September 2005 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman

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Asha in school drag
Asha in school drag.
30/9/2005 - Missing Month

Well almost, considering it's over. So why have I been so negligent, you might ask, if there are still any readers out there, which I certainly don't deserve. Anyway, that's how it turned out, and here's the griff.

Well a primary consideration was work. I'm trying to work two projects, and I've been going in early, and working Saturday and Sunday mornings. This didn't leave a lot of time or energy for your blogger to pursue BritsEyeView.
Asha get's featured because I happened on her in her school uniform one day, and she was looking cute. There's history here, which I should probably recap or repeat. Asha lives with her brothers and sisters on the street, specifically at the intersection of Church Street and Museum Road. Terry and I are paying for her to go to school, because we think she's bright, and deserves an education. She goes to a catholic school at the Sacred Heart church down on Richmond Road by our butcher's shop.

So, it transpires that on the day of the photo, she was off school because her mother wanted her begging. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! She and the mother both got a bollocking, and were warned that if her attendance was not good, there'd be no school next year.

At some point in the month, Terry got into an altercation with some of Danny's friends at the Taj over Sunday brunch, and as a result they all got banned. So that particular avenue of pleasure is now denied to us, unless I go by myself, which goes somewhat against the whole notion of the event.

A piece of paper
A piece of paper.
16/9/2005 - Red Tape Galore

We had a real cliffhanger with our visa extensions. As you know, last month we went to Chennai to apply for replacement passports. Terry's passport arrived after about two weeks, but mine was more stubborn. By September 5th, I was fretting, since our drop-dead date was the 17th, a Saturday, after which we would be illegal, and in principle subject to a fine and/or imprisonment!

I phoned the consulate in Chennai, and the woman there said she'd phone Delhi to find out what was going on. Several days passed, with no news. I pestered, and was finally given the phone number of the appropriate person at the High Commission in Delhi. He, CJ Singh, seemed to have a better understanding of the urgency of the situation. But then there was something wrong with the passport making equipment, and the final result was that the passport did not get courierred out of Delhi until the 14th - stress, stress, stress. Thank you CJ.

So on the Wednesday evening, to try to get the process jump started, I took the piece of paper Terry had been given to our local police station, to get out address certified. A man was sent off with me to view the apartment and to determine that it seemed likely that we lived there. Then we returned to the police station - so far so good. But then they realized that it was Terry's piece of paper, and asked why she had not come. I explained that I'd assumed they could do both of us from the one piece of paper, since we lived at the same place. But no! Terry had to come, and I had to have a piece of paper of my own. Thursday morning there was still no passport, although it was in transit.
So we both went back to the police station to get Terry done. It then transpired that the address the people at the FRO had written on the piece of paper, was not the same as our address. This caused a good deal of humming and haring, and eventually the station officer - one of Bangalore's Assistant Police Commissioners - had to dictate an annotation to be written on their report explaining that the requested address was spurious. Finally he signed it, and we went home.

Then I started to track down the passport. According to the courier company, it had arrived in Bangalore, and had been sent out to the local distribution point on Cambridge Road, close to where we live. I phoned them, and they said it was on it's way, and would be there in ten minutes. Now an Indian ten minutes can be quite long, so after half an hour or so, I tracked down the place and went on my bike to see what was going on. They said it had already been delivered, and showed me an undecipherable signature. Who, I asked - security, they said. So I go home, and find that the security guard has it, but has just put it in the guardroom desk drawer. I don't know when he was thinking of delivering it!

At last, then, I'm in business, I can go to the FRO with the new passport, and get my piece of paper to take to the police station. I arrive there at about 2:30, which is about right since they take quite a long lunch hour, and find the man who looks after people from the UK. He says I'll have to wait, because the Assistant Police Commissioner (Intelligence) is not in his office at the moment, he's in Mangalore, and won't be back until about 3:30. At four, he phones in to say he won't make it that day. So everything has to be done in the morning.

We get up at the crack of dawn, and check all our papers. Then we go into work, to make sure my boss Sushanth is getting his bits and pieces together. These have to be on stamped paper, and notarised, so Ishmael is sent out to the bank to get the stamped paper. We take ourselves off to the FRO. By about 11:00, the Assistant Commissioner has given the go-ahead, and I have the papers to fill in, and the magical piece of paper for the police station.

We split up. Terry goes to the nominated bank to pay the extension fees and get the required receipt, and I go back to the Ulsoor police station. This is a bit of a haul, since the actual Ulsoor police station, just down the road from where we live, is being refurbished, and they are camping out at Domlur. I get there, and the process goes reasonably smoothly. Eventually the Assistant Police Commissioner there, signs my paper. I discover in the process, that this is not just an address certification. It's also a good conduct report, and if you don't get a good one, you don't get a visa extension. Given that there's a woman in our building who has it in for us, or probably for foreigners in general, and who complains about everything (not just us), he warned that we should watch our step.

Then I'm off back to fill in my papers, get the stuff from Sushanth notarised at the court house on MG Road, and back to the Police Commissioners office. On the way we go to a photocopy shop to get a zillion copies of everything we haven't already got copied. We hand the stuff off - half an inch of paper - to the guy who deals with the UK, and the guy who deals with the US respectively. Fortunately both of them seemed to be in a good mood. After half an hour they'd checked everything, and we'd made the minor corrections that were necessary, and added photocopies that were missing. Then we have to get them signed by the Assistant Police Commissioner (Intelligence). He is in and out because there's some sort of flap going on, and he keeps getting called to his boss's office. Eventually he stands still long enough for us to get the papers in front of him, and he signs.

The final act of the saga takes place at the "single window", a counter in a room round the corner from the main FRO office. There we hand over our papers, and get a computer printed receipt to the effect that our extensions are applied for. The papers go to the Karnatake State Government to be authorized, and should be back in about a month.

I am physically and emotionally drained. I finish off a couple of things that needed to be done at work, and Terry and I retire to the Night Watchman for a welcome beer. Thank god it's Friday!
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