Please just give me my visa and stop making me go to Chicago

Today marked Day #2 of the not-so-incredible Indian visa saga. Day #1 came last Friday, when I failed to make it to the Indian consulate in Chicago before the 12:30pm visa application deadline. As it turns out, the drive from Lewistown to Newman to Champaign to Chicago plus extra time to discover where the damned NBC building was added up to nearly six hours of travel. Strike one.

Day #2 was a bit more interesting, though I still do not have my visa in hand. Let me break this down for you. The Chicago Indian Consulate web page says that I should have been able to retrieve my visa on the same day that I deposited the application. But after depositing my visa application -- at 10:30am this time, well before the deadline -- I was told that I could pick up my visa starting at 4:00pm the next day.

OK. This was a foul ball, not a swing and a miss... but it's strike 2 nonetheless. Let me tell you what the unexpected delay did. First of all, I opted not to take my car to Chicago, understanding what a pain it is to park it for the entire day and how much I would hate myself for having to drive in morning and evening rush hour traffic. Instead, I took the train. To get to Union Station in Chicago with a reasonable time margin, the train departing from Bloomington had a more favorable schedule than the one departing Champaign. However, the train would leave Chicago at 5:15pm, leaving almost no margin for the theoretical visa pickup time range. The train returning to Champaign was more favorable. But my car would be in Bloomington. This bit of complexity was fixed by taking the Amtrak bus from Champaign to Bloomington, albeit the next day in late afternoon. Fine, no big deal, but had I known that I couldn't pick up my visa until the day, I either would have stayed the night in Chicago or have taken the train back to Bloomington and then drove home. Argh.

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