SUCCESS!!

VISA

Finally, after much patience and confusion, my India Tourist Visa has arrived!

Following on from my last post about this, let’s re-cap with a quick how-to (and some corrections!) on how to apply for an India Tourist Visa for UK Based Applicants.

How I Obtained an India Tourist Visa

1. I completed my application on the India Visa Online website.
2. Upon submitting my application, I also paid for my visa online (£93.60) and made an appointment to go to the London based embassy to complete my application. Upon making my appointment, the webpage changed to an appointment confirmation page, which I printed and kept and good thing I did because it was required later on! An alternative option is to post a copy of your application along with two 2×2 photos and your passport to the embassy and pay for Special Delivery for it to be returned to you. I have a couple of friends who have gone through this process at the Birmingham based embassy and told me that by going in person you can collect your visa the very next day. This turn out not to be the case for me, but it’s what I opted for anyway! So I made my appointment for 11:00 Thursday 29th January.
3. I also paid a couple of quid extra to receive text message updates on the process of my application, but this turned out to be a completely pointless thing to do, as I’ll explain shortly.
4. Next, I sorted out my photo. The passport photo machine had a specific option for “India Visa” which cost £7.
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Gorgeous.

5. To my horror, I received no confirmation of any kind from the embassy that my application had been received, or an itinerary list for my appointment. So I used good old common sense and packed
Confirmation of my appointment
Itinerary of flights
Proof of where I’ll be staying
Proof of address
Several copies of my application
My passport
Two 2×2 photos
Confirmation that I had paid for my visa

I was told by one of the aforementioned friends who had done this that this what a good list, but more might be needed! I was also advised to take copies of my birth certificate, my parent’s birth certificates, my parent’s passports and my parent’s marriage certification!! Basically, legal confirmation of anything that is mentioned on the application!
I was also advised, in spite of having an appointment, to arrive at the embassy early as possible as queues are normally out the door…

6. So, come Thursday 29th January, I arrived at the London based India Visa Application Centre bright and early at 9:00 only to see no queues and no panic what-so-ever. So, I enjoyed a nice relaxed breakfast at Costa Coffee nearby, and returned at 10:30
7. I was greeted by a very friendly individual, who seemed to welcome the excitement that was suddenly bubbling over from me (you’d think it was the day of my flight for all the giddiness). I was asked if I had an appointment, and when I confirmed I do, was asked to produced the confirmation. Pow. I did.
8. I was given a waiting number (shown in the picture above) and directed to the glue stick and scissor area, where I completed my application by sticking my grumpy face down securely.
9. After about 10 minutes of waiting, my ticket number was called. I was asked for my application and passport. When I asked if I will be returning the following day to collect my visa, I was told with a polite smile that this would not be the case and that it will be ready for me to collect the following week. So, I opted for it to be posted to me instead, which cost my about £10 for Special Delivery. So to review, the only documents I needed in the end were my passport, and my application. But I still think it’s better to be extra prepared!
10. Less than a week later my visa arrived, and was followed a couple of day later by a series of text message telling my the process of my application… So I wouldn’t bother with this feature in hindsight.

And that’s how it’s done! So that sees me more or less ready to go, with just 11 days left on the count down!

Following all that visa fun in London, I then drove west to Bristol for a Sister Weekend!

As I’m yet to visit India, I’ve never experienced authentic Indian cooking. But it’s said that if you want to find this in the UK, there’s only one place to go…

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And that’s exactly where my darling sister took me.

Before that evening, we started the day just right with a visit to “our cafe”, Tinto!

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It began with prosecco, beer and me getting absolutely thrashed at Scrabble

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I mean come on.

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Followed by a nap, a few gins, my sister’s home-made Blackcurrent Rum, and then FINALLY we swanned over to the Tali!

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What a treat!

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We began with this selection of starters; Red pepper pakora, Kashmiri potato bonda, Punjabi samosa and, what quickly became a new found favourite of mine, Uttapam.

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A South India rice pancake cooked with fresh herbs, tomato, red onion and fresh coconut, served with coconut chutney and another thing I’ve never heard of before called sambar… irresistible, whatever it is!

Just tear, dip and scoff.

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MORE than satisfying!!

Next up was a Lamb Kofta Thali served with Punjabi Aloo Mathi, tarka dahl, crunchy Keralan salad, Basmati rice and raita.

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A FLAVOUR EXPLOSION! That lamb was soooo tender with an unexpected (for me) coconut after taste. Mmmmm.

We also tried one last thing. The Masala Dosa…

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Which was considerably larger than we had expected! Stuffed with deliciously spiced potatoes.

So. How do you top of an exciting explorer meal such as this?

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Cocktails, of course!

Thanks for a great weekend, Hana! I can’t wait to find out how many of these delicacies I manage to track down in India, and how many more I discover!

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