- Get excited about the prospect of actually travelling to the land of the Pope.
- Open Google and type “Italian Visa in Nairobi.”
- Land on this website. Learn from it that you do not have to go to the Italian Embassy to get a visa. They have a “visa application center” which handles this process.
- Notice the emphasis laid on having travelling insurance. Initiate the process of acquiring the insurance.
- Notice that it says on the website , you have to have an appointment to submit your application.
- Call the visa application center to book an appointment.
- Talk to a someone at the visa application center who will explain that “you don’t actually need an appointment unless you are a vicar. “Sorry ?” “Unless you are a priest or a nun , you can come in any working day between 8 and 3” , they say.
- Ask a couple of other questions , which will be answered with “all information is on the website!”
- Download the visa application form from the said website.
- Painstakingly fill up the 4-page font 4 form , noticing how many times the phrase “family re-union” appears on the form. Find it weird especially because your reason of travel is “business”.
- Fill up the form anyway.
- Gather other documents required including hotel confirmation , invitation letter , letter from your sponsor , their registration documents if they are an organization , and bank statements……..to prove that indeed they can cater for your expenses while in Italy.
- Make your payment for the Visa at one of the designated Barclays bank branches.
- Show up at the visa application center in some kind of forsaken building in Parklands , with the pile of documents and a photocopy of each , as instructed , feeling very pleased with yourself.
15. Be informed curtly that “this is not the correct application form”.” This form is for visits longer than 3 months (Well , may be that explains the family re-union thing??). “The correct form has a larger font” (Font 6 maybe?)16. Smile and say that , if they would give you the correct form , you would gladly fill it…..right here , right now.
17. Be informed that “we do not have forms , you have to download from the website. ” But I DID download THIS from the damn website?!!
18. Try to argue out your case …. explaining that you have “come all the way”. Try to make Limuru sound far from Nairobi. Realize they won’t budge and walk away begrudgingly , after writing down some link they give you , where you will find the right form.
19. Show up two days later , on a Thursday morning , with the forms and everything.
20. “We ingia tu laking leo wanahudumia waSomali tu (You just go in , but on days like to day they only serve Somalis) ” , the security guy at the gate , breaks your heart…..unless of course you are Somali! The hell?! You guys said I can bring the forms any
freaking day……I mean WORKING day?! “Yes. Except Thursday. On Thursdays , we only accept applications from Somali citizens.”
21. Ask to speak to the supervisor.
22. See the supervisor who tells you , “those ladies (the ones that serve you) will not agree” , making it clear who the boss really is!
23. Ask if you can “send someone tomorrow”. “NO. We prefer you to be present when we are serving you”.
24. Dutifully show up the next day on Friday morning. Submit the forms. “Come check after a week”. Well , that’s Okay , because your trip is two weeks away.
25. Stop at the next fast food joint you find , to take a cold soda. FINALLY , they accepted the application. It is then , that your phone beeps. A new e-mail. “Dear all” , it reads , “the pre-conference meeting that was scheduled to be held in Italy , will NOT be held in Italy….but rather , in Paris….”