Sunday, October 24, 2010

Illegal Overstay

I had decide to return to India from Europe by land - at least till Kabul and then fly. (It was 1978 - Kabul was still a very friendly place.)

I had checked with the Greek Tourist office in Amsterdam - no visa needed for 'countries formerly under the British rule'. I landed up on the border of Yogoslavia and Greece and was offloaded! Visa - go back to Yugoslavia and get a visa. There was an option for visa on landing but only at the airports.

An officer at the railway station was very nice. He sent a few telexes, got me a place to spend the night. He managed to get me a transit visa and I could board the train next morning.

The visa was for 2 or 3 days and I was leaving on the 5th day. A day had already been lost as I had to travel by day train instead of the night train. Anyway, I went to the immigration office to get the visa extended. Looked at the chaos - as bad as anything in India. I thought why waste more time. I am not an illegal immigrant! And nice people - based on my experience at the Yugoslav border.

I was taking the train to Istanbul. Relations between Turkey and Greece were near war-like. At the border, I was in for a shock. I was now worried that I may be locked up or miss the train. However, the train stopped for a very long time and after a couple of hours - they put lots of stamps on my passport and I got away by paying a fine.

The fine pinched!

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