Last week, I flew to Beirut to spend a few days exploring the beautiful country. It sounds rather simple and easy when I say- I flew to Beirut, but I know the trouble it took me to get there!
It started long before I was going to go in to apply for the visa.
Chapter 1: Can’t Find the Passport
The tale of misadventure started even before I went to get the Visa issued. We had literally just moved houses a day ago, and I had returned from Delhi like 3 days before that- so dear mother put my passport safely. Now, whenever my mother says she put it safely- just assume it’s gone to Neverland. After a day and half of frantically opening every single box and suitcase and purse- we found it- inside one of the very nicely packed crystal-ware. At least, we found it.
Chapter 2: What will you do in Lebanon?
I thought I wouldn’t have to explain this to the consulate especially after explaining it to my parents in depth. But, when I applied for the Visa they needed a consent letter from daddy allowing me to go, his details, my details, details of my stay, tickets, hotels- the usuals. Then while submitting the papers they asked me exactly for what joy did I want to travel to Lebanon. “I want to just visit your beautiful country,” I replied.
And so the very next day I got a call saying that my visa will be rejected. I was in utter shock, and asked why. They said- if you can submit consent letter from who you’re traveling with, their details and travel documents- they might reconsider.
Dropping everything, I called my uncle and auntie, I was traveling with my family friends and their daughter- we usually take all our trips together. I requested a consent letter, passport copies for all traveling (Uncle, auntie and their daughter), travel documents. I raced to the Consulate and only to be welcomed with closed doors- it was lunch time. I begged the peon ushering everyone away to just give my papers to the kind lady inside- after much begging, he obliged.
The next day, my daddy picked up the passport- with the visa and everything.
Chapter 3: Incorrect Visa Issue Date
You know, from now onwards I’m always going to check the issue date on the visa. You think that if the consulate has issued it surely they will not put the wrong issue date? Wrong. They’re only human after all.
Misadventures and misfortune continue. With my packed suitcase and backpack full of a novel, notebook and iPad, I checked in online and ended up at the baggage drop area. The smiling lady on the desk asks to see my passport- and I happily hand it over- asking if the flight’s on time and thanking God that my suitcase is way under the weight limit. I was happy- not only because I was travelling but because this was the lightest I’d ever travelled! Yay!
She looked at me, looked again at the passport, looked at me again- this time without a smile. She informed me that the issue date for my visa was listed as 06.05.2017 instead of 06.04.2017. And that meant my visa was only valid from May 6, 2017, instead of the month earlier. Or you know, April 9, 2017- the date I was travelling. I laughed and said- it’s a human error, I’m sure it’s no problem- I mean I do have the visa. She directs her problem- i.e. me- to the information and help desk.
They call the Beirut station, several officers, Lebanese Consulate- but with no luck. An hour and a half of waiting at the Costa with my sad little coffee and packed bags I’m informed there’s no way I’ll be travelling to Beirut today. Upset and panicking, I call dear old dad- who is stunned to hear the absurdity.
No amount of begging would have helped my case. So, with a slightly cool head- I head to the booking station and request to be rebooked to tomorrow evening so I can sort my papers out during the next morning. After paying a penalty for moving dates, with a ticket for the next day, down almost a thousand dirhams, I arrive back at home.
Chapter 4: Who does that?
Hence began the bullying, the jokes and the shaking heads.
“Why wouldn’t you check the visa properly?”
“hahaha- how stupid can you be?”
“Do you ever get your visas on time?”
“Don’t you get visa on arrival?”
If I got my visa on arrival- exactly WHY would I have spent so much time running around the Consulate? Stupid questions and jokes ensued. My own brother took the piss out of me and my sorry situation. What am I saying? My own mother a week later is still laughing.
Chapter 5: Consulate again!
In all my time living out of India, I’ve been to the Indian embassy a total of 1 time- and that was only to give a university entrance exam while living in Saudi Arabia. But, to visit Lebanon for four days- I visited the Lebanese Consulate for the third time again within the week (fourth, if you include daddy collecting my passport). I go to the visa counter- it’s a different lady this time.
I tell her that my visa had the wrong issue date and if she could kindly help me. She looked at me in confusion and asked,
“When is your flight?”
“Yesterday”, I replied.
She shook her head and took my passport in the room in the back. A minute later she came back with the changed date.
Chapter 6: Finally, Beirut!
After checking and rechecking all the documents at least 10 times- I finally flew to Beirut. I was so sure that something is going to be wrong with the paperwork again. Thank god, there wasn’t. And then (finally) began the adventures in Beirut!