Friday, June 11, 2004

Ciudad Juarez, The Mexican Experience Part 3 1/3

Mexico, is one of the stagnant backwaters of the world. It is a fetid and festering sewer of a land, where Mexicans are incarcerated with other moronic Mexicans as cell mates. "It's a Third world country, what can you expect", casually says my American collegue, with callous idifference to the fact that he has bracketed India with Mexico. One wonders if most Americans form opinions about India based on Mexico, that should explain some myths, that are disguised as facts in CNN. Maybe, to an average American, the difference between India and Mexico is too negligible to notice. Excuse me, fellow DF'ers if my irreverence towards Mexico offends you. It is purely

So, I land the night before on an essentially Indian lodge, with all the inconveniences and dirty bathrooms that would make the Madurai Lodge, Janitor, olive green with envy. "Garcia picks you up at 7:30", announces the face on the front desk, "he has been coming at 7:30 for
9 years, no reason he not come tomorrow", he answers to those eager questions regarding reminding Garcia of our grand arrival.

At 7:00 in the morning, you find a congregation of Indians and assorted Pakistanis and Arab nationals dressed up and ready for the day. I personally had to get up at 5:00 to be ready by 7:00AM,as I was sitting face down, for 20 minutes, on the bath tub trying to
drain out water. At 7:30, after a free cup of orange juice, from the front desk, a funny looking guy with an even funnier accent comes up and says the immortal words " I, Victor Garcia ". He drops the first Bomb Shell of the morning by announcing that Mexico had already
started their daylight savings time and so the time, in the land just a beetle nut's spit away from where we stood, was just 6:30.

Well! Bombshells, by their inherent nature come as a pair. The Mexican permit, that precious piece of paper which is the key that unlocks the door to Mexico has'nt been procured for 10 of the 29 people assembled. Needless to say I was one of the 10. You know! as much as, you always *dont* get singled out for *that* smile, the cute'st girl in class offers, you always get singled out for anything that will lead you the devil's way. All questions as to why the
darned man didnt get me a permit received vague answers like, "photo dark", "mexico change rules". So resigned to my fate, I let the 19 lucky ones leave early and the only thought, I was pondering over when I was watching them leave into the mexican border was, "and then
there were 10".

Like all other red blooded bachelor Indians, I was counting on being marooned on an un-inhabited island with a girl like Aishwarya Rai. So, curiously sifting through the glum faces left with me, Hey! I did notice a good looking girl, standing worried, with a pensive look
written all over her face. "All she needs is a little bit of bharath comforting", I thought walking to her making up something interesting to say. Well! needless to say, I later got introduced to her and her husband and found out they spoke Tamil. You know what!.. well forget it, I have said it adnauseum. If all the good looking girls are already married, then what about the rest of us. Did'nt any parent give birth to girl babies after I was born, huh!

Okay! time for bombshell # 3. The mexican authorities open shop at 9:00 AM. My appointment with the conuslate was at 9:00AM. "They consulate, no care about time, they let all time in", comforted the Mexican escort, referring to the US consulate as the black hole swallower of Time, itself. To cut the longer story long, I got my permit at 10:00AM and rushed to the consulate, later I did find out a permit was not required?. 1 hr spent in the queue on the road while the guard let all sundry mexicans inside. 30 minutes to find out which queue to stand inside the consulate and 1 hr in the queue to get your photo taken, which explains, the unneccessity of bringing a passport size photo along with us. Right when I walked to the window, the guy took one look at my face and decided it was time to take lunch, so hell! 30minutes later I walked out with my token # for the interview.

Mexicans will never realize that their English is still Mexican, much like our English being always Indian. So the sounds that were coming out of the PA system, were token numbers and the following static, window numbers. 1 hr, agonizing wait, straining to hear the token
numbers , later, I plucked my token number, audio waves out of thin air and walked in to remember that I didnt get my window number. 30 minutes later, I gave up and collapsed on the floor deciding where ever the person in front of me went, I would go. The person in front
of me was finally called for the interview and he was asked for his degree certificate, the only thing he did'nt have. " No one told me to bring it, look! I have brought other documents, take a look at them" shouted the Turkish guy. The exasparated lady just told him to the pay the fee and I walked up to the window with a big "hello" my lunchless stomach could muster up. "Shove it" seemed to be the expression on her face. After, "when did you graduate", "when did you
start working", "show me your degree certificate" questions.. she let me go and pay the fee.

I walked 3 blocks down the road into some cement factory to pay the visa fees. A 2 hour wait later, my concerns were on all 3 time zones, ticking away, closer to my flight time, which was 8:30 PM. I had gone with 3 other friends, two of them were already heading back after
getting their passports. Then, a lady walked out and started calling out names, the point where she stopped and began struggling with a name, told me, my number was up. I rushed outside and caught a cab and sped back to the Mexican Border. The INS people, obviously paranoid about all brown skinned people, did a finger print and retina check on me. Satisfied that my details did'nt match any FBI records, I was let go after a 2 and a half hour wait. The time was
7:30 , leaving me 1 hour to catch my flight. Well! If I hadnt caught my flight I would'nt be writing any of this, so, you know what happened next?

This concludes the three part series of documenting my amazing adventures in Mexico. I returned back to dallas at 12:00 midnight and my home sweet home, at 2:00 AM, after dropping off all my friends. I cooked till 3:30AM and ate my first rectangular meal after 30 hours.

Your, next door H1-B "case"