We woke up only to find ourselves still dreaming. Then the dream turned into a nightmare.
We are not in Kolkata, but stuck in the no-mans part of the airport, just as Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal.
We did the Visa run to Kolkata as we were advised by the FRRO (Foreigner Regional Registration Office) and this time we made sure nothing could go wrong. We questioned them about all possible problems and they assured everything was fine. They showed us the new regulations which changed 13/05/2014 and said there is no reason to be denied.
We arrived at the Visa-On-Arrival desk, showed them all the documents and were prepared to move on quickly. First thing they asked was if we had a return ticket. We replied that no, and showed them the new regulations. Only a proposed onward journey is needed, which we have, so a call to their superior was made to check. ‘What is your proposed onward journey, sir?’
We told them that our proposed onward journey is that we are going land ways to Pakistan, and we showed them our valid Pakistan visa. This was a straight denial for entry into the country by their superior, on the pretence that we had no return ticket.
After some conversation I asked if we can have the visa-on-arrival if we buy tickets to Finland with their computer and they said yes, so I started to buy the tickets. Before I could finish they denied us this possibility also, stating that they will not grant us visas because we have valid Pakistani visas in our passports.
This felt quite strange as one of them had suggested that we could buy flights to Pakistan instead of Finland. Soon this possibility was denied also on the pretence that we must fly to our home country. Only minutes before Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia had been options.
Then Finland was denied because there are no straight flights from Kolkata, only through Dubai and that’s not allowed. Later on we were allowed to by straight tickets from Delhi to Helsinki, and we would have been granted the visa-on-arrival, but this too was soon denied. The law states that we must fly from Kolkata, which just is not true.
We tried to talk nicely and come up with different possibilities but not a single ear was to give us the time of day. I must state that we were kind all the way through because we have learned from Gandhi that fighting power with power is no use. We did feel anger, but we brought it out in song with the ukulele instead of negativity towards the officers. All of the staff enjoyed themselves, as did some children who had come with their family to the passport check.
‘There is no other choice, and absolutely no possibilities. You must leave the country asap.’
In the end it slipped from too many mouths, that the problem was the Pakistani visas. We knew that India and Pakistan don’t get along together and that previous visits in Pakistan might be a problem to attain Indian Visa, but we haven’t even been there yet!
Pyry in desperation to go the port to get our beloved tuk tuk offered to eat his Pakistani visa if it would make them let us pass, but to no avail. They had made the choice and will not budge. We are not to be allowed into the country.
We were given two options: 1) fly somewhere, go to Indian embassy and obtain a new Visa from there. And 2) fly somewhere and go anywhere else in the world. The latter made us feel very welcomed.
Naturally neither feels like a good choice. We just spend 600 USD to do a quick visa run to Nepal, because that what their superior, the RFFO had told us to do.
This is plain power juggling by idiots.
Pyrys’ mind went Castaway, so Juho called to the Finnish Embassy in Delhi. None of the Immigration officers were willing to talk to the Embassy on the phone, and when Juho asked for their superiors phone number to give to the Embassy, they refused to give it. Only after being adamant, Juho got the phone number, but no superiors answered. It was probably a false number.
To make things more complicated they just came up with a new rule. Apparently we have only 24 hours to leave the airport. The Last flight that we could make in the 24 hour limit, out of the country, leaves at 9.00 a.m. and that doesn’t leave much time to arrange things on the official level. We have to call their bluff.
We have a strong hunch they are bluffing since the very first thing we needed to do was to wait 2 days for the flight back to Kathmandu, because that’s where we came from and that’s where we should return to.
Pyry has now started some weird Jogic meditation and is slowly morphing into Tom Hanks. I think it’s time to go to sleep.
28/05/14 CCU International
During the night we were given permission to use the benches for sleeping, but were once again denied the use of the free blankets around us.
Pyry started to moan and look for tools to build shelter out of wreckage and I had to slap him to make him realise we were in a different movie.
Immigration staff changed shifts again and we went to ask for a possibility to buy flights to Finland to get the visas. They were baffled about the situation so at first they were ok with it. Then suddenly some officer came to say something and we were given the cold shoulder once again by all of the staff.
