Having planned to embark from DFW airport on Nov. 29th, I should be arriving in Bangalore, India by now. As you may have guessed, since I’m writing in past tense, I’m not in India.
The first rule of traveling, as every traveler knows, is to expect the unexpected. It’s not just about the destination, but also about the journey, right?! Whether it’s the screaming child next to you on the plane or forgetting your cell phone in a taxi somewhere, the unexpected can easily disrupt your otherwise well laid plans.
I’d done my initial planning… I considered visiting the beaches of Goa, the backwater inlets of Kerala, and even Calcutta to the east. But, in the end after my business was done in Bangalore, I had settled on spending a few days seeing Mumbai (or Bombay) and the desert state of Rajasthan known for it’s colorful cities and old India feel.
I’d also paid my $200 to sign up for the American Airlines Platinum Challenge to achieve a higher level of elite status than I’d normally reach with less points (not miles!) than normally required. 10,000 points within 3 months of the challenge, instead of the normal 50,000 points. Since the flight was business class, which converts to higher point values, I would have met the challenge en route and probably with only one leg of the trip completed.
Sadly, in this case, my visa never showed up. It’s stuck in some bureaucratic holding pattern. Still.
As I checked the status of my visa over the last 4 weeks, I’ve been confronted with the screen above, and no update since 11/9/10. So the flight I purchased (knowing the risk) has been canceled and now the trip is in a holding pattern too.
The company who handles the visa processing for the Indian Consulates says on their website, plain as day:
“Due to the Houston Consulate being inundated with visa requests, processing times for Houston applications is at a MINIMUM OF 3 WEEKS. We strongly advise that tickets should not be purchased until all visas are granted and in your possession.”
If the visa shows up in the next two days, which seems increasingly unlikely, it may still be worth while to make the trip now. If not, then the trip is postponed until the beginning of 2011, subject to scheduling conflicts and my business partner’s visa requirements. Because the visa processed is designed to avoid personal contact with the individuals seeking visas, there’s no chance of getting an update about when to expect the visa.
Lessons Learned: Plan ahead, check. I did that! Use a visa broker? They still seem kind of shady to me. Expect the unexpected, definitely.
So, now I wait and create a contingency plan for both the business project and the timing for travel to India…
Update: I got official word yesterday that my visa had been processed and that my passport with visa would be sent back to me today. Finally!