Yep, that’s right folks – if it’s Sunday morning we’re back at the Indian Embassy in Tehran, ever hopeful that they’ll shift into gear and organise our visas as time is rapidly running out.
We caught a taxi down to the embassy and got there just after 09:10am, and were surprised to find the visa section open as the embassy website advertises open hours of 10:00am – midday.
The waiting room was sparsely populated this morning – a stark contrast to our previous experience, and familiar with the system we queued up at the first window to be logged in, then queued up at the second window, directly behind a young Italian guy applying for his visa. He has previously lived and worked in Finland, China and India in his work associated with student support services, and was hoping to go work in India again.
We chatted with the Italian guy for a while, and a young Iranian lady – the only one I’ve seen here in Iran to have facial piercings – a bold statement in such a conservative society.
We didn’t have to wait too long before we were served – and were then told to wait another 30 minutes as some discussion was required. A while later we were instructed to queue up waiting for admittance to the inner sanctum – the waiting room we’d been in previously, and eventually we were summonsed to see the senior visa officer.
He offered us visas for air travel which we politely declined, and then Karen launched into a passionate description of our travels, and our need for the visas. The visa officer was quite taken with our stories and was impressed when we showed him some photos of our motorbike – fully loaded with gear and 2 x spare tyres, and with Karen wedged in behind me – and he disappeared upstairs to seek approval whilst we waited again in the waiting room, but ten minutes later he stormed into his office and slammed the door shut – the body language did not bode well.
A few minutes later one of his minions came out and told us that approval was still required from New Delhi, and that we should return in two days time. How frustrating – we knew that approval from New Delhi was required a fortnight ago and still no answer has been received.
Back at our hotel we mapped out our next moves – we’ll return to the embassy tomorrow to get an update, and we’ll be ready to escalate our case to New Delhi ourselves if necessary. We also put out an SOS to the Horizons Unlimited New Delhi community – perhaps they have some magic oil we can grease the embassy’s immovable wheels with.
Dinner was enjoyed at the Tehran Chinese Restaurant – the food was good as always and the staff there pleased to see us return, and then it was early to bed, with Sjaak Lucassen again waxing lyrically from the DVD player. We’d hoped for a restful sleep as last night sleep was difficult to come by, unfortunately this evening proved no better. The stress caused by this ongoing wrangle with the embassy never leaves us.