Prologue


In 2004 when I was working as a freelance computer programmer, one of my regular clients Leo Van Opstal became a good friend. He had recently shifted from Australia to his native country, the Netherlands. I had never been abroad so a visit to the Netherlands was quite tempting. Leo was happy to invite me as he had a large accommodation where I could stay. Getting visa was an issue for a single male freelancer from India. The visa officer at Netherlands embassy called back to Leo and on his personal guarantee issued my visa. I was required to report at the nearest police station in the Netherlands within 48 hours of arrival. I also had to report back at the embassy in India after my return.
Leo's home in the Netherlands
Leo's home in the Netherlands


My tickets were by British Airways and the route was New Delhi - London - Amsterdam. I was quite excited on the day of departure. Alas! No one told me that United Kingdom had recently introduced a transit visa, which meant that even if you had a connecting flight you required a visa from a U.K. Embassy. I was given this news at the British Airways check-in counter, IGI airport . I took it in my stride or at least I made others believe so.

I was told that the U.K. transit visa was just a formality and it would only take a day. Next day I went to the British Embassy and submitted my visa application. It was Thursday so I expected to get back my passport with visa on Friday. On Friday, I was informed that I had been called in for an interview on Tuesday. That was very annoying. All I wanted to do was to catch a connecting flight from London and they were calling me for an interview. I think it was more because of the resentment than the agony of the long wait that I withdrew my passport. I cancelled the British Airways ticket and booked with the KLM airlines which had a direct flight to Amsterdam. Now I wonder, if am ever going to get a U.K. visa at all ;)

This time when I went to the airport the feeling of joy was replaced by apprehension. Thankfully there were no more surprises for me. The in-flight Dutch crew did not seem too happy. Some passengers had vomited on the floor so can't blame them.
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