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March 15, 2008

Bureaucratic games ....

Yesterday's trip to London was an interesting experience. Firstly, having followed the web site times for applying for and collecting a Visa to visit a middle eastern state, I turned up at the Consulate at 10.45 only to be turned away again because "visas can only be applied for between 12.30 and 15.30". And no, you can't wait in the waiting room .....

So I found a quiet cafe and had breakfast (to get there as early as I had meant leaving home at 07.00 in order to get an early train which meant not being able to get a cheaper fare ...) and reviewed and got the missing details for my application sorted out. Eventually I returned to the Consulate fortified and armed with the form, correctly filled in, photos and all the other items demanded of visitors to the country concerned. Now there was a queue. I joined this queue in order to get a queueing number to join the visa queue. Ahead of me was a young lady, training she told me at Oxford to become a doctor. She was bareheaded, her blonde hair on view. An elderly man, obviously official, approached and informed her that she could not enter the Consulate without a headscarf. As the queue wasn't moving I suggested she nip round the corner to a shop that sold suitable items and get herself one and that I would keep her place. She hadn't realised that once across the threshold of an embassy or consulate you are technically in the country of that embassy .... So, off she dashed to return about fifteen minutes later (the queue hadn't moved so I let her back into the row ahead of me), her head now suitably covered in a rather heavy cashmere type scarf. I wish her well of her trip, no doubt she will discover a great deal about religious bigotry once she gets there.

Having got the ticket I now went downstairs as directed to make the application, joined a queue there only to be told, on arrival at the window, that I should have been upstairs - so back up the stairs, find the right queue (fortunately my number had not yet come up!) and waited. Eventually I managed to get my application in and was told - OK, come back Tuesday at 16.00. Aaaargh! Aother trip to the cesspit! Could they not do a "same day" service I asked as I live some distance from the said cesspit. Ah, well, OK, but it costs more. Fine - just give me the bl**dy visa.

So, at 15.35 I returned expecting to have to wait and queue again, only to have the passport and the shiny new visia returned to me immediately. Obviously as a representative of the Great Satan's ally I am fair game for these little bureaucratic games. I wonder if the rules will have changed when my colleague goes to sort his out next week? Probably, they seemed to make it all up as they went along anyway.

Still, I get paid for it ....

Posted by The Gray Monk at March 15, 2008 10:49 PM

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