My visa interviews have always been dramatic affairs, where the visa officers insisted on giving me the visa despite my best efforts to persuade them to do the opposite. Take this MBA visa for example. It was my first husband-and-wife interview. We had a cousin tagging along for his M.S visa. So we start at 10:30 for a 10:45 interview. Got stuck in Doraisamy Road traffic and reached the consulate 5-10 minutes late. No problem! if you tell them your time slot they will expedite you and send you in quickly. May, June, July in India is so baking hot that the effects of morning bath, deodarant and Ponds talcum powder is nullified in the 5 minutes on Mount road where we are required to show our passport and appointment letter. You can see the unity-in-diversity mera-bharath-mahan kind of scenes where people from Bangalore complain about heat and people from Andhra start requesting for winter coats :-). A year before we had to do a gig where there is one line to pay the courier visa and another line which ended up with our documents arranged. Both these lines were in non-airconditioned scenarios. You are literally begging for mercy by the time the documents are arranged and visa fee is paid. I guess somebody in the consulate learned about this 'little' thing called Little's Law and so this year they have made the operations effecient by making you pay the courier fee (and visa fee) early and submit the documents 5 days before.
The scene inside the building is eerie. About 600-700 tense faces. All the glass windows to your right are the interview windows. While the initial windows to your right are B2 kind of visas, the F1/H1 visas are in the far end. We were made to sit in the waiting area and they were calling out token numbers in bathes of 10. Every time a particular interview window became free 10 new people would be called. There are 7-8 windows doing F visa interviews. You can hear all the interview Q & A clearly from the waiting area. When my batch was called, my wife & I were #9 in that batch of 10. The first two people getting rejected wasn't alarming, I could tell before the decision was announced that they would get dinged. But I was distracted by all 8 in front of me getting dinged. And when my turn came there was a slight scanning problem with my wife's photograph. So the officer asked me to stand aside and called #10 dinged him and sent him on his way :-). When we were called again, my mind was positively screwed. I morphed from a confident hawkeye to a bumbling Betram Wooster. After the finger printing got over, the interview went like this;
Officer: When did you get married?
Me: (forget date Stammer...)
Officer: (a funny look on the face)
Me: (Say Wrong date # 1 )
Me: (stutter...Blabber Wrong date #2)
Me: (say the right date)
Officer: Can I see your Wedding Registration.
Me: Give wife a desparate look, who in-turn fishes it out like a robot. She is upset that I forgot the date.
Officer: How was the marriage held?
Me: It was a regular...arranged marriage n' stuff (begin to blabber some more non-sensical things)
Wife: I think he is asking how the marriage was *conducted*. (I could sense irritation in her tone. I wonder why?)
Me: Oh!.... in a marriage hall.
Officer: (Amused by now) - Can I see the wedding pictures.
Me: (Hand them over).
Officer: (talks to my wife)(talks to my wife) (jokes) (talks to my wife)
Officer: (to me) So you want to be an Entrepreneur?
Me: (how the hell did he read my essays). uh..mm .Yes! (I wrote it in my DS-156)
Officer: (cancels all my previous visas. He is not returning my passport. good sign). I appreciate you coming with your wife. We don't like people coming separately. Please tell your friends to ask their spouses to accompany them. The chances of us approving are difficult otherwise.
Me: (shamed and embarassed) Thank you!
Will continue with the actual advise tomorrow.