For a long time, I thought the problems associated with getting an American visas was mainly for Indians. Today, I met someone at a Lebanese restaurant near Marble Arch. (It’s called Maroush III. There are at least a couple of other Maroushs in the area.) He’s a consultant, and has been travelling around the globe for over 20 years.
He recently flew from Boston to Bangalore. Without a visa. Why? Because he would be issued a visa at the port of entry, of course. Stands in the queue. Hands his passport to the officer. The officer leafs through the pages. Halts. Studies each page very carefully. Gets puzzled.
“Where is the visa?”
“I don’t have one. So please issue me on.”
At this, the official is startled. “Come this way, please.” And they go into a room in some corner. Left alone for a while. Two officials come back with lots of forms.
While patiently filling the forms, one of the officials says, “You’ll have to go back, you know?”
There must have been a faint smile as he said it. “No, you’re just kidding me!”
“No, no. You must go back on this flight to London.”
Disbelief. “Ha, ha! Quite funny. You’re just pulling my leg. Now, just give me a visa.”
“No, really. You must return by this flight immediately.
Having travelled for 16 hours from Boston, he heads back to London spending another 8 hours on the flight.
He is, incidentally, the only person I know (Indian or otherwise) who would have to tick “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been refused entry at the port of disembarkation?”
P.S. He DID get an Indian visa later. It was a painless process — apply in the morning, collect in the evening.