Category Archives: Preparations

Show Me The Money – Or Don’t

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Well this is funny; I just emptied the Forex currency exchange in downtown Helsinki of all Indian currency. And it cost me a mere 30 euros.

Turns out they’ve tried to get their hands on Indian rupees for quite some time now, but there just isn’t any around. The little I got just happened to have been traded in earlier.

Which is maybe just as well, since the lady at the counter informed me that in India they still have in effect an old law, according to which if customs decides to check your belongings when entering the country and finds rupees, they are by law allowed to take it. That’s right, you aren’t allowed to take in local currency to India. I’m sure there is some logic to that, I just haven’t figured out yet.

But no worries, at least I got something and the rest I’ll just get at the airport in Mumbai.

Pune

So what do I know about Pune at this point?

  • It’s prononunced [puɳeː], i.e. not “puny”, more like “punj-eh”
  • It’s the eighth largest city in India, home to over five million people
  • It’s located 150 km from Mumbai and more than 500 m above sea level, on the Deccan plateau
  • Between October and March, the average low temp is 11 C, average high is 32 C
  • Cultural capital of Maharashtra state, thanks to the many universities it is often called also the “Oxford of the East”
  • Lately it has become an IT startup hub, India’s version of the Silicon Valley

Tenants Found

After dealing with a variety of individuals interested in the apartment – among them a group of foreign restaurant workers, some good candidates and a couple of no-show’s – I’ve finally found reliable tenants to my apartment.

Which is great! Now I can go out into the world for a while, feeling confident that there will be an intact home to return to.

A Taste Of Bureaucracy

Now that I had gathered all necessary paperwork and had a brand spanking new passport it was time to dive into the much feared visa application process.

I call it a process because I’m guessing one round of bureaucracy is enough.

First thing the Finnish lady at the embassy desk, marked “Passports and visas”, says is she doesn’t handle visas. She tries to get her Indian colleague to help out but turns out he doesn’t either. Reluctantly she starts going through the papers I offer her.

She waded through the pile with a furled brow, and even though I followed the checklist I got in advance, she still was sure that there was something missing. She just didn’t know what.

But they’d think about it and let me know once they figured out what it was. We usually come up with something, she said.

She also made sure to mention, twice, that she felt my name is unusual, and that it might raise questions. Exactly why remains unsure. I did check the “Not related to Pakistani”-checkbox in the online form, both for myself, my parents and my grandparents – yes, they are thorough in their questions.

I was told to call them in one week if I don’t hear back. A couple of weeks to go so no sweat about this, yet.