What I Learned from the Indian Visa Application

Floating Heads

India Visa Application

What are with these questions on the visa application for India??? Well, I’m glad you asked, we really need to get to the heart of the matter.

India… India… India…

We're not that scary, really

You need not be afraid India…

The very sound of it brings flooding visions of spiritual quests and holy leaders. You know that just going to India will bring new waves of shock, excitement and adrenaline like you’ve never experienced. There’s no doubt about it, India is different, and they want you to know right away…. so they start with the ever-so-interesting visa application.

You will be forced to seek deep inside yourself to ask those difficult questions such as ‘What is your religion?’ Sure, that’s an easy question for many out there that fall into one of the dropdown categories, but for the less defined, such as myself, you find your first challenge. And your inner voices start to discuss,

Your Religion…

...But I can be quite peaceful

…I come in peace

“Christian because you went to church as a 5 year old”

“No way brother, you are clearly Buddhist, just think of all those quotes you see from Buddha posted on Facebook”

“Clearly, you read the Tao of Pooh and saw the value in the uncarved block”

“Ahh… but remember that Youtube video on Jainism, you felt strongly about its 4 major principles… whatever  they were”

“Zoroastrian… that sounds neat, do we have time to look it up, maybe you’re that?”

“Buddy, you’re clearly an atheist if you are using Facebook or Youtube as sources for your religion”

“Atheist is so strong… write Agnostic… after all, are you really convinced that god doesn’t exist?”

“Wait, what’s the differencet between atheist and agnostic… one must mean against god, the other against religion, no? Shit, if that’s true you really can’t write either”

“Do you think you can write… ‘Other… On a spiritual quest’?”

“Are you really one of those to write ‘Other… Spiritual?”

“You have to write something, it says to clearly describe what ‘other’ means”

ugh… damn… okay Other… undefined… I wonder how that’s going to look. Can’t worry about it now, let’s hope it’s not a red flag, and continue on.

I fit right in, you won't even notice me

I fit right in, you won’t even notice me

Current Employer…

“Certainly can’t write ‘unemployed’ … just write down your last employer before you skipped town 5 months ago. Remember to call them and let them know, hopefully they won’t hold a grudge.”

Current Position…

um… on Sabbatical?

Countries visited in last 10 years, (limited to 100 characters)

“Hmm… look through your passport and the first 10 you see? Maybe try it chronologically, or alphabetically? Should you skip ones like Colombia based on reputation, or Cayman Islands as you were only there for a stopover?

“I wonder if you can just put abbreviations and hope they get the point that you’re just passing through”

“Maybe you should not mention the countries where you overstayed visas and hope they don’t find those stamps… but if they do find them, it’s pretty suspicious looking.”

“Okay, first ten stamps it is… moving on”

Looks like I'm crossing by water
If I can’t get in the easy way, I’ll swim there!

Father’s Birthplace

” Do you think they mean where he was actually born, somewhere in between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia that he doesn’t know anything about… or where his passport inaccurately claims he was born (in Canada), despite not arriving there until he was 3?”

“Canada sounds good… plus it ties in nicely to your own nationality”

Has your father ever had another citizenship?

“Just write ‘No’ and hope that they’re not better at researching your past than you are.”

Sponsor in India…

“This hotel looks good… hope they don’t call them. Note to self, make a reservation with a hotel before applying for an Indian Visa, or find a contact in India that you can claim to be your sponsor.”

Sponsor in France…

...Or maybe I'll find an underground passage

…Or maybe I’ll find an underground passage

“What? Seriously? The French didn’t ask you to have a sponsor when you arrived, but now the Indians care… are they afraid that you’re fleeing France… and landing in India???

They are aware that there’re easier ways to flee a country that fly around the world right?”

Intended Destinations in India…

“Right, where was my buddy’s wedding again? Googlemaps it is…”

Port of Departure…

“Don’t say you have no idea… it looks suspicious… You still have Googlemaps open right?”

Whew, that’s done. As long as you didn’t write ‘Pakistan’ anywhere I think you’ll be alright…

End of the Line

The spiritual journey into the heartland of religion and belief has already made me search deeper into my very being than I had expected and prepared for. I’m starting to wonder who I am, where I come from, what I believe, where I’m going, and why I’m going there. But after all, if you don’t stop to ask yourself the questions, how can you know when you find the answers? Now I just need a photo… easy enough.

What? I'm harmless

What? I’m harmless

Hold on… what does it say on the website, “The photos taken in French photobooths will not be accepted”

What the hell does that mean? You best be kiddin’ me if you think that I’m leaving the country just to get a photo just to try to leave the country!

What is it exactly that the French did to you India?

I mean, is it this difficult from every country, or is this just a residual resentment that the English left in place when they parted ways with India?? If anything, shouldn’t you love the French?

Come on, equality, freedom, fraternity, doesn’t that sounds good to you? If nothing else, can’t you at least find common ground in having a tough history against the English?

I’m Canadian and totally harmless. I promise to not stay and add to your problems of overpopulation. Nor will I start any sort of holy war, and no I haven’t been to Pakistan…

Will you please accept my India Visa Application now?

28 thoughts on “What I Learned from the Indian Visa Application

  1. girjaa

    Stef…this is brilliant..so funny I am laughing out loud….fabulously written interweaving great info for a traveller to India, and already profound questions that anyone travelling to the promise of India should be asking themselves!!

