Saturday, November 03, 2007

Madras Miscellany - US Consulate etc

  • The arrival, immigration and luggage belt scene in Madras airport is just awesome. The newly renovated airport rocks. The waiting area for immigration has no baaeed-smull and they don't throw out your luggage from the belt after it completes one round. Fantastic. Marvellous. Stupendous. I orey yappy.
  • There was 65 year old grandma with me on flight. She was a Srilankan tamil/catholic. A jolly good character. She was under the assumption that the crew alway treats people going to Kerala badly. And so kept yelling at the crew members as if she were an inspector and they were all Yaettu Ekambaram [ the two naught one - four twenty one types]. She gulped down, literally many many, bottles of scotch, beer, wine during the 9 hour flight. Still remined steady. I never eat/drink anything in flight. So she said "dont feel shy. Have a sip. I am like your grandma. I drink with my grandsons". I said something along the lines of "No Mrs Robinson. Take itttt eaazeee."
  • I was struggling to 'ezhuthu kooti padichify' my first Thamizh novel and she nudged my shoulder and said "dont you read romance novels. what kind of boy are you" and then burped and winked. All very romantic. Someday when I get tired of my bad luck with co-passangers, I'll get a hot looking Preity Zinta with sleeveless T-shirt/low-neck types sitting near me, and out of sheer habit I'll doze off by mistake trying to avoid the chick.
  • Chennai Consulate is incredibly funny. There is almost no line outside the consulate but the average wait time is more than what it was 10 years ago when I went for my first visa stamping (the one where someone sleeps in Mt. Road for you all night in the line). The guards have been specifically instructed to keep the line on Mt Road short. So they do a random job of kicking out 11:30 appointments from the line while keeping in 12:00 clk appointments ( I was a 12 appointment). Well, the line is short! if you peep out and look at the gate. So the system works.
  • People don't want to wait in line outside, inside the compound walls, inside the building - anywhere. While inside the US consulate people with children are exempt from standing in any line. Of course not everybody knows this. So once somebody (who is standing as the 234th person in a 500 people queue) sees a family go through the door without waiting in line, they want to go too. Because everybody has this feeling that they are special too. Or at least feel that they wouldn't get noticed if they walk in. When they are turned away near the door, they don't come back and stand in their spot on the line, but linger on near the top of the line. They hope that if they look down and stay disappointed they can continue to stand in front of the line. Nobody counts on being embarrassed by me. There is nothing like taking out your leg-pain/jet lag related frustration on a line-jumper. Much pleasure.
  • It is really frustrating when a person gets to go ahead of you - right when you are next in line to be processed - just because they happened to have a baby. This good samaritan policy is not fun when it does not work to your advantage. When I was in high school, and when my mom sent me to buy stuff from the insanely crowded Bombay Grocers, I used to pluck my neighbor's infant from its 'thooli' and go there. Sometimes my neighbor wouldn't even know her son's gone missing. The kind sottai thalaiyan manning Bombay Grocers would process me first just because I, a 12th std arai drowser, had a baby in hand. I wished I had plucked some baby on my way to the consulate.
  • Although men are educated and all, I guess there is lingering genetic MCPness still left behind. When the consular officer asks a pointed question at your wife. It is courtesy to let her answer it. Of course, I forgot about it. So I replied in a microsecond unknowingly giving an impression that I was making decisions for her. That is until the officer shut me up with a 'nee mudri nee' and pause and then a 'adungu di nee' before proceeding to ask her questions.
  • I felt like the Indian movie gounder when I 'pammikittu' crossed my hands (with 2 index finger pointing out for finger printing), bent down and say 'yes aapicer'. (Watch 37th second and 40th second of the linked youtube clip for a visual description)
  • My luck. The 'aapicer' had gone to Ohio State. He saw OSU and U Mich show up on his computer and the only thing he asked was 'how could you?' I should thank football for helping me with the uneasy small talk in all sorts of interviews.
  • Entertainment inside the consulate is very easy. You always have odd-ball interviewees. Last time a F-1 kid listened to the Visa Officer's question took a few steps back and in what was a 'humor in uniform' readers digest moment, yelled out his pre-prepared answer in military style. He completed his command, received a 214(b) reject and left without saying another word ( I am not exaggerating even a little bit). This time a guy was caught with fake work-exp certificates. Having interviewed close to 400 people while working in Bangalore, I am all too familiar with Mannar & Co from Hyderabad, which hand out fake work-exp certificates. Our H1B man was working in a legitimate company but joined that company using fake certificates. The consulate has a blacklist of such companies. He was busted and tense dialogs followed

VO: Accept this is a fraud company and tell me how much you paid for the document and I'll forgive you. Otherwise I'll ban you for all your life.

Boy: No sir! Actually I was in training....

Everybody began to look at the boy and started whispering to each other in hushed tones.

On other things

  • Its funny Karunanidhi choosing to build flyovers before election year - again.
  • There is a sissy law banning firecrackers outside of 6AM and 10 PM. I plan to violate it.
  • November, Madras and rain. Its all romantic.

P.S: Mannar & Co is in reference to Dhanal K. Thangavelu's employment profile in the movie 'Kalyana Parisu'

P.S: Previous visa interview blogs here and here.


Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Damn, Hawkeye, you disappoint --- you should have read that romantic novel aloud to the Grandma while sipping champagne! :)

How could you?? :D

Arvind said...

Dude I am so envious of the frequency of your visits to Madras! Have a good time!

dushy said...


Interesting post and I too heard of some new change at Madras airport.

Sowmya said...

didn't u just come back from madras couple of months ago? season tkt vechirukkiyaa?

Anonymous said...

Dei B,

Ping if you are free and in Chennai.


hamsini said...

Woah, you're back again!? Didn't you like just leave?? Good stuff! Happy diwali!

Rastafari said...

Once, the 'aapicer' said something that was the equivalent of "koodai vechirukaravanungaluk ellam visa kodukarthillai". Seriously.

Deepa said...

Did you get my e-mail? Wanna ask you for a favor.

Deepa said...

Just realized that even if you saw the mail and ignored, now I dont leave you with much choice.:-)