The following blog is 100% true and no exaggeration or fiction involved as in my usual style.
Chapter 1: The Plot.
Yaaay. Onsite. That was the first feeling when I got to know that they are sending me to the You Yesss of the Heyyy. sighh…Little did I know about the complications involved in the B1 VISA!
The VFS website may define the entire process as a simple 4 step event.
1. Pay the VISA fees at the HDFC office.
2. Book your VISA date.
3. Submit the documents.
4. Attend the Interview.
Now here goes the real 4 step that happened with me.
Chapter 2: The beginnings.
Didn’t know the location of the HDFC bank exactly so took one of my friend in the bike to pay the fees. Thanks for the occasional hot days in Pune which made the drive more tiring. After a long 1 hour drive and address inquiries (with my Hindi)to find the place finally paid the fees.Woah. Felt like already I was flying.
Submit the documents in Pune 4 days before the interview. Thanks to the FYI talks with office colleagues for planting the idea of VFS offices are open till evening 5. I carefully collected all the required documents arranged them in a folder and was all ready to go to submit the documents in Pune VFS office. Had no work in the morning just wasted time till lunch. After a heavy lunch started to the VFS office at 14:45 on Jan 22nd(5 days before my interview). I was patting my back for leaving one day in reserve and not waiting till the last day for submitting the documents. (FYI: Should submit the documents 4 days before the interview.)
I reached the VFS office at 15:05 just to know the office is closed by 15:00 hrs. I was thanking my smartness for having one day in reserve and alas….26th Jan is a holiday and 4 days before the interview means 4 working days before.
Heart skipped a beat. I started hating FYI’s. There I saw a board, last day for 27th Interviews. I could see the US flight taking off without me. I struggled to convince the security to allow me in since I was just 5 minutes late. No Luck. I wanted to know the other option I had. One to travel to Mumbai to submit the documents. Or Just pay the fees once more and submit the documents 4 working days before.
Hmm…I decided to travel to Mumbai. After getting a nod from my manager and making sure that all these expenses had to be borne by me. 😐
Chapter 3: Travel to Mumbai.
I tried to gather all the information about Mumbai and from where to get bus for Pune to Mumbai. What place to get down in Mumbai. I was preparing myself for the travel.
Alarm at morning 4:00AM. The hot days have relatively chilly nights. Walked in the freezing night in search of Auto to the Bus stand. Went to the wrong place since the auto wala also seemed to be new to Pune. Waited for bus or cab or whatever to Mumbai in the deserted highway for 1:30 hours. No people to ask or no cabs or buses. Just the board showing Mumbai 130 KM. (That made me believe I was waiting for the bus in the right place)
06:00 Hrs. Finally saw one Auto. Went to him and asked about the buses to Mumbai, he was not ready to help but he was ready to offer me a ride till the Bus stop. Had to pay 20 bucks for a U-Turn. Got the bus at 06:30. Slept. (Cherished that sleep so much). Reached Mumbai finally. I had to rush to the VFS office before lunch. After reaching felt like Work done, now the easy part. As usual I was not right. The security didn’t allow me in with my bag, neither he offered me a place to keep my bag. We just need to carry the documents inside it seems.
Main Road in Mumbai, no place to keep the bag neither any suggestions from the security there to help me with my bag. Ran around found some shop and asked the person to help me with my situation. He was not ready to just look after my bag. He was expecting to see some Gandhi’s (Currency) for this. God, where are the Humans! Height was he was making sure that there was no bomb in my bag!
Missing Chennai. (At least my Mother tongue could have helped me.)
Chapter 4: The Interview.
After all this still I still couldn’t heave a sigh of relief. The D-day was there. Republic day(26th Jan). I went to take the bus to Mumbai and again surprise. All the buses were full since it was a long weekend lot of people were travelling back to Mumbai. Again had to run around just to find a bus for almost double the normal rates. Reached Mumbai at night 01:00Am. No cabs around, no friends in Mumbai and no place to go. Visa Interview at 07:00.
Finally, got one cab. Explained him my need of a hotel. He was so extra ordinarily polite which raised doubts in me. Finally went to a Hotel near the VFS office at 02:00 Hrs and they charged 1 grand just for 4 hours. Felt the pinch. As luck could have it, my miseries didn’t stop there. All cash I withdrew from the ATM had a cut. All notes were cut at the top which I didn’t realize till then.
Chapter 5: (Anti) Climax
Had to fight with the cab fellow who was charging me triple the normal fair. He was not ready to accept the cut notes and I didn’t have any other cash in my account as well to withdraw and give. Searched my wallet just to find enough proper notes to pay him. Checked out the hotel room at 06:00 Hrs. God started smiling, the hotel guy didn’t mind the cut notes. Off to VFS office. Finally the interview was done. Got B1. Now I could see the flight with me in it.
Called my parents and my friend to share the news. No money to come back to Pune. My alternate account had enough cash to help me reach back Pune. ATM’s not working. Just managed to get a cab and paid him after coming to Pune from my friend’s wallet.
Anti Climax: Just got a single entry VISA valid only for 3 months.
P.S: Please do not ask whether my Hindi has improved or the reason for the single entry Visa. Lessons Learnt.