Today is to my time in Malta since September as to what Wednesday is to the week.. I finally feel like we are "over the hump." We are on the home-stretch, pouring every last ounce of energy and productivity we have into the remainder of our preparations for our journey.
I say that today is the hump day of my work year because I have recently taken on the grueling task of attempting to obtain a tourist visa to travel India with some friends during the month of July. After a few phone calls, I was able to locate the Indian consulate located here in Malta (Santa Verna to be exact). On a map it is not to far from where our boat is docked. I called many times during their work hours which I was amazed to discover were between 9am and 12 noon Mon-Fri. So the Indian consulate here in Malta is open for a mere 3 hour window. On top of that I discovered that it is closed on all Maltese AND Indian holidays, which in other words it is open three or four days a week, tops.. Obstacle one, calling and determining how/when I can come visit the consulate; complete.
--- One Month Passes ---
As you can see I was on the ball when it comes down to completing very necessary personal tasks. It is now the end of April and I finally skip out of work for a few hours before they close to get my 4 passport size photos taken. I will need these for my visa, as well as a ticket into Inida, an exit ticket out of India, a letter of intent and a copy of the crew list. Documentation in hand, I jump in an overpriced cab and head off with a smile and determination to complete this dark cloud that has been lurking in the background of every daydream of how amazing it will be to travel to India!
I arrive at the door of the Indian consulate after negotiating a price that was triple what it should have been given its distance and my experience here.. but at this point could do nothing but bite the bullet and pay the cabby. I go up to the door, here it is the last obstacle between me and my Indian visa!!! I am shaking with anticipation and eager to check this off my To-Do-List. My To-Do-List has recently become a type of Bucket List... If I don't start checking things off I will be suffocated by the exponentially increasing random tasks... And in that sense my To-Do-List would then inadvertently become a very depressing Bucket List.
Much to my dismay, upon further intel recon, I discover that I have just arrived to a Indian Consulate door that has the metal guard down.. I am quickly fighting that awful feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach that I imagine you would get when you realize that you drank from the same cup as someone with mono. I see through the metal guard a sign written on an A4 size paper that say, "If the door is locked, please enter Indian Consulate through door of Auto Dealer Ship next door." Hmm, strange but I've seen much stranger. I look up and as stated on the sign there is a Jeep Dealership right next door. I walk in and am very unsure of why my hunt for an Indian visa led me to a Jeep dealership. How will my question be received by someone who sells cars? Not to my surprise, the showroom is empty except for a few Jeeps, the models of which I have never seen before on any street in America.
I proceed to the back, I am looking for the offices. I half stumble upon what seems to be an employee... I ask him, in a very uncertain tone...
Me: "Excuse me sir, is this, the.. Uh... Indian Consulate?"
Car Salesman: "No no, you must go through that door," pointing to a glass door that was off to the side of the dealership.
Me: "Oh ok, great thank you.."
Car Salesman: "No problem sir.."
I proceed to the frosted glass door with a nice wooden frame. I am one step closer to reaching my final goal, I am so close I can almost taste it.... not the visa, the curry and naan bread I will live off of for a month straight!!! Out of the corner of my eye I catch a fleeting glimpse of the very helpful and kind car salesman go back to his own office area.. I begin to wonder how many times he has had a very confused tourists ask him that exact question. As I am reaching for the door I see my friendly car salesman slip into a side door of his own...
I am now, FINALLY in the Indian Consulate.. With everything that I need and all the time in the world!! I am as good as legal to visit India. I turn the corner and walk to the counter. What happens next has only been seen in movies or happened to a friend of yours once in their life....
Remember that friendly car salesman that was so helpful and kind?? Hahahah, as it turns out, he is a man who wears many hats, a jack-of-all-trades. I am not kidding, he IS the man who will be deciding on the success/failure of my visa application. He is a car salesman by day and an.. an.. Indian Visa officer... by day?! I laughed out loud and couldn't stop thinking that he is the Indian equivalent of Clark Kent, Chakyar Kopoor... He is faster than a speeding bullet when getting from the car dealership to the Indian Consulate office. He sells cars and plans your travels. He provides you with an automobile if you are in the market or a stamp in your visa if that is what your heart desires. I wish I could remember his name. By this act of welcoming me as a car salesman, only to then transform in the blink of an eye to the Indian Visa officer, his powers can only be trumped by Krishna.
This experience will stick with me for a long while. To those of you who read it on my blog I apologize for the time in which you will pop your head into a conversation I am having in which I am re-enacting this exact experience.. To my loyal readers I apologize for the 3 month hiatus (I was in Belgium and had writers block.. or a 3 month long hangover.) But now I am back... and all I say to you is what you would hear if you were leaving the Kwik-E-Mart, "Thank you, come again.."