Instructions Unclear, Visa Denied


I’m not a good travel planner. I usually request other people to do it so that I can sit back and criticize if the planning goes awry. The problem with me planning a trip is that I believe in Murphy’s law.

When I was in Ooty earlier in 2022, I had pre-booked a cab for my family to move around in the hill station. The agency had rigid terms, but I went with it anyway because it seemed like the most reliable of the lot in Coimbatore (which is where most people arrive before they hike up to Ooty). I went out of my way to ensure that the chauffeur’s needs were taken care of. They call it “bata” for some reason: arrangements for their food, stay, and wash throughout the trip. I even had our resort get him accommodation for a small fee, and he seemed happy about it. But then I suspect the guy didn’t use the accommodation. Instead, he slept in the vehicle and kept for himself the fee which I had made the mistake of giving to him instead of directly to the resort.

Says something about the desperation of professional cab drivers. The point, however, and the reason for my frustration is that the guy pulled a fast one on me a few more times during the trip. And I was almost sure about them even before I left home.

This constant fear of a possibility that something will go wrong is why I don’t plan trips, at least all by myself. It is for the same reason why I sold my car. Murphy’s law really gets me.

But I now realize that there is no escape from it if I’m going to travel the world. (I started in late 2021.) Due to friends that do not subscribe to the idea of globetrotting when young, I have to keep myself company during trips. Which forced me to plan my next international holiday on my own. I found myself sitting in the office of Akbar Travels.

Here are two (sic) of the several instructions that the travel agent had emailed me as requisite for my visa application:

  • Return Confirmed Ticket is must
  • Sample covering letter to the Consulate

I printed out the return ticket and the sample letter after editing it. In the latter, I was a bit unsure about what all to edit because while the letter was written by one Ajit A, the undersignee was a Bharat P. The addresses were different too. Because I had heard from a friend that VFS Global is what handles visas for most countries, I assumed the undersignee was a VFS Global representative, sending the cover letter on Ajit A‘s behalf behalf. So, while I replaced Ajit A with my name and also other corresponding details, I kept the undersignee as is.

Right now, in the office I handed the documents to the agent.

Agent: Sir, I’ll also need your onward ticket…

Me: But your email mentioned “return confirmed ticket”.

A: That’s right. “Return” means to-and-fro…

Me: (knowing very well what it means) Let me forward the ticket to you. Can you please print it out for me?

(I had also assumed that the consulate would only need to ensure that I return back home and not overstay my welcome. So, a copy of the return ticket was sufficient. Why would they need proof of my onward travel?!)

A: (clearly miffed) Sir, you are supposed to be the undersignee. That’s why I sent you the sample document. Please edit and print again.

Me:

I remember I had to spend extra time at the office as a result.

Had I done it on my own (if it was possible), the visa application might be rejected. Blame it on my limiting literal comprehension ability that doesn’t take nuance into consideration. Or see it as a side-effect of an editing job.


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