travelling (i)

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.


Elevator, Nice.

Nice hat.

Thank you.

You a Spaniard?



No, Indian.






From Costa Rica?

No. India.

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.

Yes, sure.

Oh. I have never seen an Indian passport before.


Restaurant, Paris.

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.


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