about a visa…part 1

On Thursday I made my friends participate in their first, and maybe only ever Thanksgiving dinner. It was very makeshift. We all work later than we should. There was a protest because some politician in Delhi (apparently a very corrupt politician) got slapped. On a side note I remember that when President Bush was attacked by a flying shoe there wasn’t as much commotion as there was when this politician. I wonder what that says about India, or as a matter of fact, what it says about the US. Anyway, it wasn’t an ideal thanksgiving. They asked what it was all about, why do we celebrate it, etc. I gave them the fake story and put a lot of quotation marks and some sarcasm to it. I think they got the idea about what it’s really about these days. Before we sat down to eat – I made them wait for everyone to show up – I said that usually one person says what they’re thankful for, but this time we would have to go around and everyone would have to say (if they really wanted to pass they could have passed) what they’re thankful for either about life or friends, or for whatever they want to be thankful. I’m not sure if everyone understood the whole thing, but I can’t take it or myself too seriously, as it is completely out of context. I think for a first go around it went pretty well. There was a vast array of foods including my special salad, mashed potatoes, paratas, fruit salad, sweet rice, pizza, an amazing custard and wine. It was amazingly yummy. I got a phone call right after the “thanks” were finished saying that because of the protests some centers would be closed the next day and I had to call many teachers and social workers to let them know which of my centers would be closing the next. It put a damper in the evening, but everyone was still there when I got back, so it was ok.
Work the next day was quiet, as were the roads. Nothing happened, at least not here.
The rest of the week went smoothly. I went to an unsuccessful chilrens day celebration that one of our sponsors put on for their employees’ kids. Our kids were invited but it wasn’t really the kind of even that you invite non-employees to. Our kids didn’t really have a great time and I felt bad for them.
My other kids, from the capoeira classes, came to the park today for a roda. It was nice to see them there as well. I often have the discussion with my roommate, with other friends in capoeira about what to do with them. They participated when Caxias was around. They come to class. They almost always wear the shirt we gave them. There are reasons why they come that I don’t understand, and those that I do. I’m not sure they get to be kids anywhere else. Often they work at a street side Chinese food place until midnight – some of them are only 12 years old. There are kids capoeira classes to be given but I don’t mind that they run around half the time and don’t pay attention. They get to be free. Although sometimes it can get annoying, I’d rather provide them a safe space to be happy and free. Sometimes they go to play cricket but I don’t know of any other time they’re free. I also think it’s good for us adults to have this interaction with them, for them to know there are other people out there that are invested in their future, etc; sometimes I’m just unsure how to approach the situation. They’re beyond great kids though.

Delhi!
I went from the plane to the FRRO office to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where are sat in at least 3 different waiting rooms, spoke in Hindi most of the time (yay me) and cried in an important man’s office. One of his defense tactics was to say that I have to have faith that I will get my visa. I didn’t mean to cry. I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was pretty thirsty. That, mixed with the inability for them to understand that I’ve been anxiously awaiting a piece of paper for three months, let the waterfalls begin. After going to get a ticket to register so that I could go to another counter to get another piece of paper, one man sent me to a different room to get my papers. I waited there, went in twice to remind them, and a sweet older gentleman came out to help me out with my papers in hand. He brought me back to the other man who conducted my “interview”. The man conducting the “interview” was not very nice at all and when I tried to explain to him that I needed to know the status so that I could go home, he sent me to someone else; it was there where I let go. This main told me to have faith, have faith!??! What is this? So finally I went back to the office of the nice man where I explained to that office what happened, and another man got very upset that the interview man wasn’t exactly nice to me. We went back to the interview man who then explained that he’s doing his job and I explained again that I’ve been waiting for three months for him to do his job (of course I was nice about that) and felt the tears gathering steam in my eyes again. He said that tomorrow by 11 the decision will be delivered to the Pune office. I had to thank the kind gentleman several times; I always addressed him as ji (a formal name like Sir, but anyone can be a ji). Now we’ll see. Confusing, don’t you think?
I asked Manoj if me crying was a form of bribery. I felt bad because I don’t want them to give it to me because of my tears, but rather because it’s their job and the right thing to do. He made me feel better because my tears were real, not crocodile. My emotions built up and it just came out. If I were doing it on purpose, then, maybe it would have been. I guess being super emotional about stuff like this helps.
I was close to Khan market where I rewarded my emotions and stomach with a very expensive but very amazingly yummy lunch and coffee. I’ve been working for a couple hours and would really love to go explore some of Delhi (at least a non expensive part like Khar market). Networks are lifesavers as well. I’m staying with my friend from grad school who just happens to be working here in Delhi. She, like myself, had no India dreams, but just kind of ended up here. It should be a nice evening. I’m ready to lay on the waterworks tomorrow again at the Foreign Ministry; even with a full belly and a regular night’s sleep, the stress of it all will just let the tears flow. I don’t think I’ll have a problem. I’m just too anxious about going home in 2 weeks! If it’s there I think I might just go back and give them all a hug. Shouldn’t that be a good payoff? Everyone likes a hug.

    • kanchan
    • November 30th, 2011

    Ana, who else from Wagner is in Delhi? Was this Chapal? or Gaurav?

    • Nope. They’re both there but were super busy with work. Ethel is there, working for a Canadian NGO.

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