Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why we need friends?

Sometimes we attach undue importance to things around us. It happened with me also.

I have been planning to persue my higher studies ambition and got admit into one university also. So my US visa is coming up. The visa deal is giving me nightmares. I have been reading about it in multiple forums. There are loads of information on this. The visa process itself is very tiring. Initially I was completely clueless as what to do next after I have recieved my I-20 from the university. Then one of my friend gave me a document where the visa process was listed step wise. Exactly the thing I wanted. I went through it.
I filled up the visa forms online and provided informations to the best of my knowledge and which were true. I had read many students visa experiences, and the reject cases were where they have provided contradictory informations or something which showed that the student is trying to hide something. Although the student may have honest feelings but the visa officer will only think he is a potential immigrant. Moreover, the visa approval or rejection is solely on the visa officer. If he wishes it to be approved, he will approve, he can put it in hold or he can reject. Honesty is the only thing we can show.
So my forms are filled up, I took their prints, put them in my office drawer and leave for home. The visa date is 2 weeks away. These 2 weeks I am collecting and arranging my finances and necessary documents. I am being particularly careful about their genuineness. All this 2 weeks I am thinking only about visa. If visa is approved then no issue but what if I am given a reject. All the visa procedure to be repeated again and I would have to complete all this in 1 month, thats the time I'll be in Noida after which I'll leave for my hometown. All these thoughts were my food and water for 2 weeks.
2 days before the D-day, I brought the visa forms from office to home. I had a look at it. All information seems good but I noticed in the permanent address column of one of the form, I had mentioned my current address, the Noida address, which I would be leaving in 1 month. At that time I didn't care. Then I arranged my documents in my folder.
You wouldn't believe but the night before the D-day, I even saw a dream where my visa was rejected and I am devastated, thats when I woke up, 1 hour before my scheduled time of getting up for that day. I woke up with my hands and feets shaking but then I thought its merely a dream. That helped me cool down a bit. I thought of looking into my documents once again and I saw the faulty address column but this time I am feeling damn scared. Suddenly I am thinking what a grave mistake have I done and to add to it, how could I ignore it when I knew about it?

My thoughts:
The visa people are smart. They have time and again mentioned that your information should always tally with that of your passport. When I had applied for my passport, I must definitely have given my permanent address but in this form my permanent address is something else. The visa guy will only feed in my passport number and Bam!! my life history is in front of him and ofcourse he will see the discrepancy in the addresses. What will he do then. He will ask me about it. I will act surprised as how could this happen and continuing my acting, I'll tell him its an honest mistake which I am discovering now. He won't buy it. He will tell me how come you can be so careless, how is it possible you not discovering it when you had 2 weeks time and then I'll try to give him excuses (with my innocent facial expressions) but he wont listen and he will hand me a reject. OR, I can admit that yes thats a mistake and I thought it won't matter much and he would scold me as how could I think of that, address is very important piece of information esp permanent address which I have tampered with and he could have a feeling that may be I did it intentionally so Bam!!! visa rejected under case of forgery. God forbid, a reject section under forgery will forever deny my possibility of a US visa and so my higher studies (and world tour) plan will be doomed. O My God!!!! So being mum about it is not an option because if I remain silent and the matter comes up to the visa officer then its a clear sign of forgery.
So one more thing I can do. The moment I reach the embassy, I will tell the authorities about it. They will be dumbfounded as how could I be so careless, they may doubt my honesty also. They will most probably suggest me to reapply for visa again and in that case its not a solution to me atleast. It is the same as a reject, the only consolation is that the visa guy will not know about me hence will not doubt my honesty the next time I appear in front of him for my visa. But I don't want this.
One more thing I can do. Let me call the New Delhi visa help center and explain them the situation and ask for advice. I cannot change the info myself as it is the D-day and not "atleast 3 days before the D-day" but may be they can change it. But why would they believe me? Suppose I tell them about my mistake they may not be of much help except they will add a suspicion star mark in my visa profile. And when the visa guy will open my bio data, he will see the '*' mark in red and he will give me a reject. Simple.

So these are the things I am thinking. All roads lead to visa reject and a loss of face. I even tried calling the help center but it was not 8 yet. I was unable to think anything else. Couldn't eat. Brushed and bathed in a hurry. I am tossing around the house, sweating, shaking. Anxiously waiting for the clock to tick 8. All these time I have heard how the visa guys appreciate honesty and so I decided to tread the path of honesty. I was waiting for 8'o clock when I'll call the help center. Whatever happens next, will be dealt with.

Then one of my roommate came home from his shift, the other one was sleeping. I consider myself to be able to take decisions, I consider myself to be brave, bold and courageous so while I was in the middle of a crisis, I find no reason to talk about it with my friends. But looking at my nervous face, my roommate couldn't help but ask me about it. I then explained it to him and he was so casual about it as if its not at all a big deal. I was angry. In the meantime my second roommate woke up. When he heard about the same, he behaved the same, casual. They both said, don't worry, its nothing, people do change their addresses and moreover they had your data for 2 weeks and they would have done something if it were such a big deal. And I thought Yeah, what do you guys know about this? you have never been into a visa interview before, you don't know what kind of things the visa guy looks for in the candidate before he grants it and you have absolutely no idea how a visa reject is going to change everything afterwards. Why should I listen to you pricks. You have never read thousands of visa experiences posted by students, and the kind of stuffs that attracts a reject. I know only one thing. One must be honest for a visa accept, I am an honest student and I stand to prove my honesty so I'll go ahead and tell them about it whether its a big deal or not.
My friends told me again and again. Its not a big deal. Address change is nothing. It is highly unlikely that he will notice this. Even if he asks, whats the harm to tell that your noida address is your permanent address. I assure you they won't question you anything. Moreover, you remain silent about this thing and there is a chance that nothing happens ofcourse there is a small risk but once you make that call, everything will be changed. New scenarios will arise and new decisions will have to be taken in hurry. You must believe me as a friend, nothing will happen. Just chill, be calm, be smiley, be the most innocent and cute guy in front of visa guy and everything will be fine. Trust me.

My second friend was also supporting him. Hearing both them out was helping me calm down. Moreover I was scared about the whole repeatation of process if I let them know about it. May be its not that much of a big deal. May be I am just exaggerating. May be I need to remain calm about this. May be I need not think anymore about this and May be I should do this.
So, with the words of my friends, I decided to stay silent as if its nothing. I felt very relieved. Took some food, hugged my friends, took their good lucks and left for interview. The whole time I tried not to think about it. Soon my number came. The guy asked me mere formal questions like which specialization, what other universities I applied for etc. Three questions and I heard the magic words, "Ok Kundan, your visa will be couriered to you in 3-4 days. Have a nice day."

I was so happy. Everything went fine. Just as my friends had told. He didn't even ask me anything about my finances, the address thing was a far cry. I was such a relieved man. Thinking about how I was reacting to the address issue, made me laugh. I was being such a baby which is totally opposite of what is true as I consider myself cool, atleast have seen many sissies in my life who totally loose control of their gear over minor to minor issues and I laugh on them but today I was being one among them. I also couldn't help think as to the course of my life, had I not discussed it with my friends. It was only on the consoling words of my friends that helped me divert a lot of stress.

Only then I could know, why we need friends. Alone, we are vulnerable to chaos. With friends, things become easy, comfy, smooth. Really, I never felt the importance of a friend before that day. There may have been numerous instances where my friends have helped me but I only realised it on my visa day, may be because it was the time I dearly needed a friend and I am glad I had two friends with me. I now know only one thing, issue may be big or small but we need friends. Friends are important.

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