As I mentioned, we were initially told we didn't have to register, but there was a sudden change of heart as soon as the deadline passed and they decided we DID have register AND pay a $30 USD late fee per person. So yesterday morning, we had to get our kids going then take off to the Police Commissioners Office with a bundle of any potentially relevant papers, enough passport photos to sink a ship and hopeful hearts. The office literally has an exposed attic filled with piles of papers, stacked to the ceiling... We're staring at these unorganized piles, knowing that our papers will soon join the sea... never to be really looked at by anyone ever again. After waiting for awhile, we met with a woman who scruntized our documents, asked a bunch of questions, made us wait longer for an officer. While we waited, there was actually a bugle call and a formal changing of the guard... I felt like I was in mid-19th century England.... All these offices are in cutesy, 50-year-old beautiful buildings.
Eventually, we met with the officer (well, I assume we did... the morning is kind of a blur), met with the lady again who listed two stops we had to make before coming back to this office. And she said Anne would have to come back later in the week to get our Visas stamped. We raced across town to the first office and honestly no one knew where to send us... bottom level back corner... top level opposite corner... right by the stairs first door on your left... back to the bottom level down the hall from the back corner... after about 8 wrong offices, we ended up where the first guy tried to us before we were intercepted and sent on this wild goose chase, through clouds of incense down hidden hallways. Finally, we met a woman excited to talk to us and more excited by her mistaken impression that we're teaching mentally retarded kids. She brought us to the "Strong Room" us to another man for a stamp and a signature. We thought they told us this was the treasury room but later, we thought maybe they were laughing because they had us in a stronghold. He found us absolutely hilarious- he asked if we were having a good day getting our paperwork filled out and let out a jubilant "This is India!" laugh. He asked if we liked it and said that most Indians want to move to the US. He was entranced by Anne's Dan Brown book and sent us merrily on our way to the MAIN BRANCH of the Bank of Mysore.
So we got to the Bank... got a signature from someone, they sent us to the Treasury Branch in a small building in the back... waited in a long cue, paid and raced back to the Police Commissioners to hand in our documents in the fifteen minutes before they went on break for lunch. Fortunately, we caught the lady but now she said we ALL had to come back later in the week to get our documents stamped and no, she could not do it now.
|Just a random cute house with a decorated sidewalk to bring good things|
|Hopefully the "legal documents" my horoscope referred to will be taken care of!|
So that was fun. Raced back to squirrelly kids. But I was happy to be there. After work, we had another staff meeting (even though we had one last Thursday and Friday and we were sent 96 billion e-mails about related things) then I raced off to meet Abhi for a last visit before he moves to Mangalore on Wednesday. It's hard to believe he'll be leaving Mysore before me... he's been like a brother, checking in every day so I'll miss him when it's Friday afternoon and time to do laundry. We talked more about Rumi, his poetry and keeping up with ever-changing life. He took me to the city center to meet up with Azaf, a couchsurfer from the Island of Kochin.
He works as a doctor on a medical ship and I'm honestly not sure how he found me or why he took an epic bus journey to get here. Maybe he had some work? But we had dinner and he told me about his island and brought me some beautiful conch shells. He was a jolly guy- contagious laugh and generally, very happy. He came back in an auto-rickshaw with me which was quite the experience. I'm convinced our driver was half-blind and we were barely inching along since he claimed he couldn't see in the headlights of the oncoming traffic. The guy stopped the rickshaw but what I guess was his house and pulled a garden house out of the front door and put gas in the rickshaw. I had never seen anything like it- in the meantime, his son was sitting on the front porch, staring at me and bandaging his foot with a thick cast-like covering. So weird. After a billion years of inching along but good conversation, I finally made it home. Poor Azaf had to go back to city center and go home on an epically long bus ride. He said he got to take a forest permit bus and see deers, wild dogs and a family of elephants (a mama and a papa and three babies) so I'm glad he got some safari-ing in.
What a crazy country!
So we just came back from ANOTHER three hours of waiting at the commissioner's office. Fortunately not during class time. But we got there, waited "1 minute, 1 minute" multiplied by sixty. Then they moved us to some other chairs around the corner. Waited there some more. Listened to a couple more bugle calls, during which everyone froze. Including the woman's arm when she was handing us something. Eventually, we got granted access to the commissioner's office. This man was sitting in a huge white chair with assorted trophies on his right side (cricket, riflery, etc.) and a real, stuffed tiger mid-roar on his left side. There were some rhino horns on the wall. He scruntized our passports, asked us about our fathers, and made me take my hair down because he thought I looked different in my picture. Ultimately, he signed four forms for each of us, told us to leave, we didn't know where to go, we waited some more and finally got proof of registration. Tyler says he's going to bring this paper to the grave with him, it was such a hassle to get. I hope I never have to go through that again! Wish me luck with all the end of camp craziness- I definitely need it!