If there’s one thing desis learn to do early, it’s to wait in line. Years of living in crowded countries make sure of that. You’d think Russians under communism would be the world champions of waiting. But Hindu mythology mentions sanyasis who went so deep into meditative penance, they were slowly covered by creepers and anthills.
Sanjai L. Shah knows the meaning of waiting. As Ennis posted earlier, he’s spent the last year camping out at the Nairobi airport waiting for British citizenship:
In 2004, Mr. Shah received a British passport and headed off to London. But he made a critical error. He bought a one-way ticket, raising the suspicions of immigration authorities at Heathrow Airport… Before he was put on a plane back to Nairobi, the ominous words “PROHIBITED IMMIGRANT” were stamped into his British passport. His Kenyan passport had already been cut by British consular officials in Nairobi… [NYT]
He feared if he tried to leave the airport he would be arrested by Kenyan police and imprisoned… His wife, Rashmita, and son, Veer, who have Kenyan passports, have visited him every few days, bringing food and clean clothes. [BBC]
But what’s in a year? To a religion which measures times in yugas, a year is less than the time it takes for Brahma to reach for His electric toothbrush in the morning. Now the Brits have poured a spot of tea, taken a puff from a pipe and said, ‘Really, old chap, is all this quite necessary?’ They just granted Shah full citizenship:
… now Mr Shah has been told by officials from the British High Commission in Nairobi that his application for a full British passport has been approved… A spokesperson at the High Commission said the decision had nothing to do with what he described as the pointless protest that Mr Shah has conducted for the past year. [BBC]
But they set up the bureaucracies in India and Kenya to begin with. They oughta know the perseverance necessary to get anything done under those systems. A few years ago, my uncle spent an entire day with me going door-to-door to Delhi ticket counters to get a single flight changed. He’d asked if my outbound was confirmed; I said no, I’d do it over the phone. Ten minutes later, he’d almost stopped laughing.
Last December, after liberalization was underway, I made some flight changes. Three of them. Over the phone. In the middle of the night. Sanjai Shah is an ascetic in comparison.