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by Paddu Menon
(Bangalore, India)

The summer or winter holidays are a time for travelling … domestic or abroad. If abroad it involves Visas. Ugh, the word Visa gives me a shudder. Why is giving a traveler a visa such a hassle? Why do we need to wallow through so much paperwork and details? Why biometric, fast track blah blah…? Why so much humiliation just to get a visa?

Australian visas are a wee bit easier to procure if you pass their medical if you are a senior. They say life of a senior should be made easy but no…not in the matter of visas. He has to go through all that rigmarole of filling up papers and papers of information. And if you are applying for husband and wife visa and if any of your info doesn’t match…. pouffe. Visa denied. Phew! All this notwithstanding, the person abroad who you are visiting has to send you an invite saying that we will be looked after by them and will not be a head ache for you, the country. And you have to prove that you are not dying of Aids or a Mafia to get a visa. Hullllooooo, seriously?

2023, a time of technology when in a flick of your finger you can transfer money, upload files, buy even the moon from Amazon, watch anything live, yet the visa procedure is stuck in the 80’s or worse. The UK, the US and the Schengen Visas are the most common and popular Visas for the affluent Indians. And they are the most difficult to get.

There was a time when US visas were given for ten years but not now. Not after 9/11. Now it is a tedious round of endless info, of passport photos of a particular color and dimension, redundant documents like bank statements and tax returns and of course an interview wait of no idea. A bank generated QR code should be sufficient.

Who goes to the bank nowadays? Just foggy men like my husband who still believe in hard copy. Thousands of man/woman( in my case) hours are spent filling papers giving your personal info and then checking, saving, checking. Gosh, what a waste of time and effort. They pretend to be environmentalists and do not realize the amount of carbon footprints saved if we can cut the paper work. I wonder what they do with so much paper? Interviews can be on video too. We can just Zoom through. Short visas are granted mostly, or exorbitant prices have to be paid for a ten-year visa almost close to 80K! Atrocious. These so-called developed countries will sell their cars and electronics in India, the Amazons and Tesla’s and Twitters have the most business from India and yet we have to face humiliation when we want to visit them. The Europeans and Americans think we Indians are crooks and thugs and are looking to stay in their countries. Why should we do that? We are proud Indians and prefer our Bharat Mata rather than your country where we will always be misfits. Some countries want your entire itinerary including air tickets, place of stay et all. And after all this we are at their mercy for a visa. In fact, they are still living in the colonial era when Europe was richer and stronger than India. And those times people could not be tracked with their digital imprint and so a rigorous paper trial was necessary…IF after all this you get a visa and then when you reach their shores the man at the counter will look you up and down as if you are a pariah and ask a host of irrelevant questions.

Hullo, we have reached here after all the question answer session and again? My husband had to face this at the immigration. Where will you stay, oh with your daughter for forty days? Really, then he looks cockeyed and smirks. Hullo we are Indians and do not kick out our kids as soon as they turn eighteen. And we do stay with them. My husband was furious but I shushed him. Did not want to be detained! But my husband said very clearly. Yes, and at the end of those forty days I will return to my motherland happily. The gora gave him a stare but let him pass. Maybe the look in my husband’s eyes forewarned him to take no panga!!I think these goras actually believe that India is still a third world country and under their control. It will do travelers and consulates a world of good if this type of difficulties is removed for ever and travelling is made easier. We are not asking for Athithi Devo Bhava treatment but at least treat us well.


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