Getting an Indian Visa

14:24 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

I had spoke to several people and read a few forums and the process of getting a visa for India seemed unduly tricky. After careful consultation of all the advice, I decided it would be best to hand in my completed application by hand. I really don't trust the Royal Mail.

The closest application centre to me is in Levenshulme in Manchester. If you don't know Levenshulme don't fret, you're not missing much. I stepped off the train to find litter blowing in the streets, an unusually hot sun and shops which only sold fruit, vegetables and mobile phones. I felt like the acclimatisation to India had begun already.

I walked up Stockport Road to try and find the visa offices. Behind a patch of derelict land, in the Jain Community Centre, I found the place. I had arrived early because I was expecting queues, but I was the only person waiting. After a while alone in the waiting room, a man walked in carrying a desk. He plonked it in the middle of the room, sat down and straightened up his handwritten sign which read "Security Only".

Oh. Dear.

Just as my subconscious was questioning if I was in the right place, the 'security guard' called me over to check my forms. He spoke in an alarmingly Mancunian accent. As he leafed through my application he casually pointed out that I had filled in the very first box wrong. I'd selected the wrong consular office and needed the correct version of the form.

Oh. sh**.

A word of advice - If you are submitting a visa application to Manchester VFS, you need the Birmingham forms, not the London ones. Makes sense now doesn't it?

In a rare bout of foresight, I had taken the whole day off work to deal with any problems that might arise. I walked back up Stockport Road, trying to find somewhere with internet access and a printer. Amazingly, Levenshulme is so dated I was able to find a whole internet cafe.

Behind the counter I found a small Indian guy with a 20 inch waist listening to the Qur'an. More acclimatisation. I sat down at computer number six and started my application again. Ten minutes later I had finished. As I printed out the new forms I noticed the internet cafe even sold the specific 2x2 inch photos for the Indian visa. The whole place must be kept in business by idiots like me who forget some vital element of their visa application.

Back at the Jain Community Centre, the security guard let me go straight into the main office and process my visa. Everyone was well informed, helpful and friendly. That wasn't expected. Obviously I wont be needing my baksheesh just yet.

So far my Indian adventure has cost me £63.04 (visa documents, train ticket, internet cafe) and has taken me as far as the exotic town of Levenshulme. Back on the train towards familiar and cloudy Leeds, an uncomfortable question poked me in the back. I had just handed over money and my passport to a random guy in a community centre in Manchester - have I just been ripped off?

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