Monday, June 28, 2004

Visa Interview

7:15 a.m. We were at the American Consulate, wondering if it had opened as yet. Surprisingly, upon arrival, the security personel outside gave us an inquisitive look and called us to his side. He took a look at the web appointment letter and let us into a small room with a big luggage scanner on one side. Another security personel in there was busy going through the documents of the guy preceeding us (happened to be from Kgp only). On first looks, it appeared as if he was the first guy for the day, but soon it was revealed that it wasn't so. When my turn came, he hurriedly scanned through my documents looking for any objectionable articles inside my folder, parallely asking if I got any electronic items, sealed envelopes, cigarette packets, matchbox and the like. The answer were strict "No"s. He complimented me with the good words "a good man" and asked me to walk through the body scanner. I don't know why but the alarm beeped. So, I was made to stand aside and he ran his personal handy scanner throughout my body. Unwantedly, this one beeped too at my left pocket, which turned out to be empty. He commented that the machine must have gone mad too and let me in. I had to push my way out through a rolling barrier and then entered the Consulate's main complex.

The office was a few steps ahead, and I saw three little kittens walking back and forth near the big door that leads into it. Perhaps some "life like vigilance bots" ;) I had to run through a second phase of security check, and then was led into a room where six other candidates were already seated. The seating arrangement was to be followed in a specific order so that the TTS Visa guy could find out who gets to go in first. At around 7:45, the TTS employee came in and dived straight to work. He called us one after the other, collected the stipulated amount and showed us the way into the interviewing room.

The Consulate has really big doors!!!

This other room had a more comfortable seating arrangement. But before one could dwell into it, s/he had to submit her/is documents and get everything cleared. As of course one could guess, there was a queue for that too. I was worried if my photograph had met all the given specifications. Fortunately it did and that meant no pain of going out and getting it done once again. The girl at the first counter - I don't know why everyone liked her so much. She was just another trendy young girl. Anyways!! I made myself comfortable at one of the chairs and waited for my turn. The old lady who everyone is so scared of had some problems starting her computer and was busy trying to sort it out with another girl (probably a technical adviser). The other Visa Officer was Indian but knew how to accent his voice. The story ran that he's the sought after VO for Kgpians.

An old man was difficult to make understand that he needed to show every single document of his bank proceedings. A person from Andul was being told that he can take an interpreter if he wishes. A farmer wrote his occupation as "Agriculture". A guy accompaniedby a young girl (I though she was his sister) turned out to be husband and wife. Two of the guys were sent to retake their photographs. A guy was rejected because his finacial evidence wasn't satisfactory. With all that (and lot more) happening at the same time, it wasn't long before my name was called from "Interview Booth 2". So, I got to face the Indian guy...great!! He did stumble while pronuncing my surname and before he could recover from it I was there in front of him, ready to face his questions.

VO: Good Morning Sir

Me: Good Morning

VO: So, why are you going to US?

Me: I am going for my doctorate studies in Computer Science at the Colorado State University.

VO: Why did you choose CSu?

Me: I based my selection on the faculty members associated with the university and the research activities going on under them. There is some good research going on there in my field of interest.

VO: What's your field?

Me: Evolutionary Computation

VO: Pardon!!

Me: Evolutionary Computation

VO: And what's that?

Me: Its a field in Computer Science where we design algorithms for optimization, and these are primarily inspired by some natural process, like evolution.

VO: Okay fine, nice! What are you doing now?

Me: I just completed my undergraduation from IIT Kharagpur.

VO: Can you show evidence of that?

Me: Yeah! (handed over the provisional certificate)

VO: Okay! Do you have your marksheet?

Me: Yes, this is my transcript (handing the transcript).

VO: In which semester did you take Computational Statistics?

Me: 8th

VO: And...umm...Measure Theory and Integration?

Me: Ummmmmm....7th!

VO: Okay fine. I am issuing you the Visa. This is your receipt. Good luck and have a nice trip. Thank you!

Me: Thank you Sir.

8:55 a.m. Everything happened as expected. I arranged my documents and found my way out of the Consulate. A minute's walk from the Consulate and I was at the WestSide - Pantaloons store where my friend was waiting to greet me with a smile. Both of us can start packing our bags now. He gave a high-five; I reciprocated. We started walking back to our hotel, and I couldn't locate any enthusiasm inside me!!!


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