I have been feeling a bit like I imagine Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard, may have felt in one of the scenes from classic Vietnam war movie “Apocalypse Now”. For a while he is stuck for days in a hotel room in Saigon, “getting weaker, while Charlie crouches in the jungle, getting stronger”. Well, I have been suffering the Kathmandu version of the same scene, watching my goals slip slowly out of sight, but without even the bottle of whiskey to help pass the time, only the occasional cup of coffee at the cafe round the corner!
But finally, things are starting to come together a little bit now. Shailu, manager here at Hotel Nana, has been wonderfully helpful, and introduced me on Sunday to an agent who could help expedite my Indian visa application. We filled in the forms, and first thing this morning I met the agent at the Indian Embassy. The crowds there were huge, and as is often the case at these places, chaos and confusion reigned!
My agent was also processing an application for a German guy, and we got chatting. Another travelling regular, he said, “I got a numbered ticket from the machine when I arrived, just in case!” He showed me his ticket, number 40! I laughed. “Me too,” I said, and showed him my ticket, number 41. A little insurance is often wise in these situations. It might have only been about two hours until they got to our ticket numbers! Alot of people were going to have to wait longer than that!
However, our agent was as good as his word, and had ticket number 1, and only ten minutes after the scheduled opening time, the first ticket was called forward – that counts as being on time here in Nepal!
So, hopefully by 6pm this evening my visa will be delivered to the hotel. Back at the hotel before lunchtime, Shailu took me to confirm and pay for the flight he had reserved for me yesterday afternoon, and I now have my second ticket from Kathmandu to Delhi, having paid another $131 – my first ticket was non-refundable, of course!
So this is cutting things very fine, and only gives me 24 hours in India, but I spoke to the wonderfully helpful Avhi back at my trekking company Himalayan Encounters, and he rang a contact in Delhi, who is going to try to organise a car to take me from Delhi to Agra, visit the Taj Mahal, and then back to Delhi again before my flight to London.
It’s going to be cutting it very fine to actually arrive at the Taj Mahal in time to get in, but hopefully I will have no issues getting back for my London flight – can’t afford to miss that one, as there is still a large degree of travel chaos here after the Icelandic volcano issues earlier this month!
The whole journey is not going to be cheap, I don’t imagine, but once again, I really have nobody to blame but myself. I just hope it is worth it!
For the fact that it may still even be possible for me to see the Taj Mahal on this trip, I owe a hugh debt of thanks to both Shailu and Avhi. Despite my issues here in Kathmandu, I still think it is a great place, and there are some wonderfully friendly and helpful people here.
But I still hope that I can escape finally tomorrow morning!!