Good news Bad news

A lot has happened in the last month – I have managed to change my placement  and NGO which is the big news. I was not able to be effective at NMP+,  as they themselves are in a semi-crisis mode, having quarrelled with the main network called INP+ and the politics of the situation had taken over from focus on work and projects. People lost motivation and the office environment was complex.

I am delighted now to be with a social enterprise called eCoexist.  They are concerned both with the environment and social causes and have a good team, and are enthusiastic and committed. It’s like being on another planet, and I feel much more involved and pleased to be there.  I met Manisha, the founder at a meeting and was immediately struck by her focus and clarity. (you may sense a slight wistfulness there after 6 months in India!) I had thought of returning to the UK when the situation at NMP+ became increasingly tough, and was so pleased to meet someone who I wanted to work with.

That is the good news. The bad news is my visa extension is not yet sorted out, and the current visa has expired.  I travelled to Delhi in July, and sat for 3 days in the Ministry of Home Affairs, not an experience I would recommend! However, it was all worth it as I emerged triumphant with a letter, saying my visa could be extended, as long as the Pune FRO (the Foreigners Registration Office in Pune) had no objections. So then started a series of events in Pune – a home visit by the police, a government bond typed and signed by a notary (see picture) which states that if I die, someone will be in charge of any financial responsibilities that are incurred in India, a visa extension fee and forms with the requisite 5 photos, and another 7 visits to the FRO for registration and scanning of documents.  All the paperwork is done and is right now in the bowels of the FRO.  The visa extension is meant to be issued soon – but who knows when it will be.   It is difficult not to feel helpless in the face of such overwhelming bureaucratic processes, lethargy and complexity.  I’m told my story is completely commonplace and not to worry as I have a “government order” the famous letter from Delhi. That is my piece de resistance, photocopied so many times I’ve lost count. Thanks to Girish, we now have the name of one of men at FRO, a Mr Shete. Girish can occasionally get through on the phone to him to ask about any progress.  All Indian people are used to this sclerotic procedure, and Sunil, a business  advisor at  eCoexist,  told me similar tales about renewing his passport. He has even visited the police station to check if the papers have left there, and are going through the correct process at the FRO. In India, also for all medical documents, it is up to the person (or patient) to keep all the records or documents. As most things are not computerised, you see everyone at doctors, hospitals or official offices with bags and bags of files and paper, all a bit crushed and creased, but essential to prove the trail of what has been done and what is still to be done.  I used to think service in the UK wasn’t great after living in the US.  Now I think I will find it all miraculously fast and efficient when I come back! Wish me luck for the visa extension….


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