Impermeable permits potentially permissible
Leh, Ladakh/Mundgod, Karnataka/Delhi
You may be wondering about the next chapter in the Adventures of Sirensongs. So am I. Following my semi-formal plan to follow the Dalai Lama around India for as long as possible, the next step should be Mundgod, Karnataka, in south India, where His Holiness will be teaching in January.
Mundgod is an official Tibetan Refugee area and as such requires a Protected Area Permit for stays of more than a day or so. Of course, this is an ordeal to obtain. It can only be gotten from the Delhi Bureau of HH the Dalai Lama and for some reason, takes up to 8 weeks to obtain.
I am having difficulty finding out anything about Mundgod. It's on the map, but is not listed in any India guide book, perhaps because of the permit requirements. (However Bylekuppe refugee area, which also requires a permit, is listed in these books.)
So back in the 2nd week of October, I got all the necessary elements (photocopies of passport and visa, passport size photos, etc) together and sent them via Speed Post/Registered Mail to the Bureau. (Just the trip to the deserted, forlorn Leh post office was like a parody of a post office. There were no staples in the stapler, no glue in the glue pots - Indian stamps require extra glue to be added - and they tried to sell me an extra stamp instead of just giving me my 5Rs change. AND the guy huffed and puffed indignantly when I insisted on getting my 5Rs. There was 5Rs sitting right in front of him in a dish.)
I sent off all the materials in plenty of time, and followed this up with a long distance phone call to the Delhi office to confirm, plus an email. Only yesterday (more than one month later) I received this reply:
Dear Ms ___:
Till today I didn't receive your mail so I couldn't write you reply of your messages. Regarding your protected area permit case, I check in the registered book whether your name is light in the book or not. At last i found and submission date is 11.10.2007 and your pap reference # is 362 as per our office records. Normally it takes three month to get the PAP sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs Rehabilatation Wings office, Govt. of . In our office, PAP dealing officer staff is Mr.T. C. and please contact with him. If I have got a time I will help you a bit.
IF he has time to do his job, he might help me out a bit. Somehow, the period of time to get a permit has magically extended from 8 weeks to THREE MONTHS.
Looks like there is a trip to the Delhi Bureau in my near future.
I wonder why Dharamsala itself, with all the refugees there (and the occasional story of a captured Chinese spy), is not a Protected area? Let's just be grateful for small wonders.
However, I am looking forward to a winter in South India, which is the only time to be there (in December and January it's heaven. After February, it is just too hot). There is a great deal to see in Karnataka state - lots of Indian historic sites I have yet to see, like Hampi/Vijayanagar, Belur, Halebid, Mookambika Devi temple, Sravanabelagola and of course, my old stomping ground of Mysore (home of the best Ayurvedic massage that I know of).
Days of future passed
Thanks to Facebook, I am now back in touch with my erstwhile New York City boss, Ed Steinberg of Rockamerica Music. He recently dug up this vintage photo of Yours Truly circa 1983. Enjoy! Thanks to Ed.
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