martes, julio 18, 2006

The Adventures of Ashwyn : The Case of the Spanish Visa - Part I.

It's been 3 days that I'm back from a truly mind (and leg) numbing trip to Delhi for my Spanish visa application, and I still haven't fully recovered. Before I give out a detailed account, here are some facts for readers to consider -

>> The Spanish embassy in India (Delhi) is common for not just all Indian states, but for countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

>> It's located at 12, Prithviraj Road, sort of at the intersection of Shahajahan Road and Prithviraj Road.

>> There are no seating arrangements outside the embassy, nor will you find any shops (due to security reasons), so come fully prepared. While you may find vendors selling bottled water on carts, make sure you carry something to snack on, as it's easily a 4-5 hour wait (for Larga Duracion visa applicants).

>> As far as possible, go with someone you know. Not only will they keep you company, you'll have someone to watch after your bags if you have to step outside the line for a bit. Suggested gadgets - A CD player / an ipod / an FM radio.

Right, now for the account. I intend to keep this as short as possible so I'll jump directly to the day that we went to the embassy. Timings are only indicative and may vary.

0430 hrs - Wake up, shower, take a rickshaw to 12, Prithviraj Road. Typical fare = Rs.50, although this is variable. There's no concept of metered rickshaws in Delhi.

0530 hrs - Reach embassy to find that we're numbers 9 and 10 in the line. You find one guy who has been waiting there since 0230 in the morning. You them make sure to get your name written down on this unofficial list that someone will have started. This is to ensure that people don't take your place if you step out for a bit. It's quite useless as you'll later see, but really it's for peace of mind.

0830 hrs - By now, the line has grown to a respectable 40-50 people, but most of these guys have come there for tourist visa applications and/or for visa enquiries. Very few people actually belong to the Long Duration class, and these include students like me, and work permit applicants.

0850 hrs - Guard opens gates, there's a scramble to rush in, only he doesn't allow anyone inside. Takes a look at the unofficial list, sorts people on the basis of their application type. Tourists stand go in first, followed by enquiries. Students / Work permit applicants are asked to stand in a separate line and they go in after everyone else has finished their work. So much for maintaining a list!

1038 hrs - Hunger pangs take over, legs start shaking. Check with guard to see how much more time it'll take, and he says (politely) that he'll send you in as soon as he receives orders to do so from inside.

1145 hrs - Someone from the embassy has finally given the guard a green signal, and you go in all exhausted, only to form a shorter line outside the main hall. From there, you can see why everything has been taking so long. There are only 2 counters inside, so the visa officers are sort of inundated by the sheer number of people coming there. There's a sofa on the side that seats about 3 people, and the second guard will allow you in if there's place.

1210 hrs - Finally your number comes, as the visa officer shouts "Nexxt!". All larga duracion visa applicants go to the counter on the left. It's a surprise to find a very well spoken and polite visa officer when you've been expecting a typical public sector employee. An exchange of pleasantries, and then she (the visa officer) gets down to business. Glances through documents to see if everything is in order (from what I've heard, it helps to arrange your documents in exactly the same order as mentioned on the form), and asks you a few questions. Why MBA? Why IESE? Why Spain? Are you planning on settling down there or do you wish to come back to India at the end of your tenure?
She realizes that you've travelled abroad before (by looking at the visas on your passport) and asks you to take a photocopy of all pages with visas and stamps on them. No, she says, there's no photocopy machine in the embassy.

1218 hrs - You rush outside asking every Tom, Dick and Harry where the nearest photocopy machine is, but not before telling the guard at the entrance that you'll be back in a bit. Someone takes pity on you and directs you to Khan Market. You take a rickshaw (fare - Rs 15) and make small talk with two Spaniards the driver has picked up on the way to make an extra buck. Find a cybercafe-cum-photocopy centre, take copies, take rickshaw back.

1232 hrs - You tell the guard that the visa officer is expecting you with documents, and you walk up to the counter (assuming it's free, of course) and hand over the documents to the officer. Small exchange of pleasantries, and you're returned back your passport and one of the 4 copies of the application form that you've filled in, with the application number written on it (you need to request for it). You're also told to call back in 2 weeks time to see if your documents are in order and to check the status of your application. If everything goes well, you are expected to go back to Delhi one more time with your passport to have the visa stamped.

There. If reading this is exhausting, wait till you get to Delhi!!

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martes, julio 11, 2006

As I pack my belongings and gather roughly 2 kilos of documents to take with me to New Delhi for my Spanish Visa application (I really wish they had a full fledged consulate here in Mumbai too) , here is a last minute check of all that I need -

1. Visa application filled in original, with photos (4 copies) ... check.
2. Certificate of previous studies (SSC, HSC, Graduation) ... check.
3. Copy of GMAT score ... check.
4. Original admission letter in English and Spanish from IESE ... check.
5. Details of the programme ... check.
6. Proof of medical insurance (Winterthur booklet) ... check.
7. Proof of economic means - bank statements + affidavit ... check.
8. Loan confirmation from Banco Sabadell ... check.
9. Medical certificate from Doc, HIV/WIDAL/MANTOUX test results ... check.
10. Passport, Indian PCC, UK PCC ... check.
11. Demand draft ... check.

Looks like I'm all set to go. Back on Saturday, wish me luck!

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