Visa escapades in Jan and March

Here’s an update on my visa situation. Be prepared it’s a long one!

I’ve been based here for nine years. I’ve set up a tourism business for Manjula to ensure she has a secure income.

The first mention of a little local difficulty was Here where I give credit where it’s due

The story starts when entering Bangalore Airport in August (after five weeks in U.K.) I was questioned by FRRO/immigration. They let me in but insisted I register with the FRRO on arrival in Mysore. I did. I’m a bit confused as to why.

Anyway, I registered.

So in October, I get a phone call from Anant, one of the original Directors of the company. He’d been contacted by the FRRO (police/immigration) in Bangalore with a whole series of questions. They were investigating me.

Subsequently they wrote to the very local police station asking them to contact me and get documents and a statement. They were focusing on the fact that I’d ‘wilfully’ not registered at the mysore FRRO each time I’d come back into the country.

I wrote a statement saying that if I had to register and hadn’t it was purely a mistake. I also explained Manjula and I had got married earlier this year, the company was set up for her, I wasn’t employed by the company and received no remuneration. They subsequently asked for my tax returns which I couldn’t supply as there were none as I wasn’t employed and had no income. Get it? 🙃

So as of last week.

I was due to fly to Sri Lanka for my first ever visa run. The time between my arrival in August and the next time in the U.K. was over 180 days so I had to leave the country by the end of Jan.

So what could go wrong?

The day before I was due to leave the Mysore FRRO telephoned and asked me to come in. It was the same helpful chap featured here

Bangalore had informed him, they had decided that I was on the wrong visa.

Sugar!

It was presumably because of the low level of investment/turnover in the business. It’s a small business predominantly for Manjula so doesn’t earn much money and doesn’t require much investment, just some furniture and cycles.

Sugar, this is a real problem. If I leave the country as planned they will not let me back in……

This is a critical time for us.

It’s our busiest time with just a few days with hardly any guests so my plan has been to nip out and rush straight back. Also Manjula had not been well, because of a recurring problem (more later) so I was essentially holding it all together (that’s juggling all the stuff, preparing rooms, making breakfast, leading cycle tours. ( I know, I know violins are playing, but I’m a man, multi tasking is NOT easy) thankfully there was the help of our two cleaners and a Special mention for Tom, Amy, Anne and Dave and of course the forbearance of my panicking – will he get back in- wife.

I’ve just got to go. It’s now or never but it can’t drag on.

What to do?

I feel like I’m appearing in Fawlty Towers and Keystone cops! here I come 🙃

The great guy at the police commissioners gave me an option. Apply for an x (aka entry) visa as a spouse. Great idea. I wonder how long would this take? I just can’t be away from home and Manjula for more than a few days. It doesn’t seem feasible.

I’d planned to fly out of Mysore to Chennai, then onto Colombo on the friday (next day) and back on Sunday. Tickets were bought, small bag packed. Eek.

Tom had a solution: Get a tourist e visa to get back in. I applied on the Thursday, it would take 72 hours to be processed, I flew out on the Friday due back on the Sunday but wouldn’t expect to get the visa until Monday so would forego the flights and dash back as soon as I got the visa. Then I would fly in to Chennai where I’d hope they’d let me in.

Phew. Sounds like a good idea. An Indian solution.

I apply and I’m off….

So it’s Saturday and this trip has proven to be one mishap after another. More details here.

After a day walking aimlessly in Colombo I had supper ( no micro breweries) and headed back to the hotel with my sea view from the balcony.

You know, sometimes things just work out. It’s a hallmark of India. On getting back I get an email confirming my e tourist visa. Wonderful! Not only has it arrived it’s in time for me to go back as planned on the Sunday using the tickets I’d bought!

So what was Sri Lanka like? Loved it. As they say it’s India lite. More later.

Back in our piddling little airport. Yes we walk from the plane.

Next.

I go and get an x visa in March in Sri Lanka when we’re not busy and hopefully Manj is feeling better.

Oh no I won’t.

It’s now March and I’m just heading back to Sri Lanka for a few days. I have a second e tourist visa that will see me through to May when I return to the U.K. and I’ll get an X visa.

Confused?

I just wonder what form the U.K. itself will take in May.

Credit where it’s due.

I have here a piece of paper….

Neville Chamberlain’s infamous attempt of appeasement with hitler.

Well I also have my own piece of paper.

Here it is….

ok it’s nothing like the first one.

On my return to India in August I was pulled aside by the immigration officers.

It seems that there has been a rule change and I was told in no uncertain terms what it is! (Maybe that’s the link, the current govt is definitely changing things for immigrants, ring any bells?) I’m here on a five year, multiple entry business visa which means I have to leave the the country every 180 days but can come straight back. At first I was uncertain. Does the rule change mean I can only stay a max of 180 days in any one year (in which case I’m very worried) or that if I go over 180 days in one year I have to go register with the police?

