India Pull Your Finger Out, Pt. 2
The second half of my award-winning miniseries “India Pull Your Finger Out”, (Part 1) concerns the amount of time I’ve had to wait for things to happen/get done in order to feel, finally, fully settled into Delhi, beginning from the Visa.
In chronological order:
- Getting my contract and letter of undertaking from the newspaper (vie email) so I could apply for a visa: 2 weeks
- Visa Application: 7 days (but this was knowing someone on the inside)
- Registering to the FRRO – 13 days (I had 14 days to do it, but was held back as I needed a specific letter from the office, who dithered).
- Finding a house: over one month. This is greatly variable, depending on needs and the landlords one encounters. As I’ve said before though, this is a huge minefield of stroppy, self-entitled home owners.
- PAN Card – 10 days. This is surprisingly fast considering the bureaucracy involved, but then, it allows the Indian government to tax me, so no surprise. However, I had to wait about three weeks before the office said ‘Yeah, sure we’ll help!’ one time too many.
- Setting up the internet – 5 days. Good job!
- Getting a phone bill – One week. Less of a good job. This is crucial to get a
- Bank account, including card and PIN – this took about two and a half weeks because ‘Chennai had a holiday’ (where the bank’s main office is) and this had a knock-on effect on the entire process.
- Getting my first cheque once the PAN number was sorted – about 10 days.
- Getting my second cheque – it was issued with about 3 days delay, and then it was mailed to me (despite my request to collect it in the office), which took the courier an extra week, including an hour of full-on shouting on the phone in both English and Hindi.
Some of these things can overlap, as I’ve found, and if I were to do it all again (godforbid), it would conceivably take less than 10 weeks to finally ‘settle in’. Having said that, 10 weeks is, I think, not a bad time to be comfortable in a totally foreign country with a not-very-welcoming bureaucracy. The real frustration comes at the fact that not only these things could take a lot less time were they handled with some alacrity, they also consistently break the deadlines set by themselves. For example, the first time the courier attempted a deliver, he said he would be there ‘tomorrow by 5pm’. At 6.20, he apparently showed up at the house.
Time runs at a strange pace here.