Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US Visa and all that jazz

Flicking the slowly forming beads of sweat, I looked at the crowd. Like it usually happens in a Bangalore traffic jam, people were shouldering each other to be at the front. I was not expecting this dance of democracy after having obtained an appointment, but here I was, standing on the street outside the embassy with my bowl. My backpack was stacked with piles of proof regarding my antecedents accompanied with a furrowed brow, hoping against hope that I had not missed anything.
After about an hour of jostling in the crowd, I figured out the reason for the swelling crowd, people who had appointments much later in the day, in their enthusiasm to see the holy shrine had queued up earlier. Seeing the situation going out of hand, a security guard came around shouting out the time of the current appointment, suddenly the waves parted to the sides and like Moses I moved ahead smiling. Another security guard checked my appointment document before letting me in through the temporary barricade erected on the footpath. My sense of relief of having made it through a hurdle was soon dampened with the second queue I was confronted with.
After a wait of 20 minutes, the queue started to move slowly, after a series of pat down’s, I was finally into the den. The den had an array of glass windows with Americans safely enscounded behind them. I was ushered into a line by the visa facilitation guy(vf#), surprisingly these guys called one another as visa facilitators as if calling names would compromise their security. Others ahead in the queue had a smooth sailing with their finger prints scanned at the end of it. When my turn came, the American just kept tapping at his keyboard, after a couple of minutes, with my heart in a state of fight or flight mode, The American nodded at the vf1. Vf1 promptly scratched a number on my card and directed me to another counter, when I asked why my finger print was not taken, I got a curt reply “you will have to come back here”. I was now perspiring, my US dream however small it was, was now quickly fading away. In the other queue, an Indian was diligently tapping away at the computer, when I presented my Passport, he wrote an number at the top of the slip and I was back again at the original queue. This time, the guy didn’t nod his head and finally took my finger print.
I lumbered back and took a seat waiting for the next interview. A local businessman was trying desperately to make sense of the American accented English questions in one of the counters, finally the exasperated American shouted out at the Businessman for more clarity and finding it not forthcoming, the meeting  ended  with businessman being shown the door. In another counter, a college aspirant was happily chatting away until it was noticed that he had dropped his passport in water, he was promptly booted out. One more aspirant had an unknown destination written down in his form which his agent had filled in for him, In the interview he was diffidently mentioning a different destination, finally he was also shown the door. All in all, a significant rate of aspirants were booted out from their America dreams.

Finally my turn came, suddenly I had a deja-vu effect, my lab viva exams during my Engineering days flashed through my mind. The guy with a bald head, looked menancingly like my viva teacher, Luckily it was a false alram and without any hard questions, things moved smoothly and I was out within 5 minutes.

1 comment:

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