Tuesday, March 14, 2006


India is a wonderful country, and as the much repeated hindi phase (sub kuch milega) states: Everything is possible.

A much more accurate statement, would be - everything is possible, provided you don't mind waiting a bit.

India is the land of paperwork, red tape, and so everything takes much more time than it would anywhere else in the world.

If you've got one year to travel around, you don't mind waiting. However, if you absoliutely have to be somewhere in 2 hours, you're going to get highly frustrated.

Today's case in point:

I want to go up to the northern Andaman Islands, to see Ross and Smith, which are reported to be mind blowingly beautiful... there is one beach where you can see both the sun rise, and sunset, from the same point...

However, in spite of the fact that the government here is supposedly encouraging tourism.....

You have to take a 12 hour bus to get up there, followed by a boat for a few hours. You have to pay 500 rupees (12 dollars) for a day pass, you are not allowed to camp, and must be on the boat before sunset.

Thus, it's a lot of work, for perhaps not much reward.

The word on the street however, is that students can get entry for a mere 5 rupees - or, about 12 cents.

I tried to get my pass today.

I had to write a formal letter to some government official. Photocopies of my student ID were included, I had to specify exactly which day I'd be visiting (change of date voids the permit), and it'll take 2 days for the 4 various officers to sign my permit.

And so, to save approx 12 dollars on my permit, I have to spend 2 days in the capital city, waste my precious time, and deal with annoying pencil pushers.

No way.

I had to extend my visitor's permit today also, as they short-changed me at the airport, and gave me a week less than I should have. After about 30 mins of heated exchanges with the immigration boss, I received a hand-written permit extension.

Sweet. I can leave now.

I'll be heading an hour away, towards MG National Park. There are supposed to be some nice islands which I can visit, and hopefully, i'll come back through Port Blair in time to pickup my student permit.


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