Want your India Journalist's visa? Go here ... But plan on waiting in line for weeks...
Oh the insanity.
Over a month ago now, I submitted my paperwork, along with my precious passport, to the India Consulate via a company called BLS International, in order to secure my entry visa to the great Asian land of mystery and enchantment (Couldn't resist that rather dramatic opening). I'll be heading to India and Nepal in June in part to research new material for what will become Chase Baker III, but also to photograph and write a few travel pieces for both the Vox and whoever/whatever will buy them...
...Oops, did I just say I will be working in India????
Scratch that...I will not be working. You see, I can only enter into India as a journalist because, well, I make my living as a journalist and writer. But here's the catch, India will only grant me a visa if it's a journalists visa and only if I make a solemn promise not to perform any journalism while I'm there. Huh? You with me here? Or as fucking confused as I am?
Three weeks ago, I (along with a crew from The Daily Show) was summoned to the NYC India Consulate where, inside a sweltering basement room cooled by non-effective ceiling fans, made to sign an affidavit swearing I would not practice any journalism while visiting India. That is, unless I agreed to attend a news conference about the upcoming India elections and engage in writing some "positive stories" about them. "Yeah, I'll drop everything and get right on that..."
Well, I haven't attended any news conferences about elections in India, however (and at this point, miraculously), I have been told (via email) that my visa and passport have been processed and, low and behold, approved. But here's the thing: I still haven't received my priceless materials from Fed Ex, even though I've forwarded three separate pre-paid return envelopeds to BLS. That's right, three envelopes. Now I get an email just this morning telling me BLS is about to go belly up in a matter of ummmm, days.
Oh, the humanity...
I suppose I might have to haul ass back down to NYC and strangle someone in order to get my goods back. And then, if I can avoid arrest and have finally made it to India, I will swear to God that the camera in my hand, and the laptop in my satchel, and the notebooks stuffed into my pockets on my bush jacket, are all just for show. I'm not really a journalist and I'm not being a journalist. Who says I'm a writer? I'm just being a stupid nobody, doing nothing, for no good reason.