i let out a brief sigh of relief when i booked my plane ticket a few weeks ago. ‘finally’, i thought to myself. ‘ain’t nothin’ left to leaving but the gettin’ on.’
famous. last. words.
to say the last two weeks were stressful would probably be the understatement of the century. it started off with an email from BLS International, the company the Indian Embassy outsources their visa requests to. yes, you read that correctly, and no, that’s not a joke. even i couldn’t write something that ironic. the email stated i had completed the incorrect visa application form, and that they would be returning my entire application packet via the mail. this was on the 11th, nine days after i had mailed it to them in Chicago. knowing i was leaving on the 29th, i immediately called them, and after explaining my reason for the call, the conversation went something like this:
me: so, since I’m concerned i may not get my visa back in time if i have to resend everything by mail, is there any way you can keep my documents and i can either fax or email you the correct application form?
BLS worker: no sir. we can’t do that.
me: and why is that?
BLS: that’s not our policy.
me: is there any way you can make an exception?
BLS: no sir. that’s not our policy.
me: i understand. is there any way to expedite my application when i send everything back to you? again, i’m concerned my passport and visa won’t be returned to me in time for my travels on the 29th.
BLS: no sir, we can’t do that.
me: really? why’s that?
oh wait, let me guess: that’s not your policy.
BLS: that’s not our policy.
so realizing a visa into India wasn’t going to happen, i called Indigo Airlines in India, the budget airline i used to booked a flight from Delhi to Kathmandu. while i was hoping to spend a few days in Dehli, no visa means no India. luckily, much to my surprise, changing my flight to Kathmandu was easy. paying for the changes, on the other hand, wasn’t. six skype calls to Indigo, four calls to my credit card, and about an hour and a half online trying to pay for my flight change fees all over a four day period, i’ve resorted to ordering rupee from my bank and paying for the changes in person at the airport in Delhi upon my arrival. i’m told i can do this, but i’m taking a huge leap of faith on this one – i’m just out of all other options. add all that to a really good but long five day sale at the shop working bell to bell, and i was running ragged.
so arriving to the airport in MKE this morning, (or…was it yesterday morning? wait. what the hell day is it??) i was a bit nervous. and by a bit, i mean i was really thinking they wouldn’t let me fly without a visa. but a great conversation with my dad on the drive down helped a bit to calm me down, and before i knew it (after ten agonizing minutes mind you), the ticking agent said the six magic words i was hoping to hear: “your booked all the way through.” and despite a hiccup in Chicago with my original boarding passes, my pal Joe, a flight attendant who just happened to be landing from his Germany flight at the same time i was at O’hare, was able to help get things sorted. after a nice chat over dinner with him and a few last minute calls to say some quick goodbyes, i was off.
currently, i’m in Abu Dhabi, having just got off the overnight long haul flight from Chicago. i was able to sleep most the way over, and scored some great food from a super nice attendant who snuck me some fruit and food from the crew stash / business class menus. super awesome. lesson there? never underestimate the power of a simple hello. in about an hour, i’m off to Delhi and ultimately KTM by tomorrow. i’m excited to get back out the the orphanage; to see how much things have changed, how the boys have grown. but i’m also looking forward to the familiar things – the smells, sipping tea on the front step in the morning, hearing the children’s laughter. i have no expectations, rather an open mind and a hope to make a few people smile.