Q is for the apparatus of state*
To enter the country, you first of all need a four digit number. The country office has to apply for the number, which the government will produce, or not, within four weeks to three months. Once you have your number, you can apply for your visa.
I was planning to go at the end of June, but there is still no number. There is, as I understand it, a certain degree of influence that can be applied to the process, but only a certain degree. The office have been exerting that certain degree of influence, and assuring me that my number is "nearly ready".
However, I am also negotiating something with another organisation, who want me to go to a planning session in New York. They kept their dates open for a while, as I could not tell them when I might be around. But they have now settled on early July.
It's ok, I tell the country office, there's no rush for the number, as I can't come in late June anyway. Ah, they say, but once you have the number, you have only a fixed amount of time to apply for your visa.
So now we have gone into reverse. I received a crackly phone call this morning from man who clearly understands these things in a way that I never will. He will now delay the number for as long as possible. He will send it by the end of June, and I will then be able to delay my visa collection until the 20th of July. Once the visa is stamped in my passport it will then be valid for entry for either a month or three months. We don't know which, and it is not knowable. So I will go on the 20th of August, if I have to. Or shortly thereafter, if I don't.
It will be possible, he says. Inshallah, we both say.
*title inspired by Nonstop Tango's Dictionary.