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Paperwork Fail

Resubmitting the same LOI...pfft!

Actually, that part was fine, the trouble was the woman seemed, well, I wouldn't say suspicious but more, um, unconvinced by the veracity of my application despite being identical (barring dates and passport number) to the one I handed over in August. I suppose, like the Indians (vicariously represented by VFS), they've tightened their procedures up a bit.

The two extra documents you need, she said before asking me to hold and and walking away for a minute. The three extra documents you need are: a letter from your accountant (she didn't indicate what it should say); the tour operator's itinerary; and the tour route. Hmmm. I was considering how dull it was going to be to have to come all the way down here again he next day when it became clear she wasn't about to give me any of my documents back, including my passport.

"You can email the documents to me..." checks with colleague "...with this subject line. When can you get them to me?"

Thinks carefully that to avoid looking like I've forged everything the production of documents should take some time "...Tomorrow?"

Checks with colleague "...That will be fine."

I get a chitty back with the list of documents required and instructions on what time to turn up to pay for the visa (now a whopping £104 for single entry) and when to collect the passport. Last time, payment was when you turned up and then passports were handed back out every couple of hours, now, payment is 10:00-11:30 and passport collection is either 4:00pm or 5:30pm, ie. you have to hang about for the whole day. I suppose I can head off to the Natural History Museum and put my lepidoptera hat on. I should put the (metaphorical) hat on first to avoid trapping any creatures inside. As to which day, they'll call me.

The last time I saw butterflies enclosed was in SE Asia (quite possibly Bali) where the most enormous butterflies (5 and 6 inch wing spans) where kept in a huge tent/aviary/farm with the result they were everywhere and it was actually quite hard not to tread on them. It was a poor show -- we were dropped off outside and expected to go in, where was my animal rights stand then? Interestingly, I'm sure we saw a huge stag beetle outside on the pavement although I seem to recall reading later that the people who collect the stag beetles hang around near streetlights and wait for the beetles to come into the light before bagging them and sending them off to their fate.

For those not quite familiar with the crime of enclosing frail flappy butterflies, consider that Painted Lady butterflies, migrate between the UK and North Africa, Monarch butterflies between Canada and Mexico. The point being they might look fragile but they're really quite hard core. Read a little more about butterfly migration. Actually, the butterfly migrations are all the more amazing as the Painted Ladies head for Africa having never been there before and more amazingly the Monarch butterflies might only live for two months so the annual migration is completed over four generations!

Back to the documentation. So I legged it back -- falling asleep on the coach again thus failing to watch the milvus milvus that like to soar around the lower reaches of the M40 -- to fire off a request to the accountants and start, er, re-imagining the sort of places a tour might go to in Pakistan.

So the tour operators we able to, um, supply me with the required documentation this morning and I fired off the requisite email to the woman at the consulate. We shall see what happens.

In the meanwhile, fearing all sorts of horrors I emailed the tour operators to, uh, remind them of the details they'd, er, just sent me just in case they might not have saved a copy. As a courtesy, you understand. Interestingly, they mailed back to say that they'd had a some issues with people who'd used their LOIs and gotten into trouble. They now charge $25 for an LOI. Oops, a bit of a liberty on my part.

I had also asked them, as I was now certain to pass through their manor, about a trip up into the Deosai Plateau which they replied was likely to cost a single person around $140 per day for a two or three day trip. Costs would be (almost) proportionally less per person. Ow! This isn't China, you know!

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