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Of Montreal, a travel plan and passport that almost never came

August 30, 2013

One fine afternoon, two girls ponder over the idea of going to Montreal over the labor day weekend. It is an extended four day weekend and Montreal is not quite far away from NewYork actually makes them feel it is a fabulous idea.

But as usual, life takes over; the girls get busy with work, clocking in 14-16 hours a day and some other incidents in their life dampens their spirit. They don’t discuss about it for a long time.

Exactly one month before the labor day holidays, when life took the semblance of something ‘normal’, they start talking about Montreal again. They both love travelling; however the fact that they both have Indian Passports doesn’t make it easy. You need a visa to get to Canada from USA. The plethora of documents that a Canadian visa application requires makes things quite difficult. They somehow amass all the documents and apply for a visitor visa. The timeline in the Canadian immigration website says 3 weeks and by now it is exactly three weeks to the date they fly out. What is life if you are not optimistic, right?!

They didn’t have to wait for a long time and within 10 days, they hear back from the embassy that their visa is approved and tells them to send across the passport to the embassy. Overjoyed, both of them mail across their passports to the embassy. Then the things take an interesting turn.

5 days before the departure:

Girl1 receives the passport by mail in NewYork. It was a Saturday and she is relieved because she is supposed to travel to Baltimore the next day and work from there for that week. She is flying to Montreal directly from Baltimore. So had it not been for that last day, she may have had to redirect the passport by mail to Baltimore.

Girl2 feels happy for her friend and thinks that her passport will be delivered on the next working day, i.e. Monday.

3 days before the departure:

Girl2 tries to track the mail, but the USPS website says that no information is available for this package. Girl1 consoles her friend that the tracking details of her package were not updated until late in the day and opines that it should be delivered that day itself.

Girl1 reaches her room after work at 9PM and is surprised to see that no package is delivered to her today.

2 days before the departure:

Girl2 starts panicking about the non-delivery of the passport. A couple of frantic telephone calls are made. Embassy only has an automated response and trying to get some information from a related office also goes in vain. They give her an email id used by the embassy and she quickly sends an email requesting a status on her passport delivery. But she never gets a response back.The tracking of the mail gives the same response as the previous day “no information is available for this package” a.k.a no delivery is initiated for the return envelope. Girl2  is beginning to wonder whether her passport may not be delivered and her travel plans may have to be cancelled. However, she decides to make one final attempt and directly go to the embassy the next day.

1 day before the departure:

Girl2 goes to the embassy in NewYork early morning and tries to explain the situation. She is not allowed to enter the embassy because they don’t entertain these kinds of requests. She is told that all the enquiries should be made to particular email id. She immediately emails into that id. She is further directed to a visa application centre six blocks down the lane. The visa application centre informs her that since she applied online and send the passport directly to embassy, they can’t do anything in this matter. Embassy emails back that nowadays, the processing time once they get the passport is about two weeks. Girl2 emails back mentioning she has a flight tomorrow and if the process can be expedited in any manner, it would be helpful.

Girl2 is finally coming into terms with the situation. She realizes that she will have to cancel the flight and hotel bookings today. She informs Girl1 of the situation and they send a thousand crying smilies to each other over IM. Girl2 tells Girl1 to go ahead with the plans and travel to Montreal; however Girl1 inspite of having done solo travel trips before, doesn’t want to go alone this time. They look at backup options. Many options are analysed, explored and information shared. Finally they decide that if nothing works out, they shouldn’t be worried because they are in NewYork after all and there is always something or other to do in the city. They console each other and both of them decide that flights will be cancelled once Girl2 reaches her room and confirms that there is no passport delivery yet.

10PM the night before departure:

After an exhausting day at work, Girl2 reaches home and sees that no package is delivered that day. She texts her friend again with quite a number of sad smilies.

She takes a bath to relax and opens up the laptop to cancel the flights and hotel. Hotel has already charged her for a day and the flight reschedule charges also seem high. She however decide to track the package one last time just for the heck of it.

She could hardly breathe for sometime when she sees that the package has left the embassy at 7.30PM that day and would be delivered by 12PM the next day. She immediately calls up her friend and they both keep up with hope that they may somehow make it to Montreal the next day. Girl2 does her laundry, packs her bags to ensure that lo behold, if she is actually going; she should atleast have some clean clothes.

On the departure day:

Girl2 gets to office at 7.30AM and the usual drill follows. Back to back meetings which are intercepted by frantic tracking of the package.  9AM, the website shows that the package is at the local post office and can be picked up at that point of time. The tight schedule at the office ensures that Girl2 can’t go to the post office in the morning and Girl1 tries to calm her friend down by saying that it will be delivered by noon.

12PM and the package is shown delivered at the address. Girl2 finally gets out of her meetings at 3PM and rushes to her room. She is giddy when she finds her passport with a fresh Canadian visa stamped. She picks up the luggage, drives to airport, drop off the car, takes the tram to the terminal and breezes through the security check for her flight at 6PM.

Going by my travel history, it is clear that Girl2 is me and my friend(Girl1) tells me that me getting into that flight is nothing but a miracle.

plane

While sitting 25000ft above sea level and writing this post, I can’t help but agree. This will be most unplanned trip I would have ever done. I usually have a list of things to check off in any place that I visit. I bought a Montreal guidebook long back, but never read it because I basically didn’t have time for it. The agenda had hence forth been decided as to eat, sleep, rest and roam around Montreal in between. We both needed a break and I am so glad Montreal is where it is going to be.

P.S: In the end, I believe what really worked was emailing the enquiry section with the email I got from the embassy. In case someone else faces the issue with Canadian Embassy in NewYork, please inbox me. I can provide you the email id of the enquiry session.

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One Comment
  1. Gosh! That was quite an ordeal and late drama. Wish the authorities were more professional and glad u share so that future travelers can be informed. Thumbs up for this one and had in been in ur place and that of ur friends, I wld have collapsed.

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