Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The handler handles

We had no hotel receipt and no summary hospital receipt. Indian bureaucracy was salivating at the thought of how much longer we could be kept in India. I'm not a panicker but this was too good a moment to pass up a respectable emotional breakdown...

Our handler took over and kicked ass. He called the hospital and ensured everything was ready and waiting for me when I showed up so they would quickly sign it over. He also called the hotel and arranged for them to fax a document attesting to their possession of a credit card pre-charged with the outstanding balance, ensuring they'd be paid in full. We went to the final interview room, shared the news with my very crestfallen wife, and then I ran outside to grab our driver for a sprint to the hospital.

Get a driver while in India. Surrogacy India ensured we always had one and they were worth their weight in gold. Driving in India is a test of courage for anyone but to drive paranoid foreigners takes real skill. And I don't care how safe India can be. I want to know that my driver isn't taking a detour to Mugging Central. You are at their mercy so get someone trustworthy. Once you have them, they literally sit around and wait all day for your call. Our driver was outside the FRRO. He gunned the (tiny) engine and sped me to the birthing hospital.

Needless to say, I got the receipt and - upon returning to the FRRO - drove with the handler to a local Internet cafe to receive a fax from the hotel attesting to my ability to pay. With all of these documents in hand we returned to the FRRO for our interview. Shannon and Archer were sweaty and cranky but relieved.

The interview comprised mainly of my sitting humbly in a chair while a blue-shirted government employee flipped through my binder and collected fees. At one point we were sent away and told to wait. The handler spoke to the employee one-on-one to find out the delay and then came to us with a request for 500 rupees. You got it! Problem solved, I sat back down at the desk, eyes lowered in submission, and collected Archer's officially stamped exit visa.

Holy crap. It was 4pm on Thursday, March 10. We had been in country for 24 days. In my hands were every document we needed to leave India with Archer. The process was over. Now we were just tourists heading home.

Oh handler! How I love thee! Let me count the ways..... 2000 rupees will do the trick? You got it!

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