It was a dream from childhood to set foot in the United States, a world economic power that strives to hold this universe within its grasp, living through the memories of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. Since there is no cost to desire, that desire grew and spread in a corner of the mind. It was then that an opportunity for a business trip to America came unexpectedly.
On April 8, 2016, I took off on an Emirates flight from Kochi via Dubai, covering 15920 km in 21 hours, at the George Bush International Airport in Houston, USA, to witness the splendor of the developed country. Before talking about American features, let’s talk about the difficulties involved in getting an American visa. It was a big hurdle. The United States is not a country that takes much interest in foreign intrusions into its country. Hence their visa rules are very strict. According to what many people have said, they just tried hard without any hope of getting a visa.
The application was submitted online at the US Consulate in Chennai. The application fee was Rs 12000 then. We have to attach our own assets details, job/business details, annual income statement, last six months’ bank statement, family details, etc along with the application. They collect our entire horoscope to make sure we come back if we go to America. We can select the interview date by looking at the days available in red color in their booking calendar. The interview is in two days. If we get a date for the interview, we have to stand in line at the allotted time on the road in front of the consulate in Chennai. There is complete discipline and calmness to everything. The first day is biometric authentication. They collect images of our fingers and eyes on their computer. The second day is a direct interview. They will ask many questions like why are you going, where are you going to visit, how long will you be in America, who has invited you there, are there any family members in America, and so on. There is also an option to hire a translator for those who do not know how to speak English. If the visa is granted, they will take our passports and get the visa stamped. If the visa application is rejected, they will say sorry and return our passports.
I got a visa for 10 years. We can go to America anytime and as many times as we want in these ten years. But every time we go, we cannot stay there for more than six months. Come back in six months and go again. There are so many details about the American visa.
He landed in Dubai on an Emirates flight from Kochi and returned to Houston on another Emirates flight. Houston is a seventeen-hour drive from Dubai. Watched two movies in between. Had the food and wine that came from time to time. Spent time looking at the white and black clouds outside. So finally the plane landed at the American airport across the seventh sea.
Now is the test of American immigration. You can say that you have reached America only if you pass it. America is the country that kept Shahrukh Khan in exile. Entry will be granted only if they are satisfied with the answers they give to the questions asked by the immigration. There too the questions asked for the visa interview were repeated. The location of the residence was searched and its records were also checked. He asked how much cash he had and asked if he had a credit card. After checking everything and saying “Welcome to America” until the entry seal was stamped on the passport, there was a heaviness in my chest. Yes, some nationals who came on the flight are not given entry and are being shifted to the next hall. When I inquired there, I realized that they would be sent back to their country on the next flight. If there is even the slightest doubt in the records then they will not give the entry.
Out of the airport. Now straight to the accommodation. I was coming to terms with the fact that I had arrived in America, where there are many nightlife cities that are empty during the day and come alive at night. Then a little wind blew and I felt an American English smell. Washington, DC, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Oklahoma, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and many other cities are calling me.
Every restaurant in America is full of flavors from different countries. Food is accompanied by live music. The diversity of Chinese and Japanese American foods is one thing. Also worth mentioning is the safety that the American police system provides to the public. The alarm system has been implemented in all its houses and shops. If there is any danger, press this alarm, and the police will be at our door within ten minutes. It is understood that the policemen are concentrating their duties there and not in the police stations. A police vehicle is constantly moving around a certain kilometer radius. That is why they can reach the accident site within ten minutes.
There are still many American stories to tell. Travel is the only way to get to know the world we live in. Traveling not only helps us to see the land but also to understand the different types of people, their characteristics, food habits, climate, and many wonders of nature.
to be continued. Will be back with more American specials