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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Planning a trip to America - part 5- No camera please!

After organizing all my papers, fixing a date for interview online, and getting all the proofs to show the validity of the informations on the application form, I headed to the office to submit my papers.

Just submitting the papers should not be a problem. Right? But since problems follow me everywhere, they accompanied me to this office too.

The office rules states that following items are not allowed:

*All battery operated or electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, digital diaries, pagers, cameras, audio/video cassettes, compact discs , MP3’s, floppies ,lap tops, palm tops or portable music players.
*All ladies hand bags/purses. Only a small ladies pouch in hand will be permitted.
*All bags such as travel bags, back packs, brief cases, suit cases, leather, jute or cloth bags and zip folders. Only a plastic bag containing your application related papers will be permitted.
*Any food item.
*Sealed envelopes or packages
*Cigarettes / cigars / match boxes / lighters
*Any sharp object such as a pair of scissors, pen knives or nail filers

Okay, I did read the rules that following items are not allowed at the embassy for security reasons, but shouldn’t they have some lockers, somewhere at the entrance where people can keep their stuff if they have it on them?

Being a blogger, I normally carry camera with me everywhere and thoughtlessly, I was carrying one on that day too. The security guard refused to let me in and wanted me to deposit my camera else where. Where could I deposit my camera? I knew nobody in that area and going home/retuning back to the office would take me more that three hours. I was desperately asking for help, but nobody could help me, security guards said that they were helpless, ‘rules are rules’ they said and they had strict instructions to follow. damn!

This office is in a busy area and there are line of stores adjoing this office. Just next to the office was a supermarket that had facility of depositing the extra shopping bags of the people who entered the store for buying grocery. I dumped my camera into the plastic bag and approached the supermarket, depositing my bag at the entrance. I told him to hold on, I would be back and then I would shop at his store. But he refused to keep my plastic bag informing me that he had permission to keep the shopping bags of the people who were inside the store and not for the people who were seeking Visa next door. I tried several stores but none were helpful. I didn’t know what to do? Submitting the papers should not take more than ten minutes but I could find neither a friendly neighboring store nor any helpful security guards to hold on to my camera for ten minutes.

A young man standing at the corner of the street saw my desperation and wanted to help me. He volunteered to hold my camera till I was back. Should I trust him? How could I? He had no fixed stand. It was an expensive camera, what if he took it and walked off while I was inside the office submitting the papers. Where would I find him? I was weighing my options. He seemed sincere and kind (no doubt about that) but it was the risky to trust a stranger. Sulk* sulk*

I took a taxi home, I decided to return back the next day, without a camera.
I had wasted one more day……..

Ps: few days later I learnt that they did have facility of lockers for distinguished guests who waited in  'Stars and Strips lounge’.

More of that later……

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