Anyway, it seems that if I stay over 180 days in the same year I have to register with the Police. But here’s where the credit comes in….. The FRRO the bit of the Police Commissioners office where one registers were superb. First off, I made a mistake with the form and the documents with an hour to go before the deadline, they sent me off to a chap to sort it out at little cost. Then once completed and an extra letter explaining the situation within a week I got my paper, my residential permit. Hooray!.

I once had to do something similar when I had an employment visa. It was one of those, go to about five different offices, provide duplicate forms, pay different lots of money, fetch receipts, hundreds of photos, wait endlessly…. now just one form and documents submitted online and take copies to the office, nothing more not even a fee, thank you Mr Kumar, job well done.

Let’s just hope the immigration officers are half as helpful when I next try to get in the country.

Despicable

Who makes monsters?

We do, partly, through acceptance, encouragement and reinforcement

It’s also actually how we make nice people.

It’s the process of

Clarifying and confirming what is and isn’t acceptable that helps creates and forms patterns of behaviour that is our culture(S). Evidence of this might be reflected in the whole organisation or society, community or just one of its sub sets.

So what’s brought this on?

Men in India who rape and/or murder because they can.

It’s an expression of power over others, reflects a degraded system, where there are few societal or personal restraints with limited accountability and recourse.

I wouldn’t want to colour a whole nation and it’s culture from individual incidents. After all I love this place and it’s people because it’s so open, friendly, easy-going, accepting contradiction, paradox and incredible diversity BUT there are limits.

This must however be seen, and highlighted as completely unacceptable. If we don’t, we’re also monsters.

We should hang our heads in shame.

Those in power whether politicians, police, whoever they, have a heavy responsibility to ensure their words, actions, inactions do not encourage or condone or create the monsters in our midst. Unfortunately the increase in these actions is also a consequence of political movements.

Here’s a link to the story

Stairway to heaven

Stairway to heaven….

I think not!

But it is a new beginning.

We know there are many of our friends in India and around the world looking forward to hearing about our latest tussles with the bureaucracy.

So here it is….

We’ve taken the big friendly giant (BFG) step and now fully registered Mysore Bed and Breakfast with the Police, the City Corporation and the Karnataka State Government. It’s been an absolute ‘joy.’ Yes, really 😉

If you like to see ‘the big picture’ first check the one at the bottom.

Step One

Visit: The Police Commissioner, followed by the local Police Station, to get a letter saying Manjula is a cool chick. No no no…. to show there are no objections ie. she’s a great character, has no record and the Police and neighbours have no objections.

Please note we’re saving you the agony by missing out 90% of the actual experience of visiting and managing the differently organised police service.

Step Two

ok, so you’ve got your ‘get out of jail free’ card, or your statement saying there’s no objection. Now collect up your documents: rental agreement, letter from owner agreeing to you using the house as a homestay, receipt for payment of tax.

Go to the office.

Then sort out the mistakes: redo rental agreement (letter not good enough) and pay extra tax. Spend two weeks trying to meet up with the officials, get letter typed up, and on and on and on… you just wouldn’t believe it…

is it incompetence, ‘we don’t care’ attitude or an intentional wind-up?

Step Three

The registration with the Karnataka Government was relatively straight forward. Complete the online form, upload the documents provided by the Police and City Corporation and rental agreement. Pay the bill, electronically or face the ordeal of going to a state bank queuing up, paying in cash or bankers daft, getting a receipt, scanning it in, uploading it. Forget that option! paid-up…. We now await the visit of the inspectors.

Step Four

Register on line with the Police to have foreigners come and stay and complete the online Form C within 24 hours of each foreigner who comes to stay. We’ll provide more details of this wonderful…. time consuming employment creation ordeal…. later to enable me (Stephen) to fully flaunt my Yorkshire sarcasm.

So we’ve done it. The team has arrived at the top step, we’ve had our highs and lows, we’ve learned to laugh and cry, we’ve met formidable obstacles, gone with the flow, we’ve sunk our flag in the hallowed ground. It’s taken time, almost a year, we’ve grown as a team and Manjula has made it happen. Phew!

She’s a star!

Next…. we’ll we do it all again next year.

The big picture

The A team includes:

Manjula, aka the boss, on point, who has traipsed around all the offices, made endless phone calls, been endlessly put off, turned up at the key offices to find the ‘houdini’ *official/policeman/Babu/patriarch (*delete as appropriate) has disappeared…. gone for lunch, on holiday, maybe hiding in the toilet, who knows? She gets a gold star for determination, fortitude, strength, with just a little innocence in the mix. madam has seriously been through it all!

Akram, auto driver extraordinaire, helping Manjula face the torture, mysticism and labyrinth workings of the Mysore City Corporation, and hiding outside when she faced the officials of the police commissioners office or the helpful smiley chaps at the local Police Station. To be fair he’s an auto rickshaw driver, rightly with an innate fear of coming into close contact with the constabulary.

Vidya and Tanu. Our knight-ettes in shining armour. Being Manjula’s counsellor, advocate, comforter, advisor and support in dealing with the Police.

