Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

********************************************************************************************* Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************
Lilypie Third Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ek Delhi ko dekha tho aisa laga :-D

Yup, this is part 2 of my original "Ek Chennai ko dekha tho aisa laga..." post. Its been more than an year since I went for a visa stamping to Chennai. This is sort of a rehash of the same, only this time I went to Delhi for my L1 work permit and Sri for his H1.

It all started a long time ago, (well, not that long :-p), when we decided that we'll get our visas stamped in India rather than going out to Mexico or Canada. Which was why our trip got delayed again, again and again :-p. Finally, when Sri shifted his job and got his work permit transferred, we decided that we had to visit India and that was when we had to have our visas stamped. One good thing was that as an Indian citizen resident in US, we had the advantage of going to any of the 4 US consulates in India. We looked for appointments, but sadly, the earliest available was May 2nd 2006 in the New Delhi consulate. So, very obviously, the whole trip to India was planned such that we could finish the stamping as a first priority :).

And so, just after a day of landing in good, old, beloved Bangalore (:-D), we were off on a flight (again!!!) to Delhi on 1st May 2006 noon. God!! I had been on so many flights recently that I dreamt of flights and airports whenever I slept :-p. Anyways, this time we took a Sahara flight and yup, they served us lunch again :-D, though thankfuly, it was oil-free this time :).

Delhi airport was a rude shock! Its literally like an air-conditioned railway station. Bad stench, flies, stained seats, yuck!! I am not comparing it to international airports but Bangalore airport is oh-so-much-better man :). But I guess things should improve with the airport privatization. The heat outside was very bad (above 46 degree celcius!!!), but somehow we did manage to crawl into a pre-paid taxi and ride on to our hotel in SouthEx, which is very near to the US embassy in Delhi.

The infamous jet lag prevailed in both of us, so we were flat as soon as we reached the hotel room. By the time we got up, it was time for dinner already. We went out and roamed quite a bit, finding no restaurants whatsoever except a MacDonalds. Look at our luck :-p. But the US MacDonalds doesn't have a Veggie burger which we finally ended up having for dinner. Wonder whether they'll ever try to market it in US..

On the D-day, we both got ready early (were looking very smart in suits :-D), had breakfast at the hotel and left for the embassy at about 8:30 AM itself, though the appointment was at 9:45 AM. We reached the embassy at about 9 AM and I was wondering whether they would allow us inside (as in Chennai last year, they had allowed me only 15 min before the actual appointment time). But here they did. After showing our appointment print-outs and first round of security checks, we stood in the non-immigrant queue. The heat was still bearable, thankfully, as the sun was still low in the sky.

We both had a single appointment, so went to the first counter together. The first counter has Indians who do a preliminary check of your documents. Sri was wearing his sun glasses and was rudely remonstrated by the guy in the counter!! Wearing sun glasses was not right as they cannot see the comparison between the photo and the real person, but the guy could have been polite :-p. Well, nevertheless we were polite and smiled and apologized :-p. He also asked us to enter local addresses and proceed. And so the first hurdle was crossed :-D.

Next we faced another round of security checks and were let in into the room where we would be taking our visa interview together. But before the actual interview, we did have to give our index fingerprints which is a standard procedure. We had no trouble at all in the same and later were guided to the visa interview queue.

There were very less number of people in front of us and hence in no time, one of the consulate officers called us. Again her name I know not, so I will refer to her as Ms. American :). The conversation that ensued is as follows:

Ms. American: Hello
Us both: Hi, Good morning!
Ms. American: One of your petition is for H1 and another for L1 is it?
Us both: Yes.
Ms. American: {refering to me} Yours is the L1 right?
Me: Yes.
Ms. American: So what kind of work are you doing in US?
Me: The same as I was doing here in India. {I provide a brief description of my work}. Also, since my husband was posted in US, I got an option of working there.
Ms. American: {refering to Sri} And what do you do sir?
Sri: {States his role}.
Ms. American: And what does that mean?
Sri: {Gives a brief description of his role and duties associated}.
Ms. American: {refering to me} I see here that you went to US on a H4. So did you get a job there?
Me: No, I was already on job here and went to us on H4. Later my L1 work permit was processed and I got my L1. Until I got my permit, I was on leave which was for about 1.5 months. (This was an expected question and I had the leave papers also ready, but she didn't ask for those :-D).
Ms. American: {refering to Sri} Was your visa refused anytime? Maybe once?
Sri: No, but I was asked some extra documents, maybe payslips one time. But it was a long time back {grins}.
Ms. American: Not that long back {smiles}. {Refers to me} You have had only one visa stamped?
Me: Yes.
Ms. American: {refering to Sri} Where did you get your Masters degree?
Sri: In Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi.
Ms. American: Where are you staying in US currently?
Us both: Lexington, Kentucky.
Ms. American: Ok everything looks alright. I am going to keep all these. All the best to both of you in your careers {smiles}.
Us both: Thanks and good bye {smile}.

That was it!! Phew!! She didn't ask for any of the other documents that Sri had painfully put together. And we were out by 9:45 AM :-D. We both were grinning and gave hi-fives as we came out :). Went back to the hotel and called up both sets of parents to inform them the news :). Since our flight to Bangalore was after 8 PM in the night, Sri wanted to go sight-seeing. I wasn't really into it due to the heat. Also, since I didn't foresee the sight-seeing aspect, I had left the camera behind in Bangalore :(. After cribbing for sometime about the sad-no-camera situation, I finally agreed to go. We booked an air-conditioned Indica and checked out of the hotel.

