Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

The return of…

– the umbrella, as means of sun protection. If the monks can do it with a straight face, so can I.

– the hand fan. Yes, a hand fan. Probably the best 50 taka I’ve ever spent.

– 7Up. And lots of it.

All in an attempt to deal with the escalating heat. See, told you I’d be moaning about the heat. Another 45 days of moaning to go. Yep, today I counted the days.

If all goes according to plan with my application for an exit visa, and my application for an Indian visa, I’ll be leaving the country on the 25th of April. The whole ‘getting a visa to leave the country’ thing is slightly beyond my comprehension right now. I thought I had submitted my application for a visa extension when I was last in Dhaka. I mean I went to the visa office with forms, passport, (VSO’s) money etc. In an ‘only in Bangladesh’ turn of events, it transpires that this wasn’t actually an APPLICATION application. Sure, we filled in the forms, submitted them, paid, n’ stuff. But now my passport is back with VSO, sans visa. AND this was the plan all along. So my visa extension application is ‘under process’ but at no point will I actually GET a visa extension. I’ve given up trying to understand. So what this means is that I am currently visa-less, and have to apply for a visa to leave the country. Turns out I don’t need one to stay, but I need one to leave. Uh. Ok. VSO will apply for this visa, and when I get it I have 7 days in which to leave the country. Except I’m going to India, for which I need a visa. And an Indian visa takes a minimum of 5 working days to process. You do the math. This might not work out. Having said that, if I do over-stay my ‘exit visa’ to get my Indian visa, I’m told the penalty is 200 taka a day. Which is fine, no sweat at about £2 a day. But I’m catching the train to Calcutta, and if I’ve learnt anything in this country I’ve learnt that I’ll probably be the first foreigner to overstay their visa and to then attempt leaving by land. I expect maximum confusion, and maximum ineptitude at the border. Oh wait. Shit. I’m leaving Bangladesh by land. Apparently I also need a ‘change of route’ permit. Because I arrived by air. And I’m leaving by land.

And no, I’m not making this stuff up. So as hard as it’s been to live in this country for a year, it might be even harder to leave.



  Cive wrote @

Sounds a right nightmare, Estelle! Just wondered, since VSO have your passport, is it not possible for you to apply for the India visa now?

  estellevisagie wrote @

Good question Clive. And that was my first question to VSO when I began to understand the visa mess I’m in. But to apply for an Indian visa, I need a valid visa for the country I’m apply from (i.e. Bangladesh). But I don’t currently have a visa for Bangladesh. So I can only apply when I get stoopid 7 day exit visa, which is a valid enough visa for Bangladesh to allow me to apply for a Indian visa. It’s a joke. Except it’s not funny. This country and its internal workings never fail to amuse (read: annoy) me.

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