Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The year that was - A walk through 2016


We had some unpredictable endings this year. With the massive demonetization the whole socio economic and political scenario shuffled to a point where the common people were pushed to the wall. People but had to be a part of this eruption and were extremely devastated and disillusioned in the process. Amidst this, the two things that came into major prominence are cashless and ATM. If this is a part of "achhe din" I do not know, I do not want to know either. All I know at this point in time is that all changes are opposed, confronted, criticised till they are actually accepted and we are going through the initial phase now.

I, myself, was extremely excited about the move so much so that I went on to voice my adherence on several platforms. Little did I know then that this would turn out to be really bizarre. Once again we were shamed by the blatant corruption issues. A group of ingrate opportunists played it really low. My heart broke several times after that and I tried not to hit the social media - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc anymore. I am a strong person and my sense of ethics, sense of judgment and values are ingrained in me quite early in life. The offshoots of demonetization hit me badly and I felt very small. All those angry social vents seemed preachy and inane and I really needed the sun. And as I was struggling to come in terms with the most revolutionizing endeavor of the government I realized that it's almost new year.

2016 had some bad things in store for us, my family. When we were planning a fantastic trip to Benaras little did I know that a friend for lifetime was awaiting my return. I was diagnosed with uveitis. This was a shock of a lifetime! Before I could decipher the language of uveitis aka iritis I started having flares of idiopathic uveitis. This continued for the next six months and I had to be on dreadful dose of steroid drops. It felt like grains of sand inside my eyes all the time. The eyes and everything in and around pained and my vision got blurry. Those were the most terrible period of my life when I was made to believe that I would not go blind after all.

Nonetheless I agreed on a trip to the US and as it turned out, I got the US visa (of which I have written in my previous article - The US visa experience). As I was coming in terms with my health condition, the trip to the US was seen materializing. The next few days just swept past, and soon I sat myself to a long flight to the US. I stayed there for nearly a month and shared some wonderful memories with my sister, niece and brother-in-law. We went on drives, experienced the feel of summer workshop (courtesy my niece), explored the plethora of world cuisine, I whetted my culinary skills etc. etc. etc. I was also religiously administering the steroid drops hoping that it would be the last flare of my life. Meanwhile my family in Dubai was settling some life changing decisions. It is hard to let go of two decades of assimilation and decide to ask the children to reclaim the culture and living of which they were never a part of.

All said and done, I am a very positive person and I see silver lining in even bizarre things. I am realistic too. I  believe that all endings flower a new beginning and all the not-so-good things in life pass. "This too shall pass" and soon. Have faith. I wish you all a blessed new year ahead. Inspire and be inspired. Love and lots of love.

Photo credit: theodysseyonline

Monday, December 5, 2016

The US VISA experience: You need a little bit of luck as well!


The US VISA experience: Yes you need a little bit of luck as well!

Three months have passed since I am back from the US trip and very often I get flashes from the beautiful stay that was in the US. It was a trip that would be hard to forget for several reasons. These I am going to pen down gradually here. The first part of the US Visit starts with "The ultimate VISA experience". The US VISA - as much as it sounds fascinating the actual process may not be so. But if you are one of the luckier few like me you may crack it just like that.

The ultimate US VISA experience

I did my homework. Yes, quite a bit of researching on the internet and what I realized was that you may manage to get a brownie point if:

You are rooted to your country as in job, property, family. All of these would make you want to return to your country no matter what. 

Apparently I scored a zero and my prospect of the US visit seemed a faraway dream. I am single. I don’t own any property. I am not a professional. All are outright down points towards getting the visa.

I presume, I was snapping at everyone who was already congratulating me on the soon-to-be US visit. I told them that I was not getting the visa. I myself was pretty much convinced of it.

The US Visa procedure has two parts. The Biometrics and the Interview. After filling the form online, I chose the two dates. It’s a simple form and you do not need to know rocket science to do it. I remained honest. Every bit of info I provided was true to the tee. This was what my boss had told me do. By disclosing the truth and the truth only you will most likely to get away with the untoward questioning session during the interviewing process.


I was called in right on time after an initial screening of my passport and the confirmation of the online application. I had to enter without anything but the passport. They put me through a manual security check, scrutinized nails and palms and sent me to the final counter for the photo click. The lady had great deal of trouble getting my snap. She was finding it difficult to adjust the camera to my height. She finally she could capture my photo. She also recorded my fingers prints and I was done with the Biometrics.


There had been a gap of 20 days before I could get to the interview date. I was much before time and it was a real long wait at the entrance. And then my time arrived. I had to go through an exhaustive security check where I had to leave all my stuffs. Yes all my stuffs! I was frisked really bad. It gave me a feeling of being a convict.

In the second phase my passport and the supporting docs were screened after which I was made to wait in the waiting room along with few others. It must have been more than thirty minutes that I was called in for the third phase. There were 4 counters attended by Indian officials. I was guided to one of the four counters. The lady went through the docs. I was carrying a NOC from my boss, sponsorship letter from my father, bank statements, the salary slip etc. The ladies put the rest of the documents (bank statements, my father’s asset details etc.) aside since those, she felt, were not relevant and asked me to wait for the 4th and the final phase.

After a wait of half an hour I was called for the interview. It was a similar counter with no apparent difference from the previous one. One American lady on the other side of the glass barrier greeter me. Then she had frowns on her face. I assumed that she was eyeing through the application form on the monitor infront of her. I was tense. Then she looked at me and asked me:

What is your salary?
Rs…
What do you do?
I work as the secretary to the director of cardiology at….
Which are the places you have visited?
The UAE
Why UAE?
My sisters live there.
You mentioned that your parents are old. Are you the only caregiver?
Yes
Since you will be away who will look after them?
My aunt will come over from village and it is just as matter of 22 days, I guess...
Do you have children?
No

Then she asked me to place my thumb on the screener in front to me probably to match it with the Biometrics. And then, she looked at me, smiled and uttered the golden words. "Your VISA to the US has been approved. You will be informed about the date of your passport collection soon."

That was all!

Still in disbelief, I thanked her, managed to come out and called my mother. She was overwhelmed and so were the others. I went around with a halo the rest of the day. It was an amazing feeling! The day after I received a text from the US embassy to collect my passport. On proper identity screening, I received the passport. My Visa to the US was imprinted there in golden letters. I was granted the US visa for 10 multiple years. What more could I have asked for!