Our first stop was the India Gate. It had been more than 8 years since I visited Delhi and I was stuck by how beautiful the monument is and how vast the grounds surrounding it are. Despite the fact that it was a Tuesday, the crowd thronged the place. The sun was terribly hot, yet we stayed there for sometime, roaming around the monument and reading some of the names of the soldiers who died in wars. Later we returned to the cool car to see the Rastrapathi bhavan, the Lok and Rajya Sabhas and the Parliament. Again, I chided myself for not bringing the camera along :(. Meanwhile, I was surprised at the similarity of the Government buildings of India and US. In Washington, the Washington monument is surrounded by the Official buildings, whereas in Delhi the India Gate is in the centre :). Wonder who copied who :-D.

It had already crossed noon and hence we headed towards AP bhavan to have a delicious Andhra style lunch. After lunch, we stopped at Paalika bazaar as I wanted to buy a marble masher, which has a bowl and a mashing rod and is useful for mashing elaichis etc. We didn't find what I wanted, but we did end up picking up some gifts for Sri's colleagues from the Cottage Emporium. Next we went to Jantar Mantar. The structures there are amazing and it seems one of them can measure the time, the accuracy being within half a second!! I wanted to know more but the information provided next to the structures just wasn't enough. Anyways, thank God, there's the internet :-p. I was able to satisfy some of my curiosity later through the Delhi Tourism website.

Next on the agenda was to see if our visa-stamped passports were available at a place mentioned in the US Consulate website. If they are available, you can collect them there itself for Rs. 50 each and avoid the hassles of courier services. Since we were leaving for Udupi almost immediately, we wanted to collect them. But sadly the passports hadn't yet arrived there in the shipping office at Nehru place and we were told that they will be available the next day, which was of no use to us. We were disappointed, but hey, we tried :-p. Since Nehru place is also the home to the famous Bahai Lotus temple, that became our next tourist destination.

One thing I forgot to mention was that, the previous day when we were about to land in Delhi, we were able to see the Lotus temple from the flight :). I remembered the temple as this very peaceful, beautiful place I had visited last time. The temple is still as beautiful but somehow the peace and quiet is gone. Despite being warned many times to be quiet and not make any noise inside the temple and to control their children, people were making some amount of noise which made the temple visit not quite nice. The crowd was also too big, maybe due to the summer vacation for the children. Some things and feelings cannot be helped, I guess..

Lastly we visited the Qutub Minar. I really wished for the umpteenth time that the Minar was open to public for climbing and that I could climb it, but the government has had to restrict the access to avoid further deterioration. We enjoyed the sights of the surrounding ruins and the Iron pillar. Just as we were about to leave, a sand storm hit the area. My God!! Dust everywhere, in eyes and in hair :-p. Its terrible when you are standing somewhere and are stuck because you just can't see anything and hence cannot move. Thankfully in matter of minutes (which actually seemed like an hour :-p), the winds subsided and we were able to return to the car. Heat and dust is an amazing combination. You should really try it sometime :-p.

That was Delhi for us. We left for the airport immediately and had to wait for a couple of hours for our Air Deccan flight in the sad (again) airport. It was the time for our jet lag to set in and so we both slept in the plane without even a single blink. By the time we reached Bangalore, it was about 11 PM and that was it.

The only thing we missed is the Taj Mahal. Agra is about 2.5 hours from Delhi and there was no way we could have seen it as we had not planned for it. It would have been our first visit together there, but, well, there's always another time. Had it been this time, I'd have regretted it my whole life that I didn't have a camera with me ;-). Looks like all the things are well-planned by someone way above us ;-) :-D.


Soumya retorted...

Wow!!CONGRATULATIONS!!!Great news Deeps...Am so glad everything went so smoothly...Now u can enjoy the remainder of ur trip peacefully...Amazed that u could find some time to write about it despite ur crazy schedule(not that I'm complaining)...

How's the trip so far??Will write to u shortly...My mother has something she wants to send with u...

Have fun & enjoy...

shubha retorted...

hey deeps, congrats on the visa stamping! its such a relief once these formalities get done. am as amazed as soum on how u find the time to blog! keep it up, hope u got my email.

Deeps retorted...

>> Soum >>

Yeah we finally got it :). Its been almost 20 days after that :-D. All of our trip is successfully done and we are in Hyderabad now :). Write to me soon on the stuff you want me to collect. I'm leaving next week ;-).

>> Shubha >>

Thanks, I got your mail. Haven't been able to reply for obvious busy schedules. I am strictly updating my blog only because I have a backlog of posts already, Udupi trip,Gruhapravesha and Tirupathi trip :) and not because I like my blog more than I like you ;-) :-D. Will reply as soon as I'm back in US :).

Meanwhile hae updated my blog with your new blog link :). Looks like you are full-time into blogging now :-D.

shubha retorted...

thanx deeps! sorry didnt mean to rush u to reply. was just wondering if i got ur mail id right.
wow! lots on ur plate there, udupi, delhi, tirupathi, hyderabad?! gosh! around india in 30 days eh? have a safe trip back.

Enigma retorted...

u in india now!!! wowo enjoy ur stay there

wise donkey retorted...

:) nice read deeps:)

but how do u manage to travel and also blog while in India, with such interesting posts, simply beats me:)

Neel Arurkar retorted...

Nice narration! My H1 interview should be in October...

Aj@y retorted...

Excellent writing! I bumped into your write-up while searching for people's experience on VISA interviews. Needless to say, I was also entertained. Thank you!