Thursday, 12th May 2011, the day London was cancelled.
This summer, the MIM, the boys and I were planning a trip to the Queen's country. Yes, the land of Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Roald Dahl; of the stiff upper lip, the cockney accent and the lilting drawl; the batter fried fish, tea & scones, shortbread and what, even curry; the London Bridge, the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, Globe Theatre and the Westend -- oh the Westend, where plans were being made for 'The Lion King', 'Love Never Dies' and 'End of the Rainbow'.
Visas had been applied for; interviews given; warm clothes taken out, sunned and packed; gifts bought for relatives and friends; and tickets booked for Saturday the 14th.
Our visas never came. Repeated internet checks and phone calls to the consulate resulted in the same answer being done to death -- Yours applications are under process.
!2th evening, with a birthday party for The Nephew raging in the background, the MIM and I took the painful decision of cancelling our tickets so that we could get back the maximum refund possible -- less than 24 hours meant 50% would have been deducted. We called the helpline in Delhi one more time and they very rudely told us not to expect anything before the middle of next week. That cememnted our decision.
Now we had more than two weeks of vacation time on our hands with nowhere to go. Instantly, I said "Himachal." The MIM had been clamouring to go to the hills for a long, long time and now was our chance.
We knew we wouldn't be getting the best deals; after all, not only was this trip last minute, it was also at peak season. Hours spent over the Net and we finally zeroed in on our route : Delhi -- Amrtisar -- Dalhousie -- Dharamshala -- Palampur -- Amritsar -- Delhi. This was after a lot of permuatations and combinations were checked out.
Next, the hotels in Himachal. In Dalhousie, we got a cottage in a beautiful, recently opened resort called "Amode". Not strictly in Dalhousie town, 7 kms further up. In Dharamshala, we got acco in The Grace Hotel while in Palampur, we got another cottage at a tea estate. Like idiots, we didn't factor in any extra time for Amritsar, otherwise we could have done the Golden Temple and Wagah Border as well. I guess we had to leave something for next time.
So, with the Big Ben, Globe Theatre and the Westend waving a sad goodbye to me in my mind's eye, I readied myself in the heat of Calcutta summers with sweaters and woolens.
And after all that? Midnight between 13th and 14th May, after we got back from a friend's birthday party, the MIM decided to check out the visa status 'just like that.' Guess what?
They'd been approved on the 13th.
So much for paying extra for SMS alerts. Anybody I can write to about this?!?!