Published: August 16th 2009July 30th 2009
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Getting a Schengen Visa was as tight as a Muay Thai fight ! Several follow-ups, written explanations, phone calls and documents later, we finally got that shiny sticker pasted on our passports. And, it almost got ripped off !..How ? ...Read on....
The Kolkata airport interiors at night is a dream come true for insomniacs. Dimmed lights (not intentional but due to the dust accumulated), soft and soothing music (again, they might be playing Techno, but then - the dust on the speakers makes it sound like a Yanni masterpiece), very scary policemen with very medieval riffles, and last but not the least, the proud office bearers at the immigration counters - very annoyed with their night shifts, and very annoyed because you're flying at an odd hour !
The man I gave my passport to, was a very polite person. He didn't ask too many questions, because deep inside he knew for sure that my Visa was fake ! The moment I handed my passport to him, he swiftly moved to the Page that had the Visa, and started scratching the sticker. He was particularly interested in the Hologram and tried his best to rip it apart. Too bad that the Swiss Embassy has a good quality control in place, else my Visa would have looked like Grafitti in 5 mins !
After his valiant attempt, he had to give up, because others in the queue were getting impatient, and he had more Visas (and other things) to scratch.
The golden surprise was at the IGI airport. The Policeman at the Security check was very curious about my purpose of Visit. Going to Switzerland for a holiday was the funniest thing he had ever heard of. However, he too, had other things to laugh at, and let me go after a few basic questions like "Why do I want to go for a Holiday ?", "What is there to see in Switzerland" etc.
As far as my knowledge goes, the place where the Visa matters the most is the arrival immigration control. Going by what I had experienced in Kolkata and Delhi, I was sure about being deported from Frankfurt in the next available flight. But Frankfurt Police really let me down !
After arriving at Frankfurt, we tried to find our way to the Baggage Claim. When we asked an uniformed official about the way, he asked us "Where do you want to go ?". I said "Frankfurt"...he said "You are there already !"...I said "Yes, but I haven't seen the city yet !"...He looked a little dissapointed. He is probably used to dealing with erratic and lost transit passengers trying to find the terminal for their ongoing flights. A person refusing to fly anywhere else probably came as an unpleasant shock to him.
Anyway, after claiming our baggage which Air India failed to lose, we proceeded towards the Immigration Control, and I was already trying to check the Departure Boards to see if any Flights were leaving for India soon. Two HUGE German Police Officers were manning the counter with exit passages on either side. One of them looked at our Passports, stamped the Visa pages and showed us the way out.
No wonder Germany is having a huge problem with illegal immigrants !