost in a whisper, "ohhh noooo".

I assumed he was trying to tell me that I couldn't apply for Marc, so I removed Marc's forms to reveal my photo on my form. His expression changed momentarily to positive anticipation, but when he saw my forms, the head shaking continued and he whispered again, "ohhh noooo...". "You see", he continued patiently, you must submit online. I was really confused at this point. I tried to explain that I had printed the forms from the website and filled them in. "So sorry, you see, the policy has changed". More head shaking and then he motioned to the young man sitting in the empty reception room. The young man came forward and showed me his forms that had been filled out online full of bar codes and other things unfamiliar to me.

A completely different form – completely different photo size.

"but I printed this form from your website(!)" I said, knowing that it was a futile argument.  More head shaking, "This is old form" He said again with deep sadness. "It changed very recently". More head shaking, arms in the air.

How recently you ask? As soon as I was back home, I looked it up and if you can believe it, the policy changed on August 1st! Get used to it, I told myself shaking my head back and forth. Welcome to India!

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