Stephen, The clerk, computer operator, form filler, recorder and scribe. He lurks in the background. In the belief that to show his pale face will significantly add to the costs of said registration process.

 

Thank you for your invaluable help!

new journey

imagewe’re setting out on a new journey…. after the wonderful experience last year (Note English sarcasm) ..to firstly ensure that Manjula’s various IDs were accurate and consistent with name, gender, address, date of birth ( it took, four months), then the ‘reality game’ of applying for a passport (two more months) and being knocked back a couple of times (the board game of these tangles with bureaucracy will be in shops soon) then to top it all we applied for a TOURIST (yes just for a holiday) visa from the UK Government just at the time of some insignificant Vote or other (Brexit aka Biscuit idiotic referendum) only to be summarily rejected (Brit Govt is fast on its rejections, three weeks total) and applying again with an avalanche of papers (two weeks)… for you dear reader, what feels like lifetime’s experience compressed into six months has already been documented on these pages. Some of you may remember it .. well this new journey is…. wait for it…. an application to register as a Homestay with the Karnataka Government.

IMG_1428in my English wistful sort of way I think it will be very straightforward and probably a damn sight easier than a similar process in the UK.

lets see

background is we’ve been operating on the same basis as an AirBnB property but this year the Karnataka Govt has introduced a new rule and that means everyone has to register with them.

As I say let’s see, first step following the ‘critical path’ , let’s find out what’s required 🙂

A day in the life of….

Manjula’s Mysore


What a mix.

Life goes on in the odd tapestry of India!

Manjula’s tailor friend may have found a prospective husband. For her daughter. Current view is 90% likely. Check.

Mangala, our main cleaner (Narianappa her father and our gardener has recently died. Check previous outings) No longer has her father to represent her interests with her useless husband. He doesn’t work, lazes about and demands money for drink. Well she got to the end of her tether so beat him up. The girls are now laughing as he hobbles around with the help of a stick and moans about his bruises.

As Kamlama is now somewhere in Coorg, check Manjula has found a new cleaner. We need to have absolutely trustworthy staff, not least because I leave things around the house but of course we have many guests who must feel comfortable sharing our home. Well Manjula decided to test her and left some money out which promptly disappeared. Next day Manj asked her if she’d seen it and Mangla (yes same name as other cleaner) professed no knowledge about it. So ‘soft cop’ Manjula informs poor young girl that there are CCTV camera in the house that the boss aka ‘hard cop’ (yes that’s me, unlikely as it might seem) will check the computer when he gets back from abroad. Miraculously, as you might expect, poor girl finds it under the fridge! I’m just an observer in these things and don’t condone any particular methodology but we have to work out the best we can in the circumstances.

A friend of M’s mother has died so she’ll get over to pay her last respects who will be laid out outside the house and take to the Chamundi Hill bottom where there’s a field for the funeral pyres.

We have Indian guests from Delhi and Chennai this weekend and will all gather for dinner at Hotel Roopa this evening.

Good friend Vinay reckons I’m a closet BJP supporter. I don’t eat beef,  love India and now have a lotus tattoo.

img_2148
I don’t! I’m not!

And finally


Lucy just hangs around. I thought it was because she missed me during my trip to the UK. Far from it, it’s just too bloody hot. Manj wants AC and demands to go away for months next year!

Hang on…. she must have got the vibe and


Now wants a walk

the not so local (part 2) the Englishman moves back home

Indian ex-employee rescues British boss from destitution.

Len’s story continues and here’s a statement he’s issued…..

An Englishman, who’s been living and working in India for over 20 years has been wholly dependent on his income from London, UK, which unexpectedly stopped. Len Bailey, who is 75 years old and with mobility difficulties, would have been homeless and destitute if his previous employee hadn’t found him accommodation, food and enough money to see him through.

Len says: “ I was completely stuck. No money coming from the UK which I needed to go to London and sort out and the Police refused to provide a ‘letter of release’, to enable me to leave the country.”

Len first visited India over 45 years ago and subsequently set-up businesses providing employment and expertise in the construction industry. More recently having designed and developed chipper technology to sustainably use palm fronds as part of agro waste recycling.

Len adds: “ I had applied for visa and extensions as required via the local police and to Delhi but there had been no refusal, or rejection, just nothing, no response. Now, I need to get back to London to be able to sort out my affairs”

The Police had refused to provide an exit visa or ‘letter of release’ and are now demanding a penalty payment. The UK High Commission were unable to help.

img_0669His ex-employee realising that Len might be destitute and with real concern for his general health and welfare has now made arrangements to pay the penalty set by the Police. This penalty was for Len having continued to live here with an expired visa and with Delhi not issuing an extension.

Once the Police have done the needful and sorted out the paperwork Len will be able make haste back to London to re-establish his income.

img_0667Len, here saying farewell to his Doctor, is now back in the U.K. Having been picked up by a relative at the airport.

Who knows what the future holds…

Len leaves behind a close knit group of friends and numerous families he has helped practically and emotionally over the years.