June 24, 2008

Sidharth Monga at the 2008 Asia Cup

Visa to Pakistan

Sidharth Monga

Travel agent. Visa agent. Passport photograph. Accreditation form. Indian media manager. Pakistan media manager. Ministry of Interior. Damn the visa process.

Tickets can't be booked from Bangalore. Find journalist contacts in India. Find journalist contacts in Pakistan. Unresponsive Ministry of Interior. Be told how difficult it was for Pakistan journalists to get Indian visa for the tour last year. Early-morning flight to Delhi. Pakistan Embassy. 9am. Visa agent on the way. Press Secretary. Reception outside Pakistan Embassy. Window No. 5. Queue. Question the visa concept.

9.30am. Visa agent still on the way. Overhear at reception of Embassy, "Janab we have been sitting outside since 4am, and there is not even water here." Damn the visa concept.

Call Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). There is enough time to either make the booking or reach the airport. Indira Gandhi International Airport. A locked PIA office. A flight can either be taken in 90 minutes or after 48 hours. At the airport gate without a ticket. Call PIA again. Helpful lady answers. But passport has been forgotten in the cab. Call the driver. Get the passport back. Good man. Ticket at last. Sleep on boarding. In-flight lunch. In-flight information. A Delhi-to-Karachi map. A "disputed territory" just under Himalayas. Jinnah International Airport. Posh. Call a colleague. Go over to the National Stadium. Realise, for the first time in three days, it's cricket I’m are here for. Drive around Karachi with a colleague. Forget the pains of the visa concept.

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Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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