Visa

The website gave the embassy’s address as being on a residential street in a suburb ten minutes out of town. I drove out there on a lunch break from work. The embassy looked like any other house on the street but the gate was shut. Perhaps I had got the opening hours wrong. I looked but couldn’t see a bell.

I returned to work and called the embassy.

“Hello,” an accented voice answered.

“Hi, I was wondering whether the embassy is open today?”

“Oh yes, we are open today,” the voice replied.

“Oh because I drove past and the gate was closed,” I said.

“That is no problem, you can come in ok.”

“Thanks, I’ll be back later,” I said and hung up.

I left work early to return to the embassy. This time the gate was open. I walked up the drive and knocked at what I took to be the front door. There didn’t appear to be any security. After a short interval a young man with dark hair, a moustache and an immaculate suit opened the door.

“Hello?”

The man looked surprised and I felt like I had just knocked at a stranger’s door. Behind him I could see that the inside, like the exterior also resembled a normal suburban house.

“Hi, I’ve come to apply for a visa,” I said.

“Ah yes, of course, please do come in,” he replied.

I followed him down a hallway into what looked like the lounge. An open plan kitchen opened onto the room and in it another man was making a cup of tea. On the wall were a few framed posters and on a sideboard there was a desultory collection of pamphlets.

“Please wait here,” the younger man instructed and disappeared.

A short time later a third man, older this time appeared from an office and greeted me. He was thicker set but had the same suit, dark hair and moustache. I wondered if he might be the ambassador.

We shook hands but he didn’t introduce himself. Instead I handed him the sheaf of forms and papers plus the cheque I had brought with me. He leafed through them hmming to himself.

“This tour operator is not licensed I think,” he said when he saw the name of the tour company I had put down as my sponsoring party. I leant forward and showed him the facsimile from the company showing their license. He looked at it disinterestedly and hmmed some more to himself.

“Yes, this is all you will be needing,” he said after a long pause.

“How long do you expect it will take for the visa?” I asked.

“Oh not too long,” he replied smiling vaguely.

“If possible I would like to have it by next week,” I said.

He smiled again and said “oh that should not be a problem, next week or the week after.”

Three days later my passport arrived back in the mail with the visa inside. I was going to Pakistan.

Three days later my passport arrived back in the mail

Three days later my passport arrived back in the mail

 

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