A Fitting End………

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I have witnessed a lot of grand opening pilots and season finales. More often than not, its an arduous affair to go through a series finale. After you have spent multiple years living and growing with the characters on screen, you develop a strong relationship with them. And to let them go is a hard job indeed as I have learnt over the years. This all makes it almost impossible for the series directors/producers/creators to live up to the series persona by creating a perfect end. A lot of them have tried and failed over the years to my dismay. Hence with the prospect of Californication’s series finale looming large over my weekend priorities, I was prepared this time to lower my expectations and not let myself drown in the utter disappointment that it was going to be.

Only it wasn’t.

The last season was a fitting end to an otherwise wayward TV series. Come to think of it, there is hardly any coherence between the various season of Californication. Its like a big reel of real-life story that plays over and over again in your mind. And I am thankful to Tom Kapinos for keeping it thus. The way the last season was delivered without any fuss was a fresh change from the utter dross that we have to endorse with other series. The last season sails smoothly and gels with the rest of the previous seasons with minimal of fuss and it creates an aura of its own.

The series finale in a similar way is a usual half an hour affair without any magnificent stretching of the plot. There is hardly any oooh aaahh moments and just serves us up with the usual story line that we have come to expect from Californication. The story ends as it started, with Hank doing what he does best, that is writing and fiddling with words in a way no other character on any tv series can. To complement that he also reads it out aloud to let the end come seamlessly and merge in to the story as it should.  “As a writer, I am a sucker for happy endings where the guy gets the girl”. And yet after that monologue, Karen is not sold out completely and as an avid follower of the drama you know whats going to happen next but you won’t accept it because that’s not what happens with Hank’s life, does it ?

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It was in a way the most fitting finale to an ultra cool story. It might not have been the prettiest of things but it was a thing of beauty. I hope the other creators and studios take a note of it and instead of trying to bind all the subplots together and making the last season a mess, they just let the story flow and evolve. As I, as a fan would be on the lookout for Hank, screwing around with his life in a spin-off (hopefully) because as he so rightly puts it in the end, “Till the fuckin wheels come off, baby !”

The beginner’s guide to a schengen visa in India

Background :

A quick google search for ‘schengen visa in India’ reveals how farcical the whole process of obtaining a schengen visa is or more importantly how farcical people have made it out to be. In brief such a Google search will leave the traveller either nowhere or running around in loops, both of which are not ideals that Google aspire to.

So I went through this whole charade of visa process myself a couple of days ago and to my surprise it was the simplest of procedures. Before I describe the process let me iterate the variables involved. There can be three levels of process involved depending on how you apply.

1.) A local agent. The person who deals directly with the applicant based on the premise that he/she will definitely deliver the visa. Since we are complete newbies to the whole process, its normal to feel more confident on another experienced person.

2.) VFS – They are more like mediators between the Visa providing consulate and the agent/applicant.

3.) Consulate General – People who actually matter and provide the visa.

Visa Fees (as of 12th September – 12/09/2014)

* The Visa Fees charged by the Consulate General of various countries is roughly Rs. 4900/-

* The Visa fees charged by the VFS is roughly Rs. 6800/-

* The agent fees is variable. In my case it was rs. 1500/-

Now me and 3 of my friends were planning this trip together. 2 of them decided to take the longer route and apply via an agent. The visa was refused the first time. My friends paid Rs. 9000/- towards the VFS and agent fees and lost it all once the visa was refused.

Saddened and shocked by this we decided to do some manual work and submit the visa application myself. Here are the detailed steps below.

STEPS REQUIRED FOR VISA PROCESS –

STEP 1: Go to the website of the consulate general of the country you are applying the visa at. For eg. In my case it was Germany. So I went to “http://www.india.diplo.de/visa” and applied for an appointment. They only need your passport number and name.

STEP 2: Documents Preparation is the most important part of the process and some agents would have you believe that you require certain documents which are not required at all. Below is the list of only documents you will require for Visa.

a.) Online Visa Form’s Printouts – Filled

b.) Leave Application from workplace/university

c.) Bank Statement

d.) Travel/Accommodation Bookings – Bookings must be made for all the nights being spent in the schengen region

e.) Covering Letter and Itinerary

f.) Travel Insurance

g.) 2 photographs

h.) IT Returns

i.) Address Proof – Can be bills/Property Documents/Rent Agreements

STEP 3 : Reach the consulate according to the time slot. Answer certain questions that may/may not be posed to you. If all goes well and it will if you have been careful, you will get your visa in 3-4 working days. I got mine in 2 days.

The whole point of writing this blog post is not to condone the various agents or facilities involved in the visa process but just to point out that the process is too simple if the official channels are followed and all the guidelines are followed. Its always normal to be intimidated by any new process but to rely on others is the worst you can do. Not to mention the money you save if you complete the whole process manually. Ofcourse, a bit of hard work never hurt anyone.