The Challenge of Border Bureacracy with a No Fly Travel Policy

I'm in Delhi, I got a Pakistan visa about 2 weeks ago. I had applied for an Iran LOI (letter of invitation - required for the visa, through tour agency Stantours.com for a princely sum) and was waiting for the little code of confirmation to come through so I could go to the Embassy in Delhi and pick up my visa.

However, it was not to be and a few days ago I got an email saying my application had been rejected. It was basically the worse thing that could happen, almost back to square one. I got some info that perhaps I might be successful with a transit visa if I dressed up in a shirt, bought them chocolates and printed out some photos. I went down to the Embassy. I was the first person in front of the window.

Repeated plees of:

'it's my last chance', 'I haven't seen my wife in 7 months', 'I haven't seen my family in 2 years', 'it's for charity', 'I cycled from England', 'I'm making a travel to promote sustainable transport (sustainable transport- what's that??? was the look I often get)', 'my only other option is Afghanistan'.

The man behind the glass and marble was a grey, crinkly, old, robot. His body language told a story of someone who is used to acting in a emotion-less fashion living by a code of rules and regulations not human stories and situations. There was no sign of a human being there, although I knew there was one, there had to be. I decided to do a Ghandi and stand in front of the window, perfectly peacefully and calmly for the next two hours, right in view of the man.

He attempted not to make eye contact with me, then eventually another man appeared who looked like a cross between Gerard Depardui (the French actor) and Gordon Ramsey. He invited me into a fancy carpeted 'meeting room' with glass coffee table andin Gordon Ramsey style (but without the F word) lambasted me for not having pre-organised my travel plans, was totally unsympathetic, had no concept of the idea of sustainable transport or bike travel, or charity, or practically anything I said. I hadn't felt like that since school (theres something in that). Instead he got angry, 'can't you understand this is a system', 'you have to be approved by the Iran Government'. I mean really angry, like if it was a cartoon he would have steam coming out of his ears, and a very red face.

Eventually however, he let me apply for a transit visa, but I realised that it was just to get rid of me and my chances of getting the visa are slim to nil. Not only that but I only have 2 weeks left on my Indian visa so it's pretty pointless. Although it's not going to stop me going down to the Embassy again on Monday to continue to beg and plead. I have thoroughly considered all my options. I've been through every alternative, generating alternatives for the sake of iteven if they were ludicrous ideas just to see if it triggered other ideas. I've considered Afghanistan but theoverland travel permit for the Khyber area is currently not being issued to foreigners.

From all the research I've done from people who live there or who have travelled there recently, I don't think its worth the risk. I would love to visit the country once the situation is better. My only other option is China. However, I have to wait until May to cross the border between Pakistan and China and I was told that the situation regarding getting Chinese visas is pretty dire at the moment with people paying 60 quid then being rejected for no reason.I will still investigate this however. Unfortunately I've been left with some difficult choices to make and not many options. Flying is absolutely against the ethos of my travel and is a last resort. I hope it doesn't come to that.

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