stay i n d e p e n d e n t

A Passage to India

This is the first in a series of travel related essays from our new contributor H.xx, as she restlessly manages her downtime from a career which calls upon her to travel relentlessly with some of the most famous rockstars in the world.

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by H.xx, for outsideleft.com
originally published: February, 2007
I have a copy of the Evening Standard explaining the power outage in the West End in my bag as I'm sure the Indian Immigration people will think I made the Visa myself at home and try and send me straight back again
by H.xx, for outsideleft.com
originally published: February, 2007
I have a copy of the Evening Standard explaining the power outage in the West End in my bag as I'm sure the Indian Immigration people will think I made the Visa myself at home and try and send me straight back again

What a day. I got back to London from LAX yesterday afternoon.  I was up at 5am (jetlag!) and by 7.30am I was in a queue of around 200 people at the Indian Embassy... After an hour people started leaving as word filtered down the line that there would be no visas issued today, as a power cut was effecting the whole Holburn area and consequently India House had no power...
 
I was slightly in shock as I had a flight booked for the same evening, so I just waited around for another hour with around 100 other people. Finally the High Commissioner came out and said it was impossible to issue anything as they had no power. He was standing on the statue of Ghandi at the time. I lent forward and asked what about people traveling today... He looked me in the eye and said we should come back at four in the afternoon and MAYBE if the power was on they would be able to issue a visa.
 
I went home, packed hastily (and very badly)... I think I have two pairs of shorts, two sarongs, three tops, two pairs of flip flops and a bikini... hoping there are some knickers in there as well! Then had to go to Halfords to get some 'special engine grease for old motorbikes' to take over there.
 
When I returned to the embassy around 3pm, the power in the Holborn area was still down. I started to think it would be truly ironic if I got knocked down by a bus as all the traffic lights were out as well! I went for a wander around Covent Garden for a while, had some food and  then went back to a desolate Indian Embassy at 4pm, to find one person I had recognized from this morning. I asked if he had his visa yet, he told me I had to go around to the front entrance and keep banging on the door until they let me in! So without further ado I did just that, I banged and banged and banged and someone eventually came to the door, shook his head from side to side as only Indian men can and said they were closed.
 
I waved my ticket at him and said I HAD to get a visa today! He could see from my jet lagged eyes I wasn't a woman to mess with and opened the door immediately.  The place was in total darkness apart from the odd candle scattered around, and I was asked to sit down and wait. As I was waiting I thought to myself that I had finally made it to India... I was indeed on Indian soil and if they refused my request for a visa I would just stay there and sleep for the night.
 
After asking where my proof of birth was, as he didn't believe I was Irish (new Passport) I showed him a full to bursting British one as well and he finally scuttled off to a higher floor and came back very speedily with the very first entry in my Irish Passport, it was hand written and signed by the Indian High Commisioner himself.
 
So finally I am now at Heathrow AGAIN, upgraded myself to Upper Class - because I'm worth it and am chomping on sushi as we speak.
 
I have a copy of the Evening Standard explaining the power outage in the West End in my bag as I'm sure the Indian Immigration people will think I made the Visa myself at home and try and send me straight back again.
 
Welcome to India....I haven't even got onto the plane yet!

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