What a mess. At the time of writing it is one hour until the end of Delhi’s office hours, and an hour left for an email to come saying an Australian visa has been granted for three Nepali athletes – Mira, Purna and Samir. Hope has faded – 16:21…
Everybody here knows how difficult it is to get visas. Nepal’s passport is ranked below Eritrea, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and just one point above Palestine’s in terms of the number of countries you can travel to freely. Australia is widely regarded as having the strictest process of all. “Much worse than US,” a friend tells me.
In this case, we ran out of time. The first application for a general visitors visa (US$170 each – as previously done for Europe and Hong Kong) was rejected. Apparently to run in a race you need a special temporary work permit. The people who manage the paperwork submission aren’t able to provide advice in the process so could not stop us making the mistake.
The second application was thus just too late. Another $190 spent each and – 16:54 – looks like that is going to waste too. Plus the $450 spent changing flights. Living here in Nepal for quite some time, I also neglected to consider that Easter would mean two days of office closure.
And today is Nepal Bandh (a full road closure enforced by threat of violence by political parties), so the local office where I was planning to go and roll around on the floor crying, was closed. I hate the strikes anyway, they’re as evil as they are stupid, and I hate them all the more for preventing me from flogging my dignity for the chance of expediting a process.
A friend in Australia says:
“Oh man. That is so annoying. I’ve been telling everyone I know about this to try and bring attention to the stupid visa issues in this country. We are meant to be a sporting country that gives everyone a fair go – which is clearly not true because you have to be rich and prosperous to even be allowed to compete in our races… So annoyed for you and embarrassed by how stupid and bigoted this country has become. Sorry.”
I am sorry for Mira, Purna and Samir who trained so hard, and were so close to running with Kangaroos, and will be bitterly disappointed. It is not just the chance to run in Australia, but the chance to win, to be recognised, and move up to greater things.
Now what to do…. change flights for another period in the year? Is it even possible to get a visa for Nepali athletes? Or cancel the flights and take the 50% refund?
Now it is 17:13 and so two minutes to end of office day in Delhi. A friend in a good mood leaves the room, noticing a little bit of tension on my face and leaves a parting shot:
“Nice to see a white man worrying about visa issues!”
17:15 Nepal time = 17:00 India time. Time to look to Europe this summer.
[Update: thanks to all those who helped in this process, Sean, Marcus, Jane, Lloyd, Samir, Purna, Mira, Manen and friends!]
[Update 2: Responses from Samir: “ok thank you sir no problem”; Mira: “Okay sir. Thats not your fault..”; Purna: “Ok sir no probalem.” Stoic.]