Some advice if you decide to travel to India – start your visa application a couple of weeks in advance. In theory, it can be done simply and quickly online. In practice, not always so! What a mess this is! I flew home from Toronto 2 days early in order to take care of this in person.
After lack of online success, we showed up at the visa application office in the basement of a building downtown. They said we must complete an online form, which is slightly different from the one I tried. They can’t do it for us: we must. So we went next door to Starbucks for coffee (I was seriously sleep-deprived) and wifi but I couldn’t connect to the secure site. So, the last resort before I decided to cancel the whole trip was a nearby news agent/smoke shop the woman the visa company hinted might be an alternative.
In the smoke shop around the corner an enterprising Korean guy sells the usual multitude of things, has ATM, computer, photocopier, drycleaning dropoff, clothing alterations, key cutter, phone cards, lottery terminal, passport photo maker, TV on news channel, etc., etc. There is even a coat hook conveniently place for people to use when they sit down for passport photos. He typed all of our data on his computer, reading off our passports, asking questions, entering parents’ data, hotel address, conference info, etc., etc.
While we waited and he entered data there was a stream of customers for smokes, gum, passport photos, printing, etc. A Colombia guy came in for an ID photo but didn’t speak English so I translated. The guy was doing all of this by himself until his wife arrived about half an hour later. He finished it up, printed out the form we needed to take back to the visa application office. What a picture of efficiency!
Charge: $6.00 each.