Every foreigner entering India on an employment visa is required to register to the police withing 14 days of arrival. That's the law!
But it's not that easy, my friend! Even if you want to, it's not that simple! Remember that nothing in India is uncomplicated!
Before travelling I had to send innumerable forms duly filled, countless passport photos, passport copies, letters of the company taking responsibility of me during my stay, etc., etc., etc., to the Indian Embassy in Spain. But not happy with that, they want to see your face when you get to India! And you cannot just go to any police station! No! You have to go to the one in the place mentioned in your visa.
After settling down in the boarding school where I was going to live, my friend and I headed for the police station. After taking off our shoes (I still horrified at walking bare-footed anywhere), of course, a chubby police officer deigned to attend us. While my friend explained the situation, the cop just laid his eyes on me as if I was a kind of geek. I didn't understand a Word of what they were saying, but the cop simply shook his head over and over again. I guess that my friend even tried to bribe him (that's the way things work in India), but this guy was really tough and didn't accept any bribery (or perhaps the money offered was not enough!).
(Well, I have to say that this photo doesn't depict the police station, but the treasure office. I didn't have any shot of it. So, come on, use your imagination!).
The thing was that I couldn't register there, in that police station. I had to go back to Vijayawada again, since even though I was going to work in the school there, the letter sent to the Indian Embassy in Spain was written by the same community in Vijayawada. So, no need to argue (Indians don't know the meaning of that word)!
Vijayawada is only 546 km away from Punganur. And you may think, 'Well, it's not that bad!' But we are talking about Indian roads and Indian buses here! And on top of that, instead of going with my friend (with whom the trip would have been much more pleasant) I had to go with a not so nice fellow. Thank god he just fell asleep and kept snoring all the way. One jeep ride, one bus ride, one auto ride and 11 hours later, we reached the boiling Vijayawada!
But as everything in India takes its time, there was no need to hurry. Instead of seizing the time, well, they decided we would go to the police station the following day. So, there I was in the scorching sun in this hideous city, sweating like a pig, and waiting for the next day to arrive!
To kill the time I decided to go shopping. That always cheers me up. I wanted to find some shampoo and some tissues (which is also a difficult task). When I dared to get out of the air-conditioned room and into the torrid streets, I was followed by a bunch of kids asking me all kinds of questions in 'English'. I seemed the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but luring children instead of rats! They followed me around for hours until I managed to get lost in a crowd. But so lost was I that I couldn't find my way back! A police officer happened to be there. Noticing how adrift I seemed, he stopped me and asked me for my passport, which I didn't have on! And I didn't even remember the name of the community where I was staying. But the buddy was nice, and instead of taking me to the police station for not carrying any documents (which he could've done perfectly), he just showed me the way to the river from where I told him I would be able to find my way. That would've been another 'funny' experience to tell!
So, the next morning, the secretary and I went to the police station. I was warned to wear Indian clothes. So, there I was, trying to look natural in a chuddidar, leggings and a veil. But, how silly of us! It was the second Saturday of the month, so everything in India is closed: schools, offices, banks,... everything, including the police station!
So, I was trapped in that city for the weekend! I decided to take it easy and go sightseeing. I visited some Hindu temples, I saw a puja,... In the end, it wasn't that bad.
On Monday, the secretary, three Austrian guys and I took off for the police station again. And what was our surprise that we didn't have all the documents required. We lacked a letter written by ourselves saying, in other words, that we promised to 'behave well'. As it was my last posible day to do it (remember that there are only 14 days to register), they allowed me to handwrite it just there. But the other three had to come back the following day. Two hours and a half later I was received by the officer in charge, or whoever that big fish was, and I was asked questions such as: what colour are your eyes? what is your father's name? and the like! At some point I wanted to shout, 'if you want to know the colour of my eyes, just look at them yourself! And if you want to know my father's name, look it up in my documents, asshole!' But, of course, I didn't. I was my best me, I behaved myself and I restrained the evil within me! I, obediently and quietly, signed some papers and finally I had my Indian residence permit! Or that is what I thought!
That night I took a bus back to Palmaner. It had to leave at 10 p.m. but it left nearly two hours later. My friend picked me up there, after waiting for me for three long hours!
Three days later I was told that I had to go back to the police station. Since my three signatures were not exactly the same, they were not sure if they were authentic! Luckily, they managed to send a boy with the papers and I just had to sign them again, being very careful this time that the three signatures were exactly the same!
Welcome to India!