Destination, Distinction or disarray?

The Visa process has been bothersome for me, and the worldview was divided- "but it isn’t", "but it is"! And the opinions flew rapidly all around me with experts opining their knowledge on the visa procedures!

I firstly could not put the application form together immediately! Why? I had no idea where my education certificates were! I have never needed to show them as proof to anybody! My sister kindly volunteered to look for them and moved heaven n earth to find those papers- voila! Finally
I was equipped to apply with all armoury, Bless her!

The application was filled by the travel agent, I cursorily glanced through it, not really reading anything- and autographed it with a flourish, in my mind I was saying, “America, here I come”! And the form was submitted to the the US Embassy

Can anybody be so wrong as I was! That one mistake of not looking through all details had me anxious n stressed n agonized n...for ever! The information regarding my name, my address, my job details was so wrong! Who had filled this form? My travel agent. Who had signed this form? Mee! So who was to be blamed here for these mistakes - definitely Mee, because I didn’t take the pain to pour over it!

My interview was now about 12 hours away, and the Travel agent goes online and corrects the mistakes, and submits it all over again!

Morning dawns, I take a printout of the final submitted form, and bravely quell all the nervous ticks and frustration by outwardly expressing calm and being my normal self, I head to the Visa application office, from there get into a rickety, dirty, smelly, sweaty, tin trap called a bus that takes me to the consulate where I get a token and wait for my turn to be interviewed

Now all that angst n anxiety yday and day before and the day before – all of it has created a nervous churn in my tummy and I do my utmost to take my attention away from my nervousness by concentrating on the fellow Indians who are all patiently waiting their turn, some look grim, some nervous, the kids chirp normal and the parents look furtively around. All this stress for what, I ask! Too bad I will not get the Visa- their loss not mine I said bravely to myself. That’s when my nervousness’ stopped n calm returned, My name was called out, I went and cheerfully told them about the award and my trip for the 2 questions that were asked by a perfectly pleasant American lady, and I was outta there! Done! I still dont have a clue if I have got the visa or not, I will only know that when my passport eventually reaches me.

So what was the agony about, I ask myself? I think it all, now boils down to my burning desire, to see the USA- I have been all over the world even to some remote, less traveled paths abroad- but USA has always eluded me- as a client , Starbucks left before they came to India, Mary Kay is here but has an Indian managing the affairs, so what were my chances of getting to the States. You might ask why did I so badly wanted to go there? I am not sure...!

America's marketing of itself has been too effective I think. Schoolchildren can recite its claims to democracy, liberty and equal opportunity as readily as they can associate McDonald's with family fun and Nike with athletic prowess.

On the other hand - much anger too is directed at the U.S. it stems from a belief--voiced as readily in Argentina as in France, in India as in Saudi Arabia--that the U.S. already demands far too much "consistency and discipline" from other nations; that beneath its stated commitment to democracy and sovereignty, it is deeply intolerant of deviations from the economic model known as the "the Washington Consensus."

To my mind the strongest "brand attribute," that shines for the States is its embrace of diversity. Like Bush argued, "in a free society, diversity is not disorder. Debate is not strife."

Not sure if I wanted to close this with a Bushism, but as it turns out , it does capture it for me!


JJJ said...

....U.S. already demands far too much "consistency and discipline" from other nations.....

That is so damn true ..

I had a dream. I had a dream to go to Australia to study... My patience was tried,tested and raised to a new level. Putting the application together by myself with expensive conuslting fees and then anxiously waiting for that call confirming my was unreal.

Nobody seemed to understand except me that I wanted to be in Melbourne atleast a day before the Orientation Programme..No. no. no it was too hard for everyone..

My rage ,today, amuses me. But was it unreasonable?

There are problems close to home too. The Indian High Commission to Melbourne is absolutely slack. One would expect them to pull up their socks and move fast for students who are lost in a foriegn country.... but way too much to ask for!

So I conclude...Governemnt Agencies don't actually belive there is anything wrong with the way they function! Alas!

Anika said...

Oh man, i totally empathize with you. God knows i can completely relate to this scenario considering the numerous times ive stood outside the consulate people-watching for hours.
If its any consolation, im pretty sure they only take your passport if you are getting the VISA, otherwise they let you walk out of the consulate with it, and completely devoid of joy or patience.
I have a good feeling about this! Fret not! :D

Raj said...

this visa acquiring process seems like an entire journey in much bollywood

Diwakar said...

It was great being part of the team that led this climb on Mount-Visa.

Saw that restlessness in you--and wondered how come i was so calmn.

actually i was damn buck knee-d...and kept telling you its ok....nothing to worry about...we have the right credentials for this...but realised that i was saying all this to draw strength from you.

It so funny....good part was that it felt like school. The only difference that getting punishment in school was fun, here...punishment means banishment from the hope of landing in the land of google and starbucks.

You rightly said it....such security measures represent extreme paronia...but then that is required to checkmate chaos. I would anyday go with such measures in India, provided they make the place safe.

Coming back to visa, what is most amusing is to see people who come out of those chocklate coloured wooden boxes to be back born again ready to leave for US. The faces tell it all. The amused look gives-" what the heck, i knew it would be easy-and these counsellors are so cagey". The pissed off look says-damn it, dont want to go to US if this is what they make you go through.". The conquered look-" did it" and i-am cool look-" i knew i was good( though feeling the tremors deep down in heart".

Whatever it was, its an experience.And makes us wiser, not for ourselves but for others who wish to apply for US visa.

shall we pack !

lilram said...

Meenakshi- some thoughts on your what you have remarked:

The US has managed a couple of things really well and we have to give them credit for that-

I would accord the US the position of having established the modern concepts of freedom, democratic governance and a federal structure (yes, I know ancient India/ Greece had city states and ganatantra, there was the Magna Carta and the British parliament; still, creating a modern nation founded on some sound principles is a great contribution)

Next, for well more than a century now, they have lead with science & technology and probably innovations in education, music, architecture, sport among many other forms of human endeavour where they have excelled.

Consequently and more so, post world war II, we are kind of living in the American civilization (if you want to call it that) with their economic and military power at their zenith . Much of what we do is influenced by initiatives originating in the US- including blogging!

They have also managed successfully for over 200 years now, to have their citizens believe passionately that they are living on the best place on earth.

Having said that, I feel saddened that some of their illiberal actions are taking them in quite the opposite direction with adverse consequences that will resonate into the future.

Having been there over 10 times, I must encourage you to have your fill of the place- you'll like it for sure.

Shylaja said...

Well, I have been the closest and glued in spectator for all your US pre interview agonies!! But I was 101% sure that the interview will be a cake walk for you!!!and so it happened...

Mee said...

Bless you Shylaja;-)