Together with several people whose names will be familiar to readers of this blog, I have been asked to speak at the 2010 Global Tobacco Networking Forum, "the greatest interactive tobacco talk-show on Earth", in Bangalore next month.
When I was invited a few months ago I was genuinely excited. I've always wanted to visit India, partly because my father was born in Calcutta (in 1930). Anyway, with less than five weeks to go before we fly out it's getting a bit complicated.
First, GTNF is the same week as the Conservative conference in Birmingham where Forest and The Free Society are hosting two events including a Save The Great British Pub party that finishes a few hours before my flight departs from Heathrow.
Second, I need a business visa. To get one I need a letter of invitation "from the host organisation in India". (To the best of my knowledge, however, the host organisation is based in America.) I then have to arrange an appointment with an agency in London who will do the rest of the paperwork for me (for a fee).
Third - and this is the bit I am really not looking forward to - I have to be inoculated against various diseases.
Yes, it's just like attending the Labour party conference!
A colleague today sent me a list of "India vaccine recommendations". "It looks like you need A LOT!!!" she wrote, barely concealing her mirth. "Some have been left too late. I spoke to the Indian Embassy and they said that you need to talk to your GP to confirm what you need."
Here's the list. (Those marked with an asterisk are "sometimes recommended".)
Typhoid (10 days before travel)
Hepatitis A (2 weeks before travel)
Diphtheria (3 months before travel)
Tuberculosis (3 months before travel)*
Hepatitis B (2 months before travel)*
Rabies (1 month before travel)*
Cholera (2 weeks from travel)*
Japanese B encephalitis (1 month before travel)*
Meanwhile a friend who travels to Hyderabad regularly has emailed to say that I should get a tetenas jab as well. Helpfully, he adds, "If you can get a flu jab I would get that too."