Friday, March 30, 2007

What sucks?

Having an Indian passport. It just sucks. It's probably the most useless passport in the world. Because I have spent that last four hours trying to figure out the most cost effective way to plan my June trip. A bulk of my costs will end up being just visa payments if I take the route that I originally wanted to. I will never know what it feels like to travel without bureaucratic hassles, to just land up somewhere. Or to be able to travel over land in Europe without thinking about which countries come under the Schengen and which don't. And forget Europe. I even need visas to go anywhere in South-East Asia.

I am seriously considering changing my nationality.

30 comments:

Saudade said...

Believe me, the worst passport in the World is the Colombian.

Tabula Rasa said...

a close friend did just that for pretty much the same reason. she lives in london (poor thing) and has to fly all over europe consulting around, and many of these goddamned non-schengen countries would only give her a month's visa at a time. ultimately the hassle got to her and she sold out to the imperialists -- now she consoles herself with her shiny new pio card.

Rahul said...

szerlem -- many SE asian countries either don't require a visa, or have "visa on arrival" (thailand, HK, etc). Of course, you still need to pay for "visa on arrival".

In many cases it's bilateral -- India makes it hard for them so they make it hard for us. And the reason India makes it hard dates back to the 1960s/70s and our general suspicion of all things foreign. Abi recently linked to an article by Ashis Nandy that goes into this. Not so long ago, if an American professor was already in India for tourism, and you wanted him to give a seminar at your institute or university, you needed permission from the foreign ministry first. Even today, if you want to invite the guy for an extended time (or hire a foreign postdoc) you need the ministry's permission. In my field generally it comes through (even if it's time consuming), but many social scientists are simply denied. Many people, including Fulbright scholars, keen to study or work in India have been thwarted by our babus.

TR - the UK sucks too. When I lived in France I could visit nearly any European country without a visa (including Switzerland, which is not only non-Schengen but non-EU) thanks to my French residence permit. But not the UK, which is allegedly EU. I imagine, again, reciprocity applies -- other EU countries don't allow non-European UK residents to travel as they like.

Chimera said...

it is a bigger hassle once you start working, I had to go to Poland for 2 months and they kept giving me visa only for 3 weeks,was expected to travel back and forth for another visa stamping.(fortunately for me the trip got cancelled) well, the only country that we as Indians do not need a visa for is Nepal.

Antonia said...

oh am sorry to hear it...I am just about to attain doublenationality, believe me it is almost as bad as this visastuff even though they are two Schengen nationalities.
And I agree with rahul, hiring people for the university (even from inside EU), visiting professor etc is so much hassle that very few people do it. You don't need to ask the foreign ministry for permission, but for instance this visiting professor from the USA who comes for let's say six months has to do again a driving licence exam if he wants to use his foreign driving licence in the Netherlands....then again inside Europe some driving licences are accepted others not and there are lots more of such administrative and practical obstacles. Huge fuss. Hope you can sort it out and it does not spoil your journey.

General Pervez Musharraf said...

You think an Indian passport's bad?

A Pakistani one is far worse, you need to wait 10 days for a Swiss Visa to be approved. Thankfully, I tend to use my Indian one for my trips there.

niTin said...

Aww. I feel for you.
I had to go to the Über-bureaucratic Indian embassy to go to Canada.
Canada?!?

the wannabe indian punkster said...

I feel your pain.

Would it make you feel a teensy bit better if I told you that I am stuck in a similar situation now?

*cries*

s said...

i KNOW! and vietnam's succchh a rip-off! but the nationality thing.. its haaaard. I got the form (travelled ACROSS the city) only to tear it up. I have it again, buried somewhere between macro econs and dev in asia.

Szerelem said...

saudade: Oh dear. I believe you. You have my sympathies.

TR: I'm going to sell out. It's just about finding a country I wouldn't mind selling out to. But then again I really don't know...

Rahul: The HK visa on arrival is very efficient (and free) but other SE Asian ocuntries leave much to be desired. I just don't get why there's no move on India's part to try and get rid of the visas in this day and age though. I don't the revenue losses would be that significant. The UK again, as you mentioned, doesn't comply with the Schengen so many problems arise.

Swathi: I can imagine. I heard horror stories from one of my friends who had to apply for a visa to Israel for work!

Antonia: Bureaucratic fussing. Such a kill joy.

General: You have an Indian passport? *HUH*??

Nitin: Canada? Really?? And to think it's over run by Indians....but then again maybe thats why all the fuss :P

Punkster: Sigh. Join the club! Where are you travelling to?

S: Man, Vietnam is so expensive its fucking pissing off!!! The citizenship like I said is about finding a place where I don't mind being.

General Pervez Musharraf said...

Szerlem - Yes, I have an Indian passport. It's one of the perks of being CEO of Pakistan and to be fair, I was born in British India.