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Thanks a lot Girjaa… Always happy to be able to entertain & inform, as laughter will make any situation go down a little easier and we all know the usefulness of knowledge. I’ll keep you abreast of the answers that I find travelling through this promise land.

      Reply
  2. Anuraaga

    Rest assured Stef its not France, even here in Can- ada with my completely and perfectly Indian sounding name like Anuraaga – I am always left in tatters trying to answer the maddening Indian application questions. Its actually simply to get you prepared that things will get better, much better and much easier, upon entry should you be allowed upon promises to not blink in the Pakistani direction, EVER!

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Anuraaga, what a fantastic name that is! Upon meeting up with my friends in India and realizing that everyone took a different strategy to answering the application form, I was left reminded of your comment… and just how true it is. We’re close to the border now, so I’ll make sure to not look in that direction :)

      Reply
  3. Gabor Kovacs

    I haven’t had so much laugh when reading a travel related blog post for a long time!! Rachele asked what the hell I was reading. At the same time, it is really informative, I saved this for a latter occasion! Thanks for the entertainment!:)

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Hey, thanks a lot!
      I swear that it’s got to be one of the most confusing visa applications in the world, but the entertainment value provided is second-to-none as well. Much appreciated comment

      Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Haha, yeah you have a point there. From what I’ve seen, everyone has been accepted, even though they couldn’t answer a good chunk of the questions… and ya, sabbatical worked :)

      Reply
  4. frankaboutcroatia

    Hahaha, really entertaining post with a completely different angle. Did you apply for Indian visa from France, or they seriously have an issue with French?! Anyways, at least they don’t ask your whereabouts from 1991-1995, as they do for Croatians applying for the USA (and not long ago Canadian) visa :)

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      It seems as though this application is a nightmare/satirical joke no matter where you do it. I’m currently watching people struggle with it everyday in Kathmandu, quite entertaining watching backpackers phone home (for the first time in months) to ask where their parents were born.
      On a separate note, and in the interest of national security… where WERE you between ’91-’95???

      Reply
  5. Kelly Dunning

    “Clearly, you read the Tao of Pooh and saw the value in the uncarved block”

    One of my favourite books, ever. I loved this blog and it made me laugh. I never know what to fill out on these sorts of crazy-detailed applications.

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Hey Kelly,
      Thanks a lot. That is a fantastic book. I know there’s a second one, the Te of Piglet I believe, but haven’t bothered picking it up yet… I mean how can you improve upon using Winnie The Pooh as a major philosophical figure?!
      Thanks for stopping by from Global Goose, you guys have a great site going over there.

      Reply
  6. Chris Boothman

    Please don’t talk to me about visa applications! I am about tired of them now living in the United States. The amount of paperwork that I have had to complete, combined with the $$$ I have spent is unreal, ranging from getting my initial F1 Visa to arrive in the States on a student visa, to my current conditional permanent residency (green card).

    It’s a tiring process for sure and you just have to go along with it. The annoying aspect for me are those folks that bypass everything and get into a country without having to fill out all the paperwork. You try and do the right thing, follow the procedures of a country but yet are punished for making the smallest of mistakes (oh and of course you have to pay more money to correct the issue!).

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Wow Chris, sounds like an absolute nightmare. Actually even coming down from Canada I’ve had all sorts of friends and family tell me about just how ridiculously difficult it is to jump through all the hoops in the states.
      One of the worst cases I know is this friend of mine who’s married with a child to an American. They are willing to live in either The States or Canada. However, Canada won’t grant her citizenship and The States won’t grant him citizenship, so they have to keep hopping back and forth every 3 months or something like that… so ridiculous!

      Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Totally Ashley. You can’t figure out for the life of you what the correct answer would be, and thus don’t know if you’re incorrect answers will flag your file and prevent you from obtaining the visa.

      Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      India is a grand adventure… starting right from the visa application.
      The problem with the Indian Visa is that you have to write a religion… you can’t move on otherwise.

      Reply
  7. Raphael Alexander Zoren

    The procedure for the Indian Visa in Mexico is very efficient, in my opinion, the Chinese visa on the other hand…oh god. Instead of mailing the application, they demand you to be present physically at the embassy located in Mexico City, which is extremely inconvenient for somebody who doesn’t live there!

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      Interesting point Raphael… I’ll have to keep in mind to not get a Chinese visa when I’m in Mexico. The sad thing is, I could definitely see myself accidentally ending up in that situation in a couple of years remembering this little tidbit of information. :P

      Reply
  8. Michele

    I think the Indians have learnt something from the Russians, there visas are very similar. The wonderful about booking.com etc is you can book and then cancel after the visa has been arranged. Now you have your Indian one the Russian one will be easy.

    Reply
  9. Erin

    I feel as if I should bookmark this just in case I ever find myself in India. I better start narrowing down my own religion. Is there a check box for “Changes Every Few Years”? Hysterical post. Loving this blog :)

    Reply
    • Jonny Jenkins Post author

      So glad to hear Erin, I’m loving having you as a reader. Though, I think if you go back too far you might end up realizing that I’ve only been attempting humour for the last little while.

      Before that, it was mostly this is this and that is that… though I’m not one to be too serious so at times this was that and that was this… then this got all twisted up with that and I couldn’t tell this from that and only Dr. Seuss could thoughtfully think through the this/that theoretical thinking thistle. :p

      Reply

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