Do you wanna go to phoren country?
A dear friend of mine went through the U.S. student VISA process recently. And it took him somewhere around four months. Four months! Ok, three. I exaggerate a bit but isn't it equally infinite? Seriously, you people have to go through it to believe it. I mean I was not even the one involved but just by talking to him during that period of three months I realized how sinister it all was. Every fluctuation in his mood and nerve was linked to the nod and shake of the heads of holy men and women sitting behind the bullet-proof glasses of the hallowed consulates.
To start with, there are hordes of consultants sitting all over the by-lanes of each town and city. They promise to hand pick you from your mother’s nest and deliver you straight into the arms of the elitist balding American professors. Only thing is, they charge a bomb for doing this. Some where around fifty thousand rupees. Fifty thousand? That is like two return trips to Zurich from Delhi! And they make you sit in these tensed looking rooms and explain to you what you should eat, drink, wear, spray and gargle on the day of the interview. And you obviously nod as you digest each of their ominous words because you are nervous as hell. Then after lecturing you on the code of conduct and etiquette in their fake accents , they give you only fifteen hundred books to read till the d-day arrives. Right, you can do this. So you sit up while the entire world is having fun and read memoirs of people from Nagaland and Kota recounting their VISA interview glories.
As the day comes close, you start palpitating faster and reacting slower to all stimuli around you. When finally it is just around the corner, you go into your shell because you have been bamboozled by numerous career coaches, education consultants, books and Internet articles and you feel like a lost Nazi asked to feed rice to Sri Lankan green pigeon in punishment of your deeds (or something as weird). Then you travel two days before to the state where the consulate is located, pay exorbitant tariffs to hotels close by and circle around the building at night, like they pasted the questions to be asked the next day on the walls.
The day of the interview. You have to take around three hundred and forty nine documents and their seven hundred and twenty six photocopies to the consulate. You reach there three hours before and stand outside looking at the faces of people stepping out and sometimes even mob some of them like they were film stars, asking them questions and they field it like you were journalists from NDTV. When finally you start going through the security checks, you knew it is finally here. But only, it is not. Because the security process takes somewhere close to two hundred and fifty minutes. They make you drink so much water from the bottle you are carrying that you want to occupy the nearest loo for eternity. Then they ask for the papers you are carrying and scrutinize them with expressions that make you feel like you are going to die. You are suddenly asked to head to one of the bullet-proof glasses where some Americans seem to be sitting stone-faced. You shove your chest out, put on your best walk and plaster the sweetest smile on your face. As you reach them feeling somewhat confident, they ask you if you are unwell to walk with your butt jutting out in that odd way and your teeth showing as if your gums hurt. You mutter something embarrassedly.
“Stamped” they shout and you are jolted back to reality. You stand dumb for a second feeling they will bedeck you with the Miss Universe diamond studded crown very soon. Then they abruptly ask you to leave the room and let the next person come in. Of course, you stammer and stagger with a giggle like a girl. You come back elated and drunk with success. Some nervous hopefuls mob you this time and you feel particularly special. But in all the adulation from fans and media, you suddenly wonder where the education consultants, career coaches, internet articles, books, journals and counseling sessions helped. You stumble back home, wondering about the same thing all the way.
Meanwhile, you start getting calls for parties and treats by the time the news has traveled to the entire world and you make promises to one hundred and seventy three people. Only that when you take out your wallet upon reaching home to pay the auto-rickshaw guy, the lone hundred rupee note winks at you naughtily. Where is the rest of my…. Oh, now you get it. So this is where all that helped! Well it made your ‘load’ lighter. Sure.