There are many places in the world that could make a serious play for the title as Worst Bureaucracy in the World.
Last fall, the AP's Paul Schemm made a good argument for Egypt.
With his infant son in a BabyBjorn on his chest, Schemm was temporarily sucked into an Egyptian bureaucracy vortex as he tried to register his child.
It was no fun.
According to one study, it takes Egyptians nine hours and 3.5 days to get some government approval, a license or whatnot.
Well, there's also a case to be made for India.
Two years ago, a Hong Kong-based consultancy firm ranked India's "suffocating bureaucracy" the worst in Asia.
"A driver’s license, an electricity connection, a birth certificate – it’s virtually impossible to get any of these without paying out bribes at every stage or taking days off work to stand in serpentine queues, waiting for officials to return from three-hour lunch breaks," one article on the study noted.
I've had a small taste of Indian bureaucracy while getting a journalist visa in Delhi.
It began last fall with a visit to an Indian Embassy in the Middle East, where I explained that I would be heading to Delhi.
After days of waiting, the Indian embassy suggested I get a business visa, which I did.
When I got to Delhi a few days later, a government official promptly informed me that I had come in on the wrong visa. I would have to leave the country and return on a journalist visa. There was no other way.
One can safely say that there are better ways to spend time than loitering around the twice bombed Indian embassy in Kabul as nervous drivers zip down the narrow road.
The guards assigned to the Indian embassy are, understandably, not the chillest of people. They bark orders, push people around and would no doubt prefer to be re-assigned.
(On one visit, we heard that the latest security alerts warned that bombers might try to hit the embassy using police vehicles. And since police speed past the embassy all day, it made the guards even more edgy than usual...)
The Indian embassy doesn't allow cell phones or pens inside. The guys in the visa section may treat your application like a disappointed teacher grading an under-performing student's English Lit essay on Chaucer.
After noting all the places I had screwed up on the application, my Disappointed Teacher informed me that, after a perfunctory check with US security, I'd be able to come back in two weeks and get the visa in a few hours.
When I returned a few weeks later, my Disappointed Teacher had been replaced by The Shouting Man, a guy who loudly berated ill-prepared visa applicants and prompted those of us waiting in the adjacent room to nervously double-check our paperwork.
Of course, when it was my turn, The Shouting Man informed me that I'd done it all wrong and that I would have to go see the head of the department.
Plus, the Shouting Man told me, I needed to have a new invitation letter from the Indian government.
When I challenged him on this unexpected new demand, the Shouting Man actually pulled out a yellowed copy of Indian laws and perused the code looking for a way to toss me out of his office.
After another series of visits to the embassy to meet the amiable -- and helpful -- head of the visa section, I finally got my journalist visa.
Now my journey into the heart of Indian bureaucracy could begin!