Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Other than India"

I got my visa to Bangladesh today. It was rather painful. I think the heat here, unseasonably warm for February, is affecting my memory, because I got into a cab for the Consulate without my passport. We were almost there, when I asked to be taken back. I found where I was meant to go, Counter 4, the "Other than India" counter. Of course being from the US, I qualify.

There was a crowd even there, and a delay in just getting the form I needed to fill out. Then I was told that I also needed a photocopy of the Indian Visa in my passport, which was annoying but easily remedied at the "Xerox" shop down the street.

I could not fill out the entire form, as I did not know what type of Visa I needed, and for some reason I did not notice the signature line at the bottom. When I went back up to the window, the woman behind it told me I needed a "Single" visa (as in single entry), and showed me where I needed to sign. I had a pen in my jeans pocket, as my t-shirt was pocketless. The woman next to me kindly offered me her pen, and I took it.

Somehow she offered it with the tip up, and it must have been a relatively fine ball-point, as when I reflexively "clicked" it to open it it up, it drove into my thumb. There was not a lot of blood, though some of it got on my Visa application form, which was interesting ... I have never signed anything with blood before. Unfortunately some rather distressing thoughts about germs began circulating through my head. I chased them off by recalling that all of my vacinations are up to date, and it was a relatively clean pen, and so on.

I began to think I was doing a pretty good job of just relaxing and waiting at the window, as I had been asked to do. As the woman sat at her desk behind the window preparing the receipt for my passport and 5000 rupees (about $120, not a cheap visa) I apparently began relaxing too well, as the next thing I recall is lying on the floor surrounded by worried Indians, at least one of whom was splashing my face with water. I was actually a bit disappointed to come to, as the Bangladeshi High Consulate was a rather less pleasant place to be than the one I had just been visiting.

Anyway. It was suggested that I wait there, and my visa would be ready within an hour, which was a better deal than coming back at 5:00. In any case I could not leave, since at 11:30 they close the windows, and lock the doors. Not that everyone has left when the doors are locked, there are some folks still in line, and we were all locked in together. I joked with some of the other folks there that we had been kidnapped. Actually the correct term is "unlawful imprisonment" I think. Probably also a violation of the fire code.

In any case today I also booked my flight to Dhaka for tomorrow, and visited the Museum here, which combines Natural history with archaeology and art and some other things I had no time to get to.


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