One thing I've spent much time doing is visiting Indian Immigration. In Canada it was insisted upon that I acquire the J visa i.e. Journalist Visa. "Too many of you people come in on Tourist Visa and then practice journalism. We can't be having that I am telling you." After pulling strings with the Vice-Consul (Visas) I got mine in a couple of days. However, there was a stipulation that I register here within two weeks of arrival. What a rigmarole.
First I could not find the correct place to register, having been told by the Immigration Officer at Delhi that I could do it with any Chief of Police anywhere in India. Wrong, Mr. Immigration Official. When I did find the right place, India Immigration here in Pondicherry, I was told I did not have permission to be in this place. Pondicherry is not in Tamil Nadu State, it's a Union Territory separate unto itself. After speaking on the phone and twiddling every elastic band, staple and paper-clip in his stationary tray, the Head Honcho (you could tell, he was the only chap with a glass-topped desk) said he would give me his permission. Then I had to fill in certain forms. When I returned those next day another official, a woman this time, said they were "not ac - cept - able" as if she were the headmistress and I a naughty pupil. On Day Three I got the forms right but had to return the following Monday. Over the next couple of days she must have investigated that everywhere I said on the form I'd stayed was true. I know that because she called here at the guesthouse where I'm Writer-in-Residence. The following Monday I appeared at the appointed time only to be told to give them my passport and return in the afternoon. And eureka! I finally got my piece of paper, which I must hand to the immigration people when I leave the country.
My parting shot to the receptionist as I left the Pondi branch of India Immigration was,
"I hope not to see you again." Thank goodness he had a sense of humour: he cracked up laughing.