‘Visa on arrival’ should be a two-lane traffic system
Bikram Vohra | December 6, 2014
It must be wonderful to sit behind a counter and accept and reject applications made to your country by people who want to go there and you don't particularly want them to come. The power and the glory, for a brief shining moment I am a better man than you, Gunga Din.
I am so pleased that Mr Modi has given the citizens of 53 countries the okay to pop in to India and get a visa on arrival. I am all for visas on arrival and if I was a woman I’d burn my bra in favour of this wonderful sans frontier stuff.
My only point is there should be a two lane traffic system. I want the same deal back. Mr Modi went to the US and invited every possible serial killer to join us for coffee. Cool. We are okay with killers. We are also okay with bigots and Bill Mayer. Bring them on. Then Mr Modi trotted off to Australia and that’s fine mate we love waltzing Matilda. And doing the tango, too.
Next stop Fiji. Aren’t these the same islanders who jerked the India origin population around and didn’t they have huge and vicious prejudice against our so called descendants of indentured labour. Now, we are buddies, so come on in.
And every trip he makes, the more the merrier, here you are, you and you and you. Someone better tell him slow down old son when you get to Ecuador because they have a Khalistan embassy. Ha, bet you didn’t know that. Wouldn’t that be something if we gave them a free pass?
Which is why, on this open house policy I ask why do I have to go through the same crap when I want to travel.
Like it must be so demeaning to have to make applications to travel to such countries that don't particularly want you to come because you have legitimate business but you are clubbed into one seething mass of hopefuls and penned into dank and clinical waiting rooms, your papers clasped in your sweaty little hands as you paste ingratiating little smiles on your face and try to catch the counter official's eye. But all you are is a number waiting to be called.
And if you didn't really have to go for work would you want to go through this indignity and the systematic way in which you are diminished by the inquisition and the turn of lip and the spasm of disbelief on the part of the officials on duty and the crack in your voice as you choke back the pleading undertone and try to be reasonable except that you are a number waiting to be called. The self disgust rises like dust and you don't like your cowardice because you have just dressed it up as expediency.
Nor is it anything but cold comfort to know that you are paying for the sins of the others from your country who try to misuse the laws and the courtesies and disappear into the bosom of nations that don't want them and don't need them and this you can understand and even appreciate but it doesn't balance out the charade that is played out with you as a reluctant performer with a script given by someone else.
Why do you want to go to our country?
Do you have a bank statement?
Are your nails clean?
Oh, you want to visit your son in college, which college, how long has he been studying there, do you have proof of it, show me...yessir, yessir, certainly, sir.
The verbal stripping that would be tantamount to a breach of every civilised concept of privacy.
But you have to go. And they don't want you to come. So you are just a number waiting to be called.
So much for Marshal Macluhan's global village. It doesn't exist when it comes to travel. You can take your pretty little Commonwealth shibboleths and your non aligned brouhaha and stuff it. The global village is a club and you don't have the right passport.
And as the gorge rises a little voice also tells you that logic and reason are early victims in the charade. And, as you sit there, seven numbers short of your call to the holy , a good little you rail at your country's diplomatic corps and how little clout they have exercised in fifty years and what is this pass we have come to that we have to lay bare our bona fides and face the grottiness of high suspicion.
And now you are three numbers away from Destiny's microphonic holler and this is the third day you have made this journey bailing water from a boat leaking self respect and you wonder why is it that the charade must include the massacre of time.
Your time. Why the gentle let down, the glimmer of hope, the politically correct courtesies of listening and nodding wisely and promising to look into the matter when your mind is already made up and you have no intention of passing the application.
Why not just say, go away, please, you have the wrong passport and we don't want you over.Message received loud and clear. Without resentment. It is the jerking around on a leash of assured good intentions that goes up my nose.
It must be wonderful to be a better man, to make judgement calls and then go home to dinner and playing with the kids.
And so demeaning to know you are not good enough, not rich enough ,not important enough, not equal enough.
But the Fijians who hate us are welcome.