21 June, 2008

Dear customer, your visa application is under process at the embassy....

When Uday didn't get his Pakistan visa in the winter of 2004, I wrote to the papers, to government officials, made phone calls to important people, friends, relatives - I think it's called pulling strings - and lo and behold, he got it just in time!

Now I am hanging in the air, with a prestigious award from Princeton (to fund an independent panting project in Paris and Delhi), with airline bookings and room reservations paid for, on the brink of departure, with no France visa. It's a small battle of its own kind. I wrote to Princeton. I wrote to all my French friends and professors. I searched Tigernet for French Princeton alumni and emailed them. Several people have written requests to expedite the visa process. I keep sending explanations and request letters to the embassy in Islamabad. I wrote to the editor of Dawn again. I keep calling to track my passport and every time I hear the same thing "Dear customer, your visa application is under process at the embassy...." My flight leaves on July 1st.

I have the worst kind of creative block and all I can think about is my non-existent visa. I jump to answer phone calls.

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