My latest trip to India started out just like first trip to the sub-continent: by pulling an all-nighter cleaning the apartment.
Back then I was a student and wanted to go with my brother to India, overland. Initially we just looked in an atlas and it seemed possible and exciting, so we went to a bookstore and discovered that there were actually people doing this and writing guide books about it. A little publishing house Lonely Planet seemed like it had pretty much cornered that market.
Of course this was in what I am sure they call at the Wheeler’s the good old days when Lonely Planet wrote for people with little money and exotic destinations. ‘Hitching is only for the hardy’ they advised for transport across the Arabian Desert. The grueling 28 hour bus trip to Zahedan in Iran was described as ‘It’s a long and dusty trip, but it puts an awful lot of desert behind you’. Quite.
Anyway, way back then we made a plan and applied for the relevant visa, non of which posed much of a problem except for Iran. It wasn’t that they had special requirements or that it was particularly expensive; it required a return telex from a ministry in Teheran which usually took 3 months. And then the visa would be valid for only one month from the day of issue.
So we waited. And just when we were getting a little nervous, we received a letter in the mail from the Iranian embassy that the visa had been granted and could we drop off our passports. We quickly organized all the other things, booked a bus to Istanbul and set off for the Hague, where were told that yes we had the visa, but the actual stamping of the passport would also take a week.
We changed our bus ticket and a surreal week of waiting followed. We basically spend our time equally between sleeping, watching the tour de france on tv and waiting for the tour de france tv coverage to start. Until the last day when we got the visa and decided to increase our changes of sleeping on the bus by not sleeping the night before, but do some serious cleaning instead.
Last night was the same, except for that now we weren’t afraid of not sleeping on the plane; we just needed to do a whole lot of cleaning.