Sunday, 28 November 2010

Visas and cake

 My dedicated 'travelling eye' biscuit!

I've spent the last few days in London attempting to secure various visas, but succeeding only in returning home minus a passport. On the up side, I've been fed a lot of very interestingly shaped cakes.

On Wednesday I finally received my authorisation code from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, via an Iranian tourist agency. It should have arrived a little sooner but there was evidently a mix up with emails; i.e. they didn't email me. The Iranian consulate's website doesn't tell you this, but you have to turn up first thing in the morning to get an appointment slip in order to be able to come back later, so I turned up at 8am on Thursday morning to find the door locked and a sign on it saying 'Closed today'. But what day did they put the sign up? A visa agent appeared and said that last week their computers were broken and perhaps they were now fixing them. A sense of foreboding continued to hang over me.

The next day, I made the same (freezing) trek back to the consulate to find 30 or so people mingling around the entrance. They kindly directed me to put my name on a list, but my full name was already on it! How had that happened? There certainly weren't any other people around there who looked like they might also have the same, particularly British, full name. Everyone else was speaking Farsi and, although I hate to presume, I thought it unlikely. I had only given the visa agent from the day before my first name. Was he a spy? Or were the Iranians expecting me?

Suddenly the visa agent came skipping round the corner and asked, 'Did you see I put you on the list?'

'Yes… but how did you know…' I stammered. 'You're joking!' he exclaimed. That's a hell of a guess.

The doors opened and a friendly official opened the door and asked who was first. My fears of non-standard queuing etiquette were alleviated when one man, who had apparently been there since 5am, organised us all into a row based on our positions on the list. I was issued with a return time later that afternoon.

The final part of the process was simple: handover your passport, application form and an inordinate fee in return for a free go on their fingerprint-reading machine. But they also wanted a self-addressed special delivery envelope. I requested to collect it when it was ready but they just said it was no longer possible. So off I trotted to the post office but upon my return there was no-one at any of the windows. I eventually handed it to a passing official, but then got worried that it wouldn't find its way to my passport so I sat there like a lemon until someone reassured me it would be ok. They were, all-in-all, very helpful and friendly, despite the number of hoops one must jump through to get to that stage. Perhaps they love you for putting that much effort in.

My fingers waiting patiently in line for printing.

I should say a thank you to my two good friends for putting-me-up-and-putting-up-with-me for the last five nights, even if I have been forced to act as their butler for the entire time. On top of providing me shelter from the insanely cold weather, I've been fed cakes and biscuits and even had one dedicated to my 'travelling' eye. (It was also pointed out to me that it sounds a little like 'wandering eye', which is a whole different matter. And my blog's banner looks like an advert for a horror film.) So please check out her wonderful blog about baking, whether you're into making or eating cakes or both.

I've also now linked this blog and its facebook page to twitter, so you can hook up your electronic brain to it through whichever medium suits you best. Ooo and there are now photos on my Cambodian travel story.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! I'm looking forward to more cake-related stories!