My Europe trip started with a visa application to the France consulate in Kolkata. Four of us were travelling — two from London– and I was the only one called for an interview. 24 years old, female, single, unemployed – I understood.
(I went because everything was already paid for.)
I was granted a visa — perhaps because I don’t know — but with a condition. I was to report to the consulate immediately upon my return or (to quote the letter) it will be assumed that I remained in the Schengen area illegally and all my future visa applications will be jeopardised. (the visa was kindly granted for 21 days but I had to confirm my return by the 13th day).
(I briefly considered not going but I was travelling with friends and somehow, somehow they convinced me otherwise.)
Older, white people at the Mercure. I remembered feeling foreign in that beautiful B&B in Bath earlier last year when I was travelling alone: I entered the small dining room and everyone (everyone was white) looked at me — I sensed the unease but perhaps it was just my imagination — but I didn’t let it bother me too much. But in Berlin, we felt foreign and that was somehow better than feeling foreign alone.
You a Spaniard?
From Costa Rica?
Musee D’Orsay, Paris.
Are you above 26?
No, I am 24.
If you have a proof, you will get discount.
I have my passport.
Oh. I have never seen an Indian passport before.
An older couple from the next table: You’re visiting from London?
(I don’t really want to talk about anything and I don’t want anyone asking me questions about India)
I say: Yes.