traveling solo

December 26, 2012

I do not recommend my local Indian Embassy. Not to anyone. Never mind to a solo woman. But that is how I experienced it today. Again, I do not recommend it. That said, the experience did provide a good story . . .
First factor to take into consideration is traffic. A distance that should take 10 minutes often takes an hour. So since I was already quite nervous about the trip, the long journey through traffic made me feel a bit travel-weary already by the time we made it to the embassy.
Once there, I learned that the car would not be allowed onto the road so I stepped out to begin the walk. Living a life in which I am never permitted to walk alone–anywhere–even this short several-block trek was a bit of a shock to my system. I also lengthened the walk inadvertently by missing the correct barricade the first time through and having to backtrack a bit once I had figured out my error.
FInding the right entrance, I walked up and attempted to walk through the gate. Nothing doing. I was thoroughly reprimanded [I presume, that is, considering the language barrier]. One thing I quickly did realize was that I was not supposed to go in with my bag. What? I thought. Leave my phone and identification in some random spot while I went into unknown spot for an unknown length of time? Absolutely not! I tried hanging onto my bag and indicating that this was not possible. It did not work. They then handed my paperwork to fill out, which I did in a rushed, fumbling manner by the side of the road. As I did so, I noticed that a line of people were waiting, holding these papers, on the opposite side; I realized that I must have circumvented the proper channels somehow, but did not really have the gumption to figure out how to start over, so stayed put an tried to hand the guards my papers. They were clearly not going to give up on the bag issue, so I figured I’d better try to find some way to cooperate. I turned back and walked around, pretty frustrated by now and worried that I might have to just give up and call it a wasted trip. At this point a man came over and asked if he could help me. I do know better than to talk to strangers. Especially strange men. Especially when I am on my own. But I noticed that he was holding a stack of application papers labeled “Medecins sans frontiers.” I figured that if he was actually associated with Doctors without Borders I could probably trust him. He showed me a side shop where I could rent a cubby to store my bag [and yes, give up my phone!], looked over my application papers and fixed my errors, and then he walked me through the maze of checkpoints and queues. Anyone familiar with international hassles will know what this experience was like, so I will fast forward a bit.
Eventually, I made it to the desk I needed to reach. I submitted my paperwork in a reasonably official manner. But I am, in one sense, no farther forward than when I began. According to the man assisting me, my application will most likely be denied. For an odd reason. He noticed the figure in the salary box and asked me about it. I verified it was true, and he guffawed a bit. “They will not grant you a work visa, you know. Why would you take a job without a proper salary? It will not be accepted.”
So that’s where I stand. I will find out eventually whether he is right, but by that point I am supposed to be in another country. So logistical details consume me know. Should I change travel plans on the off chance that I do in fact get a visa? Should I assume I will not? If I am denied, should I keep trying?
I do not know what to do right now. But what I do know is that I was so very relieved to be able to talk with people who have become like family to me about the process when I came home. And that I was so very comforted to be back in my home, no matter how temporary of a home it may be by this point. It is a room of my own. A room with a view.

One Response to “traveling solo”

  1. Tucker said

    So many prayers ascending for you and so many thoughts abound for you and so much love coming your way.! Keep updates flowing as much as possible !! XO T

    Sent from my iPhone

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