Continued from here
The recent setback really affected my life. I was miserable. I would dream about that interview. I could not think of anything else. Worst part was coping with people. Well, extremely curious people.
“So when are you going to NY?”
“Did you get your VISA?”
“When are you going?”
“When is your last day at work?”
“What date you leaving for NY?”
“Yo Mr. NRI!!”
WHEN ARE YOU GOING? WHEN? WHEN? WHEN??
This question became my nightmare. Everyone, literally everyone who met me, had just one thing to ask me. Whatever had happened to stuff like “Hey, how are you?”. I just felt like either everyone was too happy for me and couldn’t wait for me to go to NY or I was just a pain in the ass and nobody could bear my presence anymore. Nonetheless, I had to go to work everyday and answer this question with a great amount of patience and smile while my insides burnt with the constant rubbing in of the fact that my VISA got rejected.
I have always used internet to find answers to my questions and obviously I spent hours finding more about visa interviews and 214(b) rejections. Must say, I did find some important facts. Stuff that I guess I was completely unaware of. The condition 214(b) is a temporary rejection and reapplication is immediately possible. Feeling extremely relieved about this, I paid my visa fees once again. Such rejections are usually a result of the visa officer’s personal apprehension about certain facts in an application and it is possible that another consulate officer might approve it. However, this was not such a strong point since they are similarly trained and follow the same guidelines.
Not to mention, the endless VISA application form was to be done once again. If you do it nonstop and with extreme care, you will take at least 2hours to complete it. Best part is the section where they ask you certain ‘national security’ related questions like “Are you a member of a terrorist organisation?” Hell yeah, surprised? “Do you, currently or plan to, fund such organisations?” that’s why I earn! earning for family and oneself is so mainstream. “Will you indulge in prostitution while in USA?” Who knows? and more of such questions.
A number of my myths also got clarified. Like “Dress like a job interview”. What I came across was that it is best to dress like your profession closest to look your age. If you are going for F1 visa interview, look like a student. If you are going for H1 visa, look a working professional. Doing the opposite usually adversely affects the process. I was a live example.
I got my next appointment on July 26th, a month after my first rejection. This was the strangest month. Instead of preparing for going to NY (like the last month) I was thinking more about what if I DON’T go to NY. Slowly and steadily I was moving to a state of indifference from devastation. I had begun finding opportunities in Mumbai and was already preparing to move there. By the time the date for interview approached. I was so out of the NY thing that I didn’t really care what would happen in the interview. I was, genuinely, prepared for a second rejection. I was sure there would be no third application. I was done with the whole concept.
My mom was kind of happy with this. She was not only scared of the distance but was also worried about sending her son to such a out and out bold and in a way, unsafe place. Dad has this habit of keeping his calm and being neutral about the situation. I guess he always knows that soon things would change so commenting immaturely is not a great idea. I used to have very elaborate discussions with Abhishek and Chaitra about the whole situation and I must say, they were the people who helped me think logically most of the times. Not to forget my tingu sis, Shambhavi, who would be my emotional relief. It was for these guys that I was able to put up with a bunch of pointless people who constantly rubbed in to my misery. I am also glad that I was living with such amazing kids. Safal, Akshat, Rishabh, Akash n Laksh made sure I was comfortable and cheerful all the time. They took great care of everything when I had completely lost sense.
July 26, 2011 7:00AM
Time to choose my clothes again. I picked up my blue jeans, black shirt and converse shoes – one of my favorite attires. Had charged my iPod last night and phone. I had no plans to sit like an idiot in the train looking at other people because I had nothing to do.
I reached the embassy with music blaring in my headphones. I was already aware of all the formalities. I kept my electronic devices at the desk and proceeded inside to get a second staple on my passport.
Once again I made it to through the poker faced lady with spectacles, digitally signed my application with my fingerprints and sat in the waiting area. Nothing was different this time. The same crazy punjabi crowd and same, in fact more, rush. I also noticed the people behind the counter were same. I also found the shyaam sundari (Afro American lady) who had rejected my visa last time. Her face had not changed. Equally pissed off.
The only thing different was my attitude. I didn’t not care anymore. I found it pointless to feel so strongly about something that it starts to delusion you. I was calm, composed and did not have the slightest of nervousness this time. It was just a formality that I was there.
The token system was not working fine. So the employees were manually guiding people to windows. Suddenly the lady called out my number and pointed me to go the same window. NEVER! I didn’t want to go to the same lady. I preferred to walk out without the interview. I kept sitting quietly. Another gentleman got up and and went to that counter. Now I got up. She pointed me to the first counter on the left. I happily walked towards it feeling so relieved to have skipped that b….
