my blog

about Vancouver (II)

The good thing about Vancouver is that it is just around the river bend. Us people from India do not get the whole “Canada” thing that goes on around here. Evidently, there are many jokes about Canada. Anyway, having been there a few times now, and not having anything urgent to do I thought to myself, lets talk about Vancouver with the few dozen people who read this blog.

the interstate 5

Some roads are meant to be fun to drive on. They have twists and turns. They are meant to make you feel happy. Others are just a means to an end. A way to get from point A to point B. The interstate 5 from Seattle to Vancouver falls into the latter category.

As usual, driving at night is the best. You will find the least traffic.

I’ve driven on this road twice now. If I rack my brain really hard for what all I remember this is what I come up with:

  1. Driving back the second time, pumped with anti-fever drugs I stop at a gas station to get one of those Starbucks Double Shot coffee thingies. The dude staffing the 7-11 was an Indian. Neither one of my tam-bram friends – mani/chari etc nor did he bear a typical north indian name – pintu/mintu/tinku. The other noticeable factor was his Goliath-ness. He had biceps like tree-trunks and could have crushed me like a twig. He was incredibly polite though.
  2. Everett is a bitch. Well, let me clarify before people from Everett track me down, tranquilize me with a dart to the hindquarters, tie me to the front of their car, take me up to their city and have their way with me (I have no idea what Everttians do with irate bloggers). Anyway, traffic on the I5 around Everett is a bitch. When you hit traffic near Everett, you are going to get stuck. May the force be with you.
  3. There are idiotas who drive below the speed limit on the I5. They will drive at 55 in a 60 zone. When you find yourself getting peeved at such gentry, close your eyes, think of a plate of yummy paneer pakoras with tea. I have found that helps temper the anger somewhat. Of course, its not advisable to drive with your eyes closed for a long period of time either Smile.

Now, before this rant about the I5 becomes irritating, there is a nice section. It is quiet and calming. There is usually less traffic there. There are mountains (or what passes for mountains on this continent anyway). There are trees. You will know this piece when you see it. Savour it. Enjoy it. It’s the only nice piece macadam from Seattle to Vancouver on the i5.

about Vancouver

The good thing about Vancouver is that it is just around the river bend. Us people from India do not get the whole “Canada” thing that goes on around here. Evidently, there are many jokes about Canada. Anyway, having been there a few times now, and not having anything urgent to do I thought to myself, lets talk about Vancouver with the few dozen people who read this blog.

getting a visa

If you’re Indian, and you’ve applied for a visa to any country in India you know what a pain the whole process can be. There are forms to be filled, documents to be collected, lines to be stood in and the distrustful scrutiny of the embassy officials to be tolerated.

On the other hand, if you are here in Seattle, and you want to pop over to Vancouver then getting a visa is painless and easy. All you need are:

  1. Photographs – feel free to ignore the whole “the photo must conform to these specifications – as long as it looks kind of like you you’re golden”
  2. The application form – simple, straightforward, be honest and don’t sweat it. They aren’t going to verify everything you put on there anyway.
  3. Money – take cash. Cash only. No credit/debit cards
  4. Proof of employment – something that shows where you work

The deal is you go there between 8-10AM on any working day. Enter, pick a number, submit your documents and pay the fee. Go the next day at 10-something and pick up the passport stamped with the visa.

That is all. It is quick, simple, painless.

edit: the candian embassy no longer accepts cash. bank draft/cashier cheque etc only. (via @rahulpm)