Uday Hakim, back from Dublin (Ireland): It was the second tour to Ireland. The first journey was two years back. Ireland's visa was granted in just two hours then! But now it took a little longer, three-day. Yet a country visa in Europe is available in three days! Yes, it’s easy to get!
But let me talk something about Ireland. It’s divided into two parts- Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. The country is known for its Norman castles, glacial valleys and mountains, Celtic and Christian monuments, and coastal links golf courses. Capital city Belfast. It’s needed UK visa to enter into Belfast.
Southern Ireland is separated from the north. Its capital city is Dublin. It’s united with the European Union. They will remain with the EU even if Brexit (It is an abbreviation for "British exit," referring to the UK's decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the EU) comes into effect. But those who want to visit Southern Ireland; they may face some complexities with their visas. Only South Ireland's visa will be required.
It was a fine Friday morning. The city road was nearly empty. I went to the airport within 15 minutes only. A long queue was spotted in front of the airport terminal. Why is this? Everybody can go up to the check-in point at every airport across the globe including this one; Visitors or friends-relatives can also walk up to the check-in point.
The scenery is difference at the Dhaka airport. The authority shuts down visitors from the entry gate in Dhaka. I reached the airport on time but scared of this huge crowd. Isn’t it too late for?
I stood on the small line of foreigners’ immigration. I showed visa to the Immigration Officer. Officer asked me, “Why do you want to visit Ireland?” To watch cricket match of Bangladesh national team, I replied. It looked a little stranded on his face. “Are you going to Ireland to watch a cricket match? So far from Bangladesh,” he gestured on me. “Walton is the title sponsor of the cricket series, I have to present at the presentation ceremony there as the representative of Walton,” I answered.
Pic: Malahide Cricket Club Ground in Ireland
The officer seemed to be relaxed now. He said, “I think Bangladesh will do well in the series. Good, good. Walton is also doing well. They have been with Bangladesh cricket for a long time. However, due to the abandonment of match with Ireland yesterday (May 9, 2019), there was a little loss for Bangladesh,” the officer added.
It’s flight time knocking at the door when I reached the City Bank lounge after crossing the immigration gate. I have heard I’m being called by my name. I started running after opening the credit card hurriedly. I went to the boarding lounge and saw me on the back. There is no scope for sitting there. It’s high time we chased to fly.
At the time of the boarding, I requested the guy to fix a seat for me beside the window. But he might not manage it. So I had to sit at the very end of the flight! It’s really unfortunate to sit at the end of the large airbus. Not even beside the window! Before sitting on my seat, I saw three empty seats were at the right side of the flight. So I decided not to sit here. I, then, sat on one of the empty seats beside the window in the right row. Perhaps these seats were kept blank for the crews. I sat comfortably. But it has attached bathroom there! Somewhat discomfort!
Now let's talk about the visa. Bangladesh played tri-nation cricket series for the first time in 2017. The title of the series was ‘Walton Cup’. I was told to go to Ireland at the eleventh hour. It was an immense luck for me of course!
The game was started from May 12. My office requested me to go there on 7th May. I started to explore how to get a visa. It was almost impossible! South Ireland’s separate visa was needed to visit there. Getting the visa is not so easy!
Pic: Bangladesh cricket fans at the gallery
There is no embassy of Ireland in Dhaka. There is no consulate as well. The Ireland’s visa processing for Bangladeshis are being made from Delhi. But the visa application is to be submitted to Kolkata. The application will go to New Delhi by courier from Kolkata. It will be returned to Kolkata again and Bangladeshis have to collect it from Kolkata. I asked some well-wishers that how long it takes to get the visa. “It will be within one and a half months only,” they informed.
After completing necessary work on the 8th May, I started for Delhi in the morning of the following day. The visa is badly needed by May 10 to get the match on May 12. If I can manage a visa from Delhi, I will be able to go to Ireland. If not…! (To be continued).
(Uday Hakim is the advisory editor of risingbd.com and also an executive director of Walton Group.)
risingbd/Dhaka/July 9, 2019/Mahfuzur Rahman/Nasim