I’m not what they say I am, except I sort of am

Things were humming along with our travel plans for India and Nepal in April. Still having some trouble booking airline tickets. While I was successful in booking one flight on a website, the next day that very same airline wouldn’t accept my credit card. (And it’s not because my credit card company is looking out for me, I checked.) Another airline offers a great rate on their own website as well as on Orbitz, but when I select the flight, I’m told it does not exist.

However, the greater peeve has to do with our visas. I filled out our applications and sent them to the outsourcing company in San Francisco that processes the info and passes it along to the consulate. I got a call asking me to define just what kind of “writer” I am, because they want to make sure I’m not a journalist. Nooo problem. They sent me a form. And since I no longer work for a newspaper, I went ahead and circled the box that said “No, I am not a journalist.”

I got a confirmation email that the applications for our multiple-entry tourist visas were passed along and on Monday the Fed-ex envelope was waiting on our doorstep. I took out our passports and looked at the pretty stickers, feeling so proud of my efficiency.

But wait. Mine says, Type: J, No. of Entries: S, and Rob’s says, Type: T, No. of Entries: M.

Now I’m no investigative reporter, but I had a hunch that the letters translated to Journalist, Single; Tourist, Multiple. Seeing as we had planned to stay one night in Delhi before heading to Kathmandu, this posed a slight problem, since with a single-entry visa, I might have a little trouble crossing back over the Indian border from Nepal.

Here’s where the logic of the situation is inversely proportional to my level of frustration. The outsourcing company says, “Yeah, the consulate gives single-entry journalist visas to all writers, actors and artists.” Why? They didn’t say.

I said, “But everything you sent me confirming my application said multiple/tourist.” And they said, “That’s what you applied for, but it’s up to the consulate’s discretion what they issue.”

Can I appeal? Explain that I am not a journalist at all? Never mind what my master’s degree says.

No.

What if I’d put “information officer” on the form? Would that have slipped through? Rob’s said he is a “corrections officer.” It’s only a one-word difference. And how much sense does it make to give two people obviously traveling together two different types of visas?

We may never know. But I went ahead and canceled the hotel reservation in Delhi and booked the earliest flight to Kathmandu. Assuming our first flight is on time (for the first time ever, I’m hoping for a 5-hour delay), we will be spending approximately 10 hours in the Delhi airport. Instead of resting from our travels in a nice hotel room.

Although there are alleged plans to “modernise” the international terminal, and maybe we can pay $20 for a little “retiring room,” all the Internet will confirm is that the Indira Gandhi International Airport won the 2006 Poopy Airport Award.

Pretty sure the flight to Kathmandu leaves from the same terminal where our flight from Chicago arrives. But I plan to worry between now and about 9 p.m. April 11 (India time) about whether they’re going to stamp my passport on my way to the gate.