The guy at the counter was an american, considerably good looking, in his early 30s smiling ear to ear.
“Good morning sir, how are you doing today?”
He was so ridiculously happy. As if his coffee smelled like marijuana or his wife told him today that she was pregnant with twins or the embassy just doubled his salary. No matter what the reason was, he was so fresh and happy in his light lemon shirt and rimless spectacles that I looked like a homeless hungry beggar in front of him (owing to my last month’s misery).
“I am doing great. What about you? Seems like having a busy day”
“Haha no sir, this is kind of usual for us. Not a problem. Can I have your passport?”
“What is your latest qualification?”
“Master of film and television production. I now wish to specialize as a cinematographer”
He immediately began typing and referring to my passport. Shit!
After a few seconds.
“What is the program you are planning to attend?”
“One Year Cinematography”
“You intend to be a reporter or get into news ?”
“No, I am interested towards fiction and entertainment programming. Films, television…working as a the cinematographer or director of photography”
“Why did you choose this college and course? Did you find out similar courses in India?”
“I attended the open house, have a couple of friends studying there and it has quite a name across the world. This is the only course that would teach me formats like HD, RED and 35mm in a span of 1 year. So far, there are no courses in India that offer such intensive programs”
“What does your father do for a living?”
“My father works for the Govt. of India”
“Where do your parents stay currently?”
“Lucknow, it is the capital of Uttar pradesh, about 500kms SE from New Delhi”
“Himanshu, this is a very expensive program, how do you intend to pay for it?”
“My parents have savings and my mother has a business of her own. Those should be enough to take care of my expenses for this program”
“What kind of business?”
“She runs a beauty parlor and boutique”
“What is your plan after the program?”
“I would want to come back and work here. I believe there is a great scope for work for a cinematographer in my own country. This course would give me practical knowledge to immediately begin working”
“Well, I guess that would be all. Thanks Himanshu. All the best. God bless you.”
I waited. He continued smiling waiting for me to leave the counter. I was waiting for him to give me back my passport. But he kept it in a green basket on his left, which had a number of other passports.
I moved away. Slowly walking towards the exit, which was much closer to this counter, I realized “They approved it! They approved my VISA. They held my passport back.”
Oh my God! What did just happen? I could have hugged the security guard. I so wanted to dance my way out. Walking normally suddenly became so difficulty. I head dhol playing around me. So wanted to break into steps of bhangra and I am sure the Punjabi there would have joined me without even bothering what place they were at.
It was a feeling I am still not sure I can describe here. I am not even attempting. I was on cloud 9.
My gut feeling told me to turn around, go the that woman again and mouth the words “FUCK YOU!” with appropriate gesture. On second thoughts, I realized they still had my passport. Never mind.
I picked up my iPod and phone and immediately called home. My parents, half expecting me to say something else, couldn’t believe it. Mom was happy and sad while dad sounded genuinely relieved and happy.
On my way back, the thought slowly settled in. And more than happiness it was now panic. Hell I was going to NY now and I was far from being prepared. All this while, I was so mentally prepared against it that I had just not thought what if it actually got approved. I had neither looked for my tickets nor any apartment. I had not even packed to leave Noida. I could see the coming days being crazy.
The next day, I recieved a SMS by 4pm that my passport was ready and I could pick it up from Nehru place before 5. I was shooting a project for Amity. Reaching Nehru Place in one hour was not a big deal from Sector 125. But it turned out it was. I got stuck in a bad traffic jam.
I reached the VFS center at 04:55PM. As I entered, the security guard closed the door behind me. Phew!
As soon as I got my passport, I flipped open the visa page to see if they actually gave me a visa or were just fooling around.
THERE ACTUALLY WAS A VISA!
I read the details. Everything was spelled correctly. I checked the validity.
July 26, 2011 to July 25, 2016 – I was amazed. So first, deny the VISA. Then on the second attempt of the same application, give a 5year VISA for a 10month course. American logic I tell you!
I had my passport in my hand, with VISA. There was no more catch in this NY thing. I was indeed now going to NY.
“Bring on the questions bitches! Yes I am going to NY”
I was glad that this adventure had finally come to an end. I spent the next two hours on phone telling Abhishek, Shambhavi, Chaitra and others about this new development.
However, a fear in my head had now begun growing….it was time.