We went back to inquire again. One of them told us that we have to go back to Kathmandu tomorrow, another one that we have to be out of the airport in 10 hours, a third one that we could get visa-on-arrival only if we fly out of the country from Kolkata, and some said we have to go straight to Finland. All of them were adamant with their differing opinions.
One officer came and told us that we can’t have the Visa-On-Arrival because we were only ready to buy them today. If we’d have been ready to buy them yesterday everything would have been ok. We tried to explain that we tried, but once we opened our mouths he turned around and walked away.
Nobody here has any idea what the regulations are and it’s impossible to communicate with them because all they care about is abusing their power.
I feel alone and there’s no one to talk to. Pyry has started to walk along the corridors looking for crabs or something else to eat.
We heard that the secretary of the Finnish Honorary Consul in Kolkata is in the airport trying to talk to someone in charge. But this is India and the greyback seems to be out of reach at the moment.
Pyry found a cake from a box in the corridor and pieces are hanging from his beard.
No news from the Embassy as of yet.
Pyry sits still in a lotus position with his hands in the air. He’s either meditating or focusing his energy for desperate measures. He really gives me the goose bumps at the moment.
The secretary of the Finnish Honorary Consul was treated with the same respect as we were, which was none. The secretary was turned away bluntly with no reason for our denial.
We were brought to the departure lounge to have lunch and to check flights out of the country. The wifi worked for 2 minutes and then it was purposefully shut off. We asked can it be turned back on because we need to check flights etc. but we were denied the use of the wifi.
Seems like everyone is desperately trying to find ways of abusing the little power they have. I thought that there is still a scrap of humanity left in every heart in this world, but I guess once again I must realise my mistake. Was this what Gandhi fasted for?
We were given 30 minutes to figure out a plan and to check things on the internet. We had two options again. 1) To fly to Dhaka in Bangladesh and go to the Indian Embassy, or 2) To by a ticket to Delhi and a separate one to Finland that would leave after 2-3 weeks, and use that one to get a visa-on-arrival in Delhi. No record would be sent to them about the incident and all would be ok.
Just as we had figured out our plan and were to buy flights, the internet turned off. Juho was then taken to an office, where he is now trying to get us flights out of this god forsaken airport.
I’ve lost my beach ball and I have no one to talk to anymore.
Juho came back with tickets to Dhaka. I asked why there, weren’t we supposed to go to Delhi? Apparently the A-hole from immigration had stepped into the office as Juho was about to buy the tickets and told him that we will not get a visa-on-arrival from any place in India. He was to make sure about that. Juho asked him don’t they follow regulations here, to which he answered that he is in charge, and he decides who comes into the country and who doesn’t. Nice.
He has decided to hate us for some reason, probably for wanting to go to Pakistan, and he will do everything in his power to make sure we do not get into India.
I wish for his sake, that all of the gods in this country turned a blind eye to how we were treated here yesterday and today. No one should be treated like this.
The flight to Dhaka leaves in four and a half hours, and we have no choice now but to hope for the best. Our tuk tuk might be at the port already, but everyone has refused to help me find the port number.
There is no certainty that the Indian embassy will grant us the visas, but for leverage, we do have support from the Indian Ambassador in Helsinki, The Finnish Ambassador in Delhi, The Finnish Ambassador in Bangkok, The Embassy of India in Yangon, The Embassy of Pakistan in Bangkok, and the Ex-Ambassador of Finland to Bangkok.
The cards have been reshuffled, and new plans are laid. This was a blow we did not see coming.
It is time to let go of the past and look brightly into the future to keep up hope. Just like the youth at Circus Kathmandu, we must forgive life and hope that in the future we will meet better people along the way.
We have already forgiven all the staff at this airport, because it makes our life much lighter and we don’t want to pass on this negativity, so with a smile on our faces we board yet another plane to go see another mysterious land of Asia, Bangladesh.
Flight leaves in 1 hour, we finally found a heart of gold. Young man at the coffee stall gave us 30 min access to internet so we bought some coffees from him. We didn’t have rupees and for some reason our credit cards got rejected. So he payed the coffees for us. Finally, heart of gold 🙂