Those days are gone - at least in Estonia. The European Union with all its bad money management and strange directives have at least made my passage in and out of the EU a relatively painless process.
Visas are part of that curious relationship countries have between themselves where they can exercise their authority on you in a somewhat arbitrary manner and do it in such a way that makes little sense to me and who cares away because that's our law and if you want to come then get your application in order and we'll throw the dice to see if you can come in or not.
There is no Usbek Embassy in Finland. So my travel agent Anvar in Tashkent - who is trying his best to get my papers in order, book (and pay in advance) hotels, and provide me with documentation that will allow me to pass through check-in in Helsinki on a connecting flight through Riga so that I may pick up my visa in Tashkent on arrival, informs me that there is a little problem.
You see, the required information insists that I provide a signed and officially sealed document from my employer. Well, I don't have an employer. I am my employer. In a quick response to his request I informed that I am the director of my own company and therefore I don't have anyone above me who can do this. To be even more helpful I pasted a link to my business registration (from 2000) as featured on the National Board of Patents and Registration website.
Back came his reply, and, well this just wasn't going to work as they need copies (at least) of formal 'paper' documentation of this fact. So.... into the company archives I delved and came up with the papers that were drawn up the day my company was born - Gary Wornell Studios - in 2000 and there they were in three pages of Legalese Finnish! I've been here 17 years and I still find it difficult to understand what is written there. In any case, the official stamp is embedded in the document and shows up in a photograph which I posted off to Anvar. My company name appears a few times in the text, and a few dates, but otherwise I could imagine that the consular section in Tashkent would pass this document around the office during coffee break and have a giggle before deciding that it too was not going to be enough.
|Patents and Registration - Gary Wornell Studios 2000|
So I called the Finnish National Board of Patents and Registration and asked them if an English language version was possible. I mean, I should make the effort to not only provide coffee time humor for the consulate people, but also provide them with a document that at least one person can actually read. 'Yes of course we can do that' came the answer from the Finns - 'and €40 plus postage should have it with you in a couple of days'. Ok still time for Anvar to get these by email and do his stuff.
So, its the sticky-visa phase of my journey. I have no idea at this stage if there are more hurdles to get me past the customs barrier in Tashkent airport skidding into another adventure at 1:30 am. I did wonder though - if I was unemployed - I guess they just wouldn't let me in.