Small victories against the sarkarji

I see you lawyer, stamping that paper...

I see you lawyer, using your stamp...

My most recent victory against the Indian bureaucracy involved procuring an affidavit (being prepared above) attested by an SDM, or sub-divisional magistrate.

It was a long, drawn-out process that involved several hours of sitting in a cold office foyer until a sour Indian civil servant decided he was done eating lunch. Mr. Kumar, the SDM I needed to sign my paperwork, reminded me of a bitter, dour-looking Indian version of Rod Blagojevich (weasely with floppy hair and a sly grin) without any charm or ambition (if that’s possible).

I must point out that, though I was ecstatic to get the affidavit signed, it’s as if I was overjoyed that a deputy city clerk did his/her job. Basically, my victory involved the system working as it rarely does and always should.

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I may be ‘stuck’ in southeast Asia

Anyone contemplating a visit in the next year should probably pay attention. There has been an official hiccup in visa rules, meaning I may need to leave the country for longer than planned this spring.

Essentially, after it was revealed that alleged terrorist conspirator David Headley had stayed in India long-term on a tourist visa, the Indian government has cracked down. Under previous rules, with the five-year tourist visa I currently hold, I could stay in the country for up to six months at a time and leave even for one day to “reset” my visa clock. Hence, my week booked in Thailand beginning March 31.

However, under the new rules, I have to leave for at least two months. This means that instead of returning to India from Thailand, and heading to Sikkim to teach English at a volunteer-supported school, I would be “stuck” in Thailand. And the Thai tourist visa is typically valid for 30 days, meaning I would need to move somewhere else.

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