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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Planning a trip to America -- part 6- Submitting Visa application papers

Breach Candy (also known as Bhulabhai Desai Road) is a place closer to famous religious monuments like Haji Ali Mosque and Mahalaxmi temple. It also has a Breach Candy hospital, an elite Breach Candy Club, and eateries which are quite popular with the expats.

Breach Candy is a hip place and shoppers’ paradise. This is the place where American embassy chooses to have its two venues, one for submitting visa papers and other for holding their ‘interviews’. The venue for submitting the papers is surrounded by the row of shops selling trendy clothes, watches, sunglasses and has some elite supermarkets that sell exotic foods that may not be available in other parts of the city. On any other day, I would enjoy walking down this street, window shopping but on the day of submitting my visa papers; I was in no mood to do anything else.

I returned to this venue the next day again, this time sans camera. (as I mentioned earlier that I had to waste one day because I had camera in my bag the previous day) the security guard checked my bag, silenced my cell phone and satisfied that I was an innocent citizen just seeking visa, I was granted entry to go through a narrow gate, down the steps into a heavily guarded office. I looked around noticing that there was no piece of art that would have attracted my attention enough to click the pictures even if I had camera on me.

There were five windows and enough seats to wait for your turn. I was the only person entering this office and I submitted my papers. The woman behind the window scrutinized my papers and was not happy with my photograph. They are very particular about the photograph. Photo format should be exactly as it is required. In my photograph some strands of hair were falling on my ears. She asked me to go to the photography cabin and click my picture in accordance to the requirement.

The girl in the photography cabin had a digital camera mounted on a tripod, a computer and a small printer on her side table. She clicked my photograph and then checked the picture in her computer, not satisfied, clicked one more picture and removed the ugliest photograph of me with a full charge of Rs100 for her labor. I must tell you that she was no good photographer With all my hair strung back behind my ears, droopy eyes and no smile to add the rosy-ness to the face, I resembled a terrorist and I was sure anybody would be refused visa with such expressions. Not even a second thought would ever change their mind. Silly!!!

Anyways, I returned to the window to deposit my photograph and the girl had enough time to go through my papers.

‘What do you do?” she asked me when I returned.

“I am a coordinator with a special school, I collect funds for the school, maintain two blogs for the school ( from my six blogs that I update regularly), counsel the parents of the special children, hold workshops for special teachers and am also a committee member” I said.

“That’s not a job” she said, handing me my papers she said, “Write here that I am ‘unemployed presently”

I looked at her from the corner of my eyes; wondering if it is necessary to show salary slips to confirm that I am not idle? I wanted to ask her but I was in no mood to argue. I took the application form from her and wrote ‘presently unemployed’ signing my name beneath those words.

Fully satisfied, she asked me if I would want to wait in comfort and without stress at ‘Stars and Strips lounge’ on the day of my interview. I was asked to pay Rs250 cash (no credit card is honored for this service) and to come just thirty minutes prior to my interview time.

To be continued……

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