Let me preface this by saying:
20 days until Malta
35 days until England
41 days until Kenya
I’ve now reached the stage where I have to start following up on my list of practical things that need to be done before I leave. One of those is sorting out my Indian visa. You may think it’s a little soon for me to be getting that done considering I won’t actually get there until the first week of December, but I was actually smart and did my research on this one…
Quoting the Indian Embassy’s website: “It may be noted that all visas are valid from the date of issue and not from the date of arrival in India.” When I first read this last month, my initial reaction was: FUCK! The standard visa here is issued for three months, which would mean that it would expire by the time I get to India. Their website states to contact them by email, which I did, giving a full explanation of my situation. I have to say, they were incredibly prompt in their response – something you don’t usually expect when you have to rely on email. The gist of the email was that I would either have to stay somewhere long enough to apply for a visa before I go to India (that would mean staying in Cape Town for a few weeks) or else re-schedule my trip for another time. Eek! After a bit of back and forth, I asked if it would be possible to apply for an extended (six months) visa before I leave Ireland, which would cover my two months in India. In reply they advised me that this should be fine.
And that’s how I found myself sat in a small library at the Indian Embassy at 9:15 in the morning. I didn’t really expect the place to be huge but I certainly thought there would be more than five chairs, a tatty carpet and three bookcases in the (library-cum-) visa application department. As I walked in a man sat behind a little window in the wall pointed at the clock and said, “nine thirty,” with what I took to be a frown of disapproval at my having come early. Funnily enough, he sat there for the next 15 minutes pointing out the time to any newcomers until the clock indicated 9:30am, at which point he nodded to the room and slid the glass pane to the side. I expected an orderly queue to establish itself but the joke was on me because apparently queues don’t exist at the Indian Embassy. Is this a sign of things to come? Quite possibly. Luckily for me I lived in Malta for 16 years, where the elusive queue is as mythical as a minotaur. I’m pretty good at sidling my way in and holding my ground as a result.
The man behind the counter looked over my documents pretty quickly, issued me with a receipt and that was that. He didn’t seem too interested in the fact that I was requesting a six-month visa so I hope there are no issues with it. The last thing I want is to turn up on collection day and find they have issued a three-month visa which would be absolutely useless to me. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!
I didn’t find much information about applying for an Indian visa in Dublin when I first had a look so this is for anyone out there who needs to go through the process:
- Get there early. I’m told that they will turn you away at 12:30 on the dot, regardless of how long you have been waiting.
- Have all your documents together and make sure your passport photo is glued onto the visa application or you’ll be sent to the bank of the ‘queue’ again. Good luck with that.
- Payment is by postal order or bank draft only. It specifies this on the website in super tiny writing.
- Remember that the visa is valid from date of issue not arrival.
At some point during the two weeks while I was waiting for my visa to be approved, the Indian Embassy’s website was updated. Tourist visas are now valid for 6 months by default. The website now also states to call for an appointment to apply/pick up your visa, however when I went to pick up my own, the man at the counter was still claiming that visas are to be picked up between 16:00 and 17:00 so I’d say nothing has changed. Contact the embassy beforehand to be on the safe side.