Thursday, February 26, 2009

Indian Visa

Off to the Indian Consulate today to get our visa's. Had the forms filled in, pictures etc. Just had to stop at the bank to get a bank draft for payment. Luckily Michael noticed that was the only way to pay - bank draft. No problem, planned to drop the kids at school at 9:00 and go to bank here in White Rock. Haven't actually been into a bank in a long time. Who knew - they don't open until 9:30. Decided to head downtown and go to bank there.

Michael had mentioned that there was a Bank of Montreal at Seymour and Georgia which wasn't exactly close to the Consulate (at Canada Place) but decided to go there. Easy drive in, no traffic, parked on Seymour and walked up to Georgia. Looked around - no BMO. Phoned Michael to find out address - no answer. Frustration sets in, drop phone, battery falls out. Put battery back in, phone freezes. Take a deep breath, relax. Turn phone off, then on - good it works. Text Michael "I need BMO address now!"

He phones and tells me it's not right at the corner, it's actually at Homer and Georgia - another 2 blocks east. I'm getting further and further from the Consulate and by now it's 10:20 and it closes at 12:00 - I'm getting a little worried as I know there are usually long lineups at consulates. I finally find the bank and I walk in and it's no bigger than my bathroom - what country am I in? I've never seen a bank so small but the good news is there's no lineup. Easily get the bank drafts and walk very fast towards the Indian Consulate.

Finally get there at 10:50 and see a well dressed Indian man with a turban and a caucasian woman wearing bright orange pants and a flowery blouse - yes, this must be the place. Up two flights of stairs and into the consulate. About twenty people in the office waiting. I look right away to take a number, then find a seat. Everyone else is of Indian origin, wearing colorful sari's or turbans. I've brought a book and a newspaper to keep myself occupied. I look at my number - 46 and then warily look up to see what number they are on....45! What? I look around at all the other people - how can that be??

The security guy comes over and says something to me. He has a heavy Indian accent and I don't understand him. I smile and say "Visa." He says, "Papers, pictures, bank draft?" I say, "Yes, yes I have it." He looks at me disbelievingly and says, "let me see." So I pull out the applications all filled out with the pictures attached and he looks surprised. He smiles and motions for me to sit at the front. And then he motions for me to go to the wicket. I can't believe I just got here and I'm being served!

The Indian man at the wicket is nice - he likes the fact that my husband has to go there to work and the kids and I get to vacation. He too is surprised that everything seems to be in order. But then he says, "your husband needs a letter from the Vancouver office saying that he works there and is going to India on busines." I swear under my breath because Michael specifically said that other people got visa's without that letter.

I phone Michael to have him fax a letter - no answer!! I text him, "You need that letter, phone me now!" He phones and then quickly has someone write and fax a letter. Everything is in order, I pay and will come back tomorrow to pick up visas. Very efficient and nice people at the Consulate!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the Beginning...

Jan. 27 – Saw Slumdog Millionaire last night. “It is written.” I think it’s all a sign – we are meant to go to India. Before we went to China there were programs on TV about China. And now there’s a series about India. And now the best movie of the year is set in India. I can’t stop thinking about going there. The lawyers who make up the contract are out of office til next week due to Chinese New Year!! Can you believe it?

We’ve been looking at pictures of the neighbourhoods that expats live in and they look pretty nice, with a communal pool. So much to do if we really are going to go, need to speed up the process. Have to do a previsit, look into schools, housing, rent/sell our place, vaccinations. Most importantly keep a good attitude for the kids, really hope they will be positive. I just think this is an amazing opportunity and a good age schoolwise and to appreciate the culture. For me I hope to write and get involved in the community. Plus I’m going to love the heat. We joke around that the kids will be taking Bollywood dance lessons, Sitar lessons and Craig will be a cricket star.

Feb. 4 – Thinking about India all the time. Just want to burst open and tell everyone that we are going but can’t until we know for sure. No point getting everyone excited/upset until we know for sure. Although, Michael has told some of his family and a couple friends. But I guess I don’t want to talk about it too much until it is certain.

Took the kids to the dentist today and mentioned we might be moving for a couple years and he said, “That’s ok, there’s dentists everywhere.” But when I mentioned India he said, “Well, I don’t really recommend the dentists in India.” I guess he’s seen a few botched cases from there.

Michael talked to the Bangalore guys last night and they will try to find out if the contract is ready. Then we can book a pre visit for the end of March during and kids spring break. Not sure if we want to take the kids as we don’t want such a short trip (one week) to be a bad experience. Craig especially takes about a week to get acclimatized to the time change. When we went to China he fell asleep at the dinner table almost every night – poor kid. Alanna on the other hand managed very well. Also have to see about vaccinations.

Checked out some schools online. We would have to make arrangements to visit all the schools of course when we are there. So much to do, so little time. But I have such a strong feeling that we will be going I just want to get on with it and especially arrange the pre visit.

Feb. 11 – Still waiting for the contract. Hopefully we get it soon. We need to make so many arrangements just for the pre visit in March – if we go.

Feb. 20 – Michael received contract yesterday and it looks good. We have to go over it a bit more but looks like we will approve it and things should progress quickly. Received our invitations from the company in Bangalore for the whole family to go for a previsit. Today we are going to the travel clinic for consultation and possibly shots. I have printed out the Visa forms that we need to submit next week. Next thing will be to make appointments to view the different schools in Bangalore. We plan on going for the previsit during March break. First must make sure about vaccinations today.

Feb. 21 – Went for vaccinations yesterday. Spent about an hour going over the prevalent diseases, vaccines etc. Very thorough. Michael and I had to get two shots – didn’t hurt much at all but our arms have gotten sorer overnight. Alanna got off lucky with only one shot as she got her grade 6 vaccines this year – she was happy. Craig unfortunately has to get four shots. Got two yesterday and will get two more next week. We will also take an oral vaccine to ward off intestinal bugs (Dukoral) and take a broad spectrum antibiotic with us in case we do get quite sick. From our previous experience we know this is quite possible.

Today I sent off some emails to three of the international schools to make appointments to see them during our previsit. We’ve decided to stay at ITC Windsor Bengaluru which has great reviews. Another option was to stay in an apartment with maid/cook service. But decided that for this 2 week trip we want it to be more like a vacation with the kids. The hotel has a nice pool, restaurants etc. Looking forward to it.

Feb 23
Our previsit has finally been approved!! Very exciting! We can finally tell people that we are going for the two weeks at spring break. Got responses from all the Bangalore schools yesterday and we have appointments for March 17, 18, 19. Spoke with the kids’ teachers today as they need to write a letter of recommendation for the schools. Spent yesterday photocopying report cards, filling in visa applications/school applications etc. Got the kids pictures taken today for visas. Things are looking good!