Saturday, June 27, 2009

I've Got The VISA Power!

Genre: Life

Three months of preparation for those crucial 30 seconds- this is how I can describe my US Visa procurement procedure in one line!

The D-Day was 26th June 2009. Scheduled appointment time- 08:15 am. I reached Mahalaxmi at around 7am and was thanking my fortune that inspite of it being late-June, there were no signs of rain. But I guess, I did that a little too soon. The moment I took the last turn towards US Consulate, it began to rain. And how! Within a minute, it was pouring cats and dogs! The typical Mumbai Monsoon was here!

Protecting myself, and more importanly, my documents, I rushed into the US Consulate building, was asked to go through Security Checks in a tremendous hurry, immediately put in line for Finger Printing and asked to take a seat. All this was done so fast that it took me full ten minutes to regain my composure. And then began the long wait for my turn for the interview. As a policy developed for reasons best known to US Consulate alone, token numbers are called in absolute random order and called out only once. If you miss yours, you are gone! After hearing scores of random numbers being called out, my friend M who also had the interview scheduled at 8:15am was called at 9:00am. I was not so lucky. I had to sit through the number-calling for another 30 minutes before a male voice in American accent spoke from the loudspeakers- "Token Number 954, Window Number 6!"

Immediately I rushed to the counter and this is the unabridged version of what happened in the next minute-

The Visa Officer (VO) was an American male in his thirties, looking quite relaxed and smiling.

ME: Good Morning, sir.
VO: So, which university you going to?
ME: Virginia Tech.
VO: Why Virginia Tech?
ME: Coz it has great courses in my field of specialization- Wireless Communications
VO: What's a Hokie?
ME: It's a bird which is the mascot of Virginia Tech..
VO: Is it really a bird?
ME: It looks like a bird to me..
VO: (interrupting me, concentrating on typing something) You know what, its actually not a bird. Everyone thinks that it's a bird, but nobody actually knows what it'll come to know all this when you go there.
ME: Ok..
VO: What's your GRE score?
ME: 1460
VO: Smart guy, eh!
ME: (with a smile) Thanks sir!
VO: Your Visa has been granted. Your passport will be couriered to you in three days.

This entire conversation didn't take more than a minute! Yay! I've got the Visa!

When I exited the Consulate at 9:40am, it was still pouring heavily and the road outside was half water-logged already! And the best part- by 10:30, the rains subsided and by noon it was dry again! It was as if the Rain Gods wanted it to pour only during my Visa Interview!

If you think this was fun- wait a's not over yet! The impatient people that we are, we decided to personally collect our Visa-marked passports from the VFS office the sme evening rather than waiting for them to courier it. To kill time we went upto Sterling and saw New York - first-day first-show sitting in the first-row! (Don't ask me how was the movie!) Finishing it, we took a cab to go to VFS and the peak hour South Mumbai traffic played the villain. The Passport Collection window at Mahalaxmi is open only from 5:30 to 6:00pm and at 5:45pm, we were still at Peddar Road, stuck in a terrible jam. Our cab driver suggested we take Bhulabhai Desai Road but it was equally packed. It was 5:55pm and we were still around a kilometre from VFS when one of M's friends informed that the counter was probably closing! This sent M into a panicky, tense and almost-hysterical mood (something I have never seen before from her!). The cab dropped us at 5:58pm, we ran across the road, gave our bags to some of M's friends waiting there, ran downstairs to the VFS Office, had our documents photocopied and collected our passports just when they were about to shut down all counters! Success at last! What an amazing race against time!

For me the last part of the adventure was the ride back home- since I had all my original documents with me, instead of braving the peak-hour locals, I decided to take the BEST's AC bus. I boarded AS-4 at 6:25pm from Haji Ali and 2.5 hours later, using three different modes of transport and spending Rs 65, I eventually reached home only at 9:00pm, beaming with joy, proudly carrying in my hands the passport with the shiny bright US F-1 Visa stamped on it!


  1. Congrats!

    But Mumbai stands to lose one committed railfan!

  2. Congrats man! All the best :D

    But you'll miss IR won't you??

  3. Congrats!!!So when are you flying here???

  4. Congrats on the visa, but your experience does not compare to Mr. Chaudhari's. And I won't ask you how New York was, coz I had the (dis?)pleasure of seeing it first-hand.

  5. @Vrij

    You can take a railfan out of IR but you cannot take IR out of a railfan!

    Don't worry.. I'll continue to be active on IRFCA, albeit from a long-distance!


    {Read the reply above!}

  6. @Zai

    DUH! You expect me to reveal all details on a public website?

  7. @Adil

    Coming to Virginia Tech on 3rd August, 1327 hours.

    My college starts 20th August, so I have time to explore USA till then. Where are you based? We can meet somewhere there!

  8. @Pravin

    Mr Chaudhari had a Once-in-a-Lifetime Visa Interview.. you cannot beat that yaar!

    BTW, for the uninitiated, this is what happened in that interview-

    The girl behind him in Visa Interview line was also going to the same university as him. The moment he entered the cabin, the Visa Officer confronted him with the following questions-

    Is she your sister?

    Is she your girlfriend?

    You want her to be your girlfriend?

    Should I call her in now? You will ask her out now?


  9. hi all.. this is the blue indian's friend "M" mentioned quite a few times in this post! greetings :)

    amazingly written down dost.. n btw it sent me into fits of laughter when i read the part about me goin hysterical in d cab... n u never having seen that "roop" of me before.. LOLZZ

  10. @Jagged Edge

    Now that you have appreciated it, I guess I should start calling you "M" only! (sounds like some Secret Service Spy!)

    And yes, that hysterical 'roop' of yours was fun to watch.. if only I myself wasn't as tense as you that time, I wud have taken a video of it :P

  11. The website here can help you to succeed in your marriage immigration interview. It is easy to sort out all the queries.


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