I at last got round to filling in the visa application on Sunday for my trip to Bangalore.
Today, as the weather forecast was for dry and sunny, I went to the Indian Consulate in Edinburgh to get it processed. I drove to the park and ride at Newcraighall and got the train in - much less hassle than driving into Edinburgh itself, especially as I didn't know how long I would be.
I knew roughly where I had to go - it was in Rutland Square at the opposite end of Princes Street to Waverley station. I had a quick look at a bus route map, and saw I should turn left onto Lothian street, and it should be further up there on the right. I set off and wandered down Lothian street. I remembered that I had not dated my form - was not sure which day I would actually go to Edinburgh - and a quick check revealed I had no black pen in my handbag. I dived into a newsagents to buy one. I continued walking, but did not see the square. Luckily there was a traffic warden nearby, who very kindly directed me to an underpass under a building opposite which came out in the square.
It was about 11.15 when I found the consulate. As I was about to enter a man called out if I was enquiring about a visa to go to the basement. I enquired whether there was a ticket system, but no - everyone just shuffled along the chairs everytime someone was called to the counter. Just like the DHSS in Dundee as I recall, except the chairs weren't bolted to the floor...
I joined the queue at the end of row three of three - 17 people ahead of me. Two Indians immediatley in front of me realised they were in the wrong queue, and left. 15 people ahead of me. I shuffled along. As I sat there I realised the form I had filled in was different to the one on display. Mine was a London form from the web, theirs was an Edinburgh form. I decided for safety sake to fill in an Edinburgh form as well - I had plenty of time and a new black pen. At 11.50 there were 7 people ahead of me - so, about 5 minutes per person. At this rate I should just about make the 12.30 cut-off. Didn't look good for those who had come in after me...
And then a new man took over at the counter. Suddenly we were shuffling along at break-neck speed, and it was my turn. I handed over my Edinburgh form (definitely a shrewd move as I observed people frantically filling them in when the web form had been rejected), passport and the £30.00 fee. The bottle-neck came waiting to get our receipts for our passports - man number one had taken over this task. I was out by 12.15, having to go back between 16.00 and 17.00 to collect passport and hopefully visa.
I headed back to Princes street. I had £30 of M&S vouchers that Paul had won in various bridge tourneys, and the nearest M&S to us was here. I managed to spend them and more without too much of a problem, and also managed a little more Christmas shopping. By 2 p.m. I was beginning to flag, and stopped for lunch.
I still had over an hour to fill, and continued trudging up and down and in and out of shops, but my enthusiasm for the task had long since lapsed. I decided to wander back to the consulate early and wait - and found there was already a queue. They eventually opened the doors about 5 minutes late, but the process of retrieving the passports was a lot quicker. I collected mine plus visa, and headed straight back to Waverley station.
As I waited on the platform I attracted the nutter, or maybe I am just paranoid. I was the only person there at the time, and then this youngish lad arrived and sat on the same bench as me. I thought it odd. He then asked if I had the time. I wasn't wearing a watch, but pointed out there was a clock not far from us. He then started muttering a bit and whistling. I felt slightly better as a few more people had arrived on the platform by now. Then he moved into the seat next to me. I was fastidiously ignoring him. I was very relieved when he then got up and wandered further up the platform, and I ensured I got into a different carriage to him when the train arrived.
Anyway, only 2 months until I go to Bangalore. Flights booked and visa sorted. Need to sort out typhoid jab at the start of December...
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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