To find out more about me, please read my autobiography titled "In the line of fire: A memoir."

the wannabe indian punkster said...

Ireland. Specifically Belfast and Dublin. For about two weeks, in June.

Sigh.

Ali Riza ARICAN said...

Turkish passport is not better anyway... I will be in Istanbul in June. When are you coming to Ho Chi Minh City? or Are you still planning to come to South East Asia? I am here in HCMC until June... then going to Istanbul with my wife. Having great ideas to write in these days. Just finished writing a novella and started another one a few days ago... That is why my blog is frozen... Have nice trips...
Ali - rizaarican@gmail.com

TS said...

Ha ha ha ha, I just bitched about not having been out of India in your last post.

But, suddenly, for no apparent reason... I feel better.

I guess I'm just not a nice person.

??! said...

If you're going to change your nationality, try to get an Irish, Swiss, or Scandinavian passport.
They're looooved the world over - what with the neutrality, charity work, oppression, etc (not in that order).

That Armchair Philosopher said...

haha. just hang on another 5 years. all you're going to need then is your present nationality ;)

that said, if it were that simple to get things changed to an irish or a swiss nationality, we wouldn't have to face the population problem.

think about it - mass migration of some of the poorer north Indian states into the siberian or north american heartlands!

roswitha said...

i feel your pain - i only escaped the horror because i work for an american company. the bureaucracy is beyond horrifying, though.

if you did have the chance to change nationality, though, regardless of paperwork and convenience and patriotism, would you be able to pick one?

Szerelem said...

General: Ummm British India is not present day India. Right? And why does being the CEO of Pakistan make you eligible for an Indian visa??

Punkster: Ooooh. Sounds terribly exciting. Shall keep fingers crossed for you. (And you must do the same for me!!)

Ali: Ya, I know about the Turkish passport. Still trying to finalise details for Vietnam and my June trip. I need to stop being so last minute!!

TS: Nope, you are not very nice.

TAP: Haha! Yes, people do tell me that. But if all this visa trouble remains its not very good is it?

??!!: neutrality - Scandanavia and Ireland? Umm....I think I need to read up.

Ros: Well, strangely enough I have actually thought about it. And I would proably go with Swiss.

General Pervez Musharraf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
General Pervez Musharraf said...

Don't be daft, I wasn't talking about the clothing chain.

I was born in Delhi, as you'd no doubt be aware if you'd read my autobiography titled "In the line of fire: A memoir."

MockTurtle said...

You know, I sort of agree with all that, but I don't think I could ever actually do it. A friend of mine recently got his US citizenship, but just can not bring himself to go over to the consulate and surrender his Indian passport. It would be like walking out on your parents.

Tabula Rasa said...

mt:
sounds like the basis for an interesting new post (nudge nudge, wink wink)?

MockTurtle said...

Don't tempt me, Prof, don't tempt me...

vanshica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vanshica said...

sis having an Indian passport can't be that bad.Try to look at the benefits(if there are any).Neway what do u expect if u wanna travel to almost each and every place in Europe(including those tiny little unknown countries).U can't have the best of both!!!

Siddhu said...

I agree with you. An Indian passport is probably the biggest waste of space (and good paper) there ever was.

As is the Indian embassy.

-- Frustrated as hell after trying for three days to get some prick - any prick- at the Indian embassy to pick the fucking phone up or answer my calls.

anirudh said...

There is a solution to your troubles, but it costs money. In the end, you don't have to give up your Indian citizenship, and you can travel visa free to a large number of countries including the US of A, Australia, Canada and EU. Email me at anirudhsbh [at] gmail [dot] com.

Anonymous said...

As much as I'm happy being Indian, as an avid traveler, I have to throw a big FUCK YOU in the face of my passport, lions and all.

The ONLY place we can go without a visa, is Nepal. And I'd be okay with getting visas on arrival elsewhere, but nope. I have to bend over at a million different embassies.

Either the govt. needs to figure this shit out, or I'm dumping my passport for something nicer. I doubt they'd care, since it'll just knock '1' off the billion+ we have, but that doesn't change the fact that the passport still sucks donkey dick. Hell, I'll probably need a visa to do that too.

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RM said...

THE Worst passport? probably not, but don't get me wrong it is one among the worst - Indian passport is a piece of garbage. Bank statements, property proof, asset proofs, letter of invitation, pay slips, employment letter, letter from sponsor, salary certificate, travel insurance, Confirmed Flights, Confirmed Hotels - u name it, u need to lick ass to get 1 visa just because of this dick piece of booklet. Unfair it is when other folks walk through immigration to enjoy fancy vacations when you are stuck with the piece of shit Indian passport & have to plan for a visa 4 months in advance? I never asked for this garbage book, hope I can get rid of it one day by stabbing and then burning it page by page.