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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    June 10, 2003
     

    General


    Once again a long delay in updating. I was at Madras for a long weekend, company paid trip. I had to attend a visa interview at the US consulate there. The procedures to get an interview there were elaborate (with the US immigration department changing its rules/mind every alternate week on which category of applicants needed to go through personal interviews and who could or could not use the dropbox) and so was the whole process of getting in.

    Having secured an elusive 845 am slot for the visa interview, I landed up with a colleague (who had her interview at 930 am) at around 830. There was a short queue to get to the main gate. At the main gate, the guard halted us and lined up the 845 am interview candidates in order. There was a lady who had an 830 am interview but she wasn't let in because of security reasons. Apparently the lipstick she had was a weapon of mass destruction and she was given a choice between disposing it off on the road (it may have been bought only the previous day, from her reaction) and not getting in for the interview. She chose the former option rather reluctantly. I guess the reason lipsticks are considered WMD is because they could be used to scribble hate messages about the US government and Dubya on the walls of the consulate.

    After that there was a screening to make sure the guard did his job properly. Then there was a longish queue to pay the TTE services agent his due and then another queue to pay the fees. It was well past 9 am by now. Appointment? What appointment?Then one part of the visa fees are paid and we're directed to any of the other 4 queues. Unfortunately I didn't know that you had to arrange your documents in a specific order. So having stood for nearly 20 minutes in the queue, I was asked to go back and arrange the documents according to some order specified on a notice board. Thankfully I didn't have to go through the queue the second time around and I managed to clear that round and go to the main coliseum where the interviews actually happened after collecting a token.

    Interview is a bit of a misnomer. You're called out in order of the number specified on your token. The chap who calls out the numbers makes it out to be something like you're joining the armed forces. You're expected to stand one behind the other. The non-conformist that I am, I just couldn't be bothered to show my subservience to the US government. So I sat down comfortably reading a special issue of Newsweek published in the aftermath of the Columbia space shuttle crash.

    My turn then arrived and while others were extremely docile and said 'Hello, Good morning Sir' to the chap who was doing the interview, I just said a casual 'Hi'. He asked me where I worked, what I did and what kind of work would I be doing when I went to the US on deputation from my current organization. I gave him the answers he needed, stressing repeatedly that I had no wish to spend more than 45 days in his country.

    This is where the cruelty and heartlessness comes in. Instead of at least a polite 'Thank you. You will be granted a visa', he just said 'You can go and pay the money at counter 1'. Really ridiculous. So I went and paid up the money and came out of the consulate where a herd of autodrivers beckoned me to take a ride in their vehicle. On inquiring the fare, I was told Rs. 100. I asked him if he was charging in US dollars and proceeded to take walk for some time until I was out of the consulate vicinity and took an autorickshaw who quoted the correct fare.



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