Finding the Loophole in My Indian Visa Restriction

KATHMANDU, Nepal — My snafu in Kathmandu resulted in me missing my flight to New Delhi and setting out to find a fix — fast.

My cab ride to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu left me beside a travel agency with a storefront a few paces away.

After explaining my situation — having left India on a tourist visa without the luxury of waiting 90 days for re-entry — my new friendly travel agent explained that a transit visa, good for 15 days, would allow me to return to India as long as I was headed elsewhere soon afterward.

My travel agent — whose name I wrote down and promptly misplaced, to my chagrin — suggested booking a flight through New Delhi to elsewhere.

I chose Bangkok.

Whether or not I actually continued there or another city didn’t matter. The important thing was that I could show my booked flight back out of India. I could always cancel or change my outbound flight if my itinerary changed, or if I had one.

With my booked ticket in hand, the next challenge was to obtain an exception to the travel restriction from the Indian Embassy. Lucky for me, it was close by. Unfortunately, there seemed to be little to no possibility that the guards at the gate were going to let me through without the proper appointment.

Going back next door to my travel agent, I explained the latest hurdle and asked for suggestions. I can’t say what strings he pulled — mostly because I don’t know — but he told me to try again. (Everything, too, was above-board, which impressed me.)

My subsequent attempt to gain access to the embassy was successful, and I soon found myself in a small bureaucrat’s office, who examined my travel documents for maybe 20 seconds. He stamped in my passport with a much-needed and hard-fought visa waiver, and I was good to go.

India, here I come. Again.

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