Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Great Visa CIRCUS- A NRI Story

Few years back, Paru called me one early morning, telling me that I have to accompany her to take some pictures from the Gemini Flyover.   It was just 6 am in the morning and I got really irritated on her urgency.  She said that we have to go there to take pictures of people sleeping outside the Consulate.   I said what is new in that.  She hated people waiting there, getting visa's, leaving the country with good talents, always thinking West is great and stuff like that....

We all know that people unnecessarily go there before their time and line up, sleep and create a public inconvenience.   The embassy requests people to appear just before 15 minutes of the their appointment time and they would let you in, for security check if you are at the right time.  The whole process depends on the visa you are applying, the company you are working, the talents you possess. you IT degrees and above all a Great Engineering Degree in Computers!.    And ofcourse a good knowledge of English, Economy and everything else you need to know.  

Paru was on her research on the economy, visa, how people move across countries for jobs and to her she always felt that Indians are over desperate to make it to foreign lands in search of dollars and euros.    I told her there is nothing wrong  in that.  Every one wants to grow in life and this is one of the most honest ways to do.   Paru disagreed. 

 As part of her research writing, Paru wrote a big article on the 'Great Visa Circus'.    I was bit not comfortable for I was one among those aspirants who wanted to globe trot and enjoy work and life as it comes. Paru always felt that we are exploited. we are non- patriotic and we are disgusting.

As a Child we watch Airplanes and dream of flying in them one day.  As a teen, we aspire to get into a good college that gives us a passport to a foreign land either as a college student or as a Intern...As we complete college, we dream being part of good companies that will give us loads of opportunities.  This is normal Indian Middle Class Dream!

Paru used to think that we are draining away India of its resources.  The other side of the coin is that Indians are taking away jobs in foreign lands.   But the actual fact is India is never drained with the talent and the percentage of Indian Population leaving India for greener prospects are never a threat to the Nation.  They contribute to the Nation's biggest remittances on a regular basis pooling flexible funds to our banks and real estate.    Moreover, there is a real need for our kind of talents in the Global Market and we are economical, committed, hardworking and productive.  (We can discuss the flip side of this later on Talents and Productivity!)

Later began,  Paru's Great Visa Circus!   Season 1..... She wanted to go abroad...particularly to United States.   Not for earning money, but her curiosity to get the first hand feel of NRI life.   She put through herself and her family through the same visa process that she hated.  The paper work, evaluation, finding project, planning the travel, wrapping up her stay in India, packing, shopping, travelling.  I could hear her smiles and justifying why she took that decision, blah blah blah....As a good friend and her listener always,  I kept smiling.

Paru's First Visa  came through and she called me how professional people inside the embassy were,  well organized, high security,  punctual, and she kept saying that she found a first office in India which didn't seem Indian, the library that is so enriched, how her stamping was smoothly done and how her dates of travel were confirmed.   I was also happy for her, excited that her myths are broken and dreams are coming true.   Finally one summer morning she flew off to United States with her family,   and started writing mails of her trips on weekends, how professional her clients were, how she is managing communication and cultural changes, about the Freeways,  the pollution free world and every good thing she found.  Again, I Kept Smiling!

Settling down issues started to news-in...... how she had to put her kids in separate bed room , buy all second hand goods, how someone cheated her on the first car she brought there. how they have been looking for discounts, coupons an deals all the time.  Her craving for a Hindu temple, a library, and desperate to make friends of the Indian Community started to grow.  I believe Indians avoid Indians in US...for everyone interacting in Wal-Marts and Best Buys would be behind you to sell their AMWAY products or any other MLM nonsense that was not of your interest.  

After 3 months, she packed away bags of her husband and children and sent them back to India saying that they are missing her home country and education.   After few more months of lone struggle, and as the project to her favour got successfully completed, she returned to India before her 1 year visa expired.     She cried that her promotion and hike did not happen that year because she was On site and now she returned after 1 year to nothing.   LOL!

Visa Circus Season 2 began.....The drama started to unfold.  She was chosen as good professional for on site by her employer and was asked to apply for the Visa Again!  She was happy that she is recognised, but same time she didn't want to trouble the family, so this time she went on for Business Visa!   She was again happy that she can travel for short terms without disturbing her family, same time, her skills were appreciated and her ability to do professional good projects is tested again.   She flew back to United States for few months.   She worked hard, did excellent job, contributed so much for the project but due to several external reasons, the project got shelved and she had to come back!  She took it so personally that she fell sick for a month after coming back to India....God save her!

Circus Season 3 started to unfold as again an L1 Visa was applied.   She was again pumped with energy, enthusiasm and required things to go back and this time, she had amazing experience of working in a Global Project, that automates manual assembly lines.   Paru started to airport that night and I still remember the way her kid hugged her legs and cried.   Paru convinced that is all for her better life and the struggle is to make things better......The whole family went for Stamping again! ... few months and one Sunday morning, Paru calls me again.   Paru's children are not doing well.  One is sick and hospitalized and other one failed in half yearly exams.   Teacher called to inform that they need their mother to be alright.   The balance being work and life, the striking balance between a working parent and a professional, she was confused.   Paru called me to pick her from the airport after couple of weeks.   The second phase of the project is postponed and she had time to decide if she will go back to United States.

After 3 months of enjoying Chennai life, Seasonal Music Concerts, meeting all relatives and friends, she decided to stay grounded.   Circus Mega Season 4  didnt leave her in peace.....With a valid Visa and good US clients handling experience,  she was pushed to bench without being given the offshore projects waiting for the 'Onsite' assignment by her employer.   Paru was always keen on learning and she took that as a time to do her certification and sharpen her axes!....The day she got her coveted certification,    she did not realize that her life would again get on the roller-coaster....this time for a longer, happy, bumpy ride!    This ride to a most glamorous city filled with real