Thursday, May 26, 2011

Visa Part1 - Sassy Secretary

Yesterday as I'd mentioned in my last post, I went to the Indian Embassy to drop-off my visa paperwork.  I had an appointment scheduled at 11 a.m. with the Head of the Consulate.  I'd heard he was kinda rude and old but as long as he granted me the big OK stamp, I didn't care.

Erica was sweet and offered to take me.  I can't tell you enough how much I appreciated that.  I was going to get a taxi and all and it would have been fine but going through all of that totally by yourself can be a little overwhelming.  It's kinda like how sometimes you take a friend or family member to the dr.  You just need somebody else to clarify and hear what's being said.  The support was wonderful.  Thanks E for being the smile across the room and also the person to hold my folder while I kept loosing it (folder not mind).

We drove in Erica's car to Asa Sul, about a 15 minute drive, to the beautiful Indian Embassy.  It's a lovely white mansion located on the lake side of the city.  We parked right across the street (imagine across the street from your own house is an embassy), walked across and pushed the buzzer.  The gate popped open and in we went.  We were greeted by a gentleman who showed us to the reception book.  I had great trouble filling in the following items:  name, city and signature.  Maybe I was just a little nervous?

I thought then we'd head up to see the Consulate.  Nope.  We were ushered into a front small sitting room with a fireplace, grandma's Florida room low couches complete with palm tree print and a lovely secretary.  She told us that she could help me.  She asked if I was American and asked where I was from.  Chicago.  She then told me that she loves working with Americans and that she'd lived in Boston from ages 9-19 and just returned to Brazil.  In number one.  She began looking through my documents and the first thing that was incorrect were my photos.  I never had any information on the size of the photos I should get.  Nothing.  They were supposed to be 3x4.  Mine of course were huge in comparison so she, even though she wasn't supposed to, broke the rules and trimmed them down.  God bless America and the connections it makes for me.

As she chopped away, the phone rang continuous.  She did pause to answer occasionally and said, "Sir.  I'm busy with an American who is applying for a work visa right now,"  and "Sir, I'm sorry but I'm busy and can't interrupt what I'm doing."  Hmmm...was this indicative of what was to come?  She told me she's the only secretary for about 8-10 different people there.  Yikes!  By the way, did you know that the Indian Embassy has one person whose sole job it is to translate newspapers into English for the Ambassador?  I digress...

She continued to go through the paperwork and things seemed in order.  The only question she had was whether or not I had a letter from my Brazilian employer?  What?  I told her that I wasn't being transferred but moving from Brazil to a new job with a new company in India.  She said she hadn't processed any visas without this so she called the HOC whom I was supposed to be meeting with at 11 a.m.  He didn't answer his phone so she tried the Assistance HOC.  She explained why she called and then he went through what seemed to be 2 minutes of reasons why he shouldn't be the one to deal with me.  He also told her that the HOC was traveling and wouldn't be back.  What?  Wait.  I thought I had an appointment.  The secretary told us to wait.  She said I was lucky the HOC wasn't there becasuse he's grouchy.

About 5 minutes later the 70's brown striped suit walked into the tiny white room.  Sorry Jamey you missed it but he's definitely not who your style icon should be.  More on the style icon tomorrow.

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