The little slice of subcontinental bureaucracy that is the Indian High Commission in Aldwych may soon bring to an end its long history of enraging and befuddling tourists. According to this report out of India, the High Commission will shortly bid "a cheery farewell to snaking queues, complaints of graft and grumpy customers" as it modernises its procedures.
The visa issuing process has been outsourced to VFS Global, an outfit based, naturally, India, which has experience in these matters. In the future British visitors to the country will be able to apply online and obtain their visa without even going to the office. The whole process will be monitored on the Internet, with each application tracked at every stage- a step forward from the current system where a bespectacled gent of advanced years juggles documents by the dozen and takes an unnervingly haphazard approach to reuniting visa-stamped passports with travellers.
Along with shuffling the visa system into the 21st century, VFS Global are also set to open two more central London offices - to ease the burden on the Aldwych office, by some distance the busiest Indian High Commission in the world - and another in Southall.
While anybody who's spent the better part of a day sitting in confusion and tedium wondering if that two week break in Kerala is really worth the effort will rejoice, the local cafes and coffee shops responsible for keeping an irate, barely-moving line fed and watered are likely to be less enamoured by the news.
Organised chaos at the Commission courtesy of markhillary's Flickrstream