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05/14/2013

Hunting for Nutella in Kolkata...

The first thing we did when arriving in Kolkata was to jump into a taxi and go eat rolls (the paratha roll with chicken and eggs is a local speciality) at Zeeshan at Park Circus. 

This is how we got to think of a Nutella paratha roll... An idea that wouldn’t just pass!! 

We therefore started our way back to the hotel walking and hunting for Nutella. 

 

The guy from the first stall had some! But when he asked me if I wanted india,kolkata,nutella,roll,zeeshanit in seeds or powder, I got confused... Indeed, he wanted to sell me some Nutrela (some kind of soya derivative)! 

 

The guy from the second shop had some Ferrero rochers and Kinder buenos. I could bet everything on him!  

Since he didn’t understand Nutella, I tried "chocolate paste" and his face lit up! And he handed over a tube of Colgate... (from paste he had come up with tooth paste!).

 

The guys from the third, fourth and fifth stalls did not have Nutella nor knew what it was, even in the touristic neighborhood. We therefore concluded that Nutella had not yet reached Kolkata – whether it is a good or a bad thing is not the question...  

 

So we thought of buying some chocolate and wondered how it would melt. And then we looked at each other, soaked with sweat and it hit us!! Two minutes in the ambient heat of the night and we had a chocolate spread!

04/16/2013

The Indian visa for dummies

The tourist visa:

1.     Validity: 6 months or 1 year

2.     Important: you can’t stay more than 90 days with a 1 year tourist visa!

3.     Entries: simple, double or multiple. But be careful, once you leave India, you need to wait 2 months before you are allowed to come back! (you can get a derogation from the local Indian authorities though). Apparently this rule has been lifted in December 2012 (see this site). The best is to check what is written at the bottom of the visa...

4.     Extension: can not be extended nor exchanged in India. But it is possible to extend it in another third country

 

The business visa:

 

1.     Validity: 3 months to 1 year

2.     Entries: simple, double or multiple

3.     Extension: can not be extended nor exchanged in India

4.     Important: You can’t stay more than 30 days with this visa in India!

 

The employment visa:

 

1.     Validity: 6 months or 1 year

2.     Entries: multiple

3.     Important : Can only be obtained in your country of origin, not in India

4.     Extension: You can extend it 4 times, every year, in India; after that you have to go to your home country and get a new visa (to sum up you can stay maximum 5 years in India with a visa)

5.     Condition to fulfil to be eligible: earning minimum 100 000 rupees (about 1 500 euros) per month except for ethnic cooks and translators

6.     For any change in location (moving to another city), of position (within the same company), of company, you will have to go back to your country of origin and get a new visa

7.     There is a possibility to change visa (from employment to tourist) in a third country

Important: Anyone staying more than 6 months in India has to register to the local Foreign Registration Office.

There are also other visas: journalist, student, spouse, yoga, medical etc. but I am not too aware…

 

Sources:

In India (Mumbai) : http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in/

In your country: local website of VFS Global

http://goindia.about.com/b/2012/12/03/2-month-gap-on-indian-tourist-visas-removed.htm

04/06/2013

A pilgrimage to the God FRRO (God of visas)

The other day I went on my yearly pilgrimage to the (now famous) Foreign Registration Office (FRRO for the inner circle).  

So here I drove, all the way from Khar to CST (also known as Victoria Station), near the Police Commissioner Office and Crawford market. 

I thought I had become an expert – it was my fourth renewal of my employment visa mind you – and got a bit overconfident. As a result, I had missed one paper, a new one, some form you have to fill online, and get an appointment. I had checked the website but never found the right page so I didn’t put any fight and left. 

Thinking I still stood a chance to get an appointment the same day (it was not even 11 AM), I went roaming around in Crawford Market in look for an internet café. Walking 30 minutes in the chaos of this market and under 35 degrees was a baaaaad idea… And since I am still shy, it took me a long time to gather the courage to ask someone. But it’s good I did it coz the guy was used to the visa applications (since he owns the closest internet place to the FRRO) and found the form for me!! To be downloaded here for these who need…

 

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A computer like you don't see them anymore, worth struggling to find an Intern café!

So I went back to work, slaloming between taxis, carts, people, bikes and god knows what. You name it and it is there in the streets of Mumbai… Driving and texting is not even an option here as you would kill someone within five minutes!

The next day I went back. Counter 12, ticket 3. I sat, expecting someone to come and call. I did some work on my phone and decided to go inspecting the office. Good I did so… There were only 8 counters… I asked the lady who collects payments and found out that they have converted the old computer section into more counters. And my counter was free, I could have waited long like that… Sunita (the officer in charge of counter 12) was simply sitting and chatting with an African lady! But well… 

She started dealing with my case. Now I have to say the FRRO has come a long way… From completely manual 5 years ago to completely computerised. Quite impressive.

She sent me out for 3 hours, the time to prepare the visa. I decided to walk a bit, up to Pain Quotidien in Colaba. Doing so, I got lost – but google map was there on my Blackberry! And anyway it gave me the chance to discover new things, like Starbuck (okay okay when you come to India you despise Starbuck and prefer the local chai stand in the street, but hey, a good coffee in a nice place (this one is quite stylish by the way), when you have walked 30 minutes in the Mumbai madness, it is something of a blessing! – my personal opinion).

 

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Kala Ghoda Starbuck

 

Full of Starbuck frapuccino and Pain Quotidien tartine, I walked back to the FRRO and what a walk. I had to stop every five minutes to take pictures of amazing stuff happening (pics to come in the coming days). And listening to this music:

 

 

And my visa (last and final, though not mentioned on the paper) was ready! Since I have used this visa for 5 years (with four renewals), I have to go back to France to get a new employment visa next year!!