Indian Decade

Convenience vs Identity

Being an Indian travelling can be a nightmare. But would I exchange convenience for identity?

The only time I wish I wasn't Indian is when I need to travel abroad. There are few countries in the world we can enter without visas and the sheer numbers of us mean embassies of countries like the United States and Britain are chock-a-block.

But even if you’ve travelled extensively around the world, you get the feeling that you must prove to the visa officers that you’ve no intention of overstaying, and that you have a wonderful life, a happy family and a great job to come back to.

Alas, often even such protestations don't always work. It's been ten days since I applied for a single-entry, six-month visa to the United Kingdom to go visit family and friends there. I was supposed to leave last weekend but now the trip seems like it’s finally going to have to be axed.

Apparently, there's a brand new rule in place that those who haven't been to Britain in the last five years should factor in at least a month for their visa being processed. Until barely a month back, tourist visas were processed within seven working days and I applied with that schedule in mind. 

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Every now and then you meet Indians settled abroad who on principle have refused to give up their Indian passports to take up citizenship of the countries they’ve resided in for years, sometimes decades. I often thought that was a commendable stand to take. But, it's only in the last week that I have realized how big a decision that is. It's not about forsaking identity, but forsaking incredible convenience. That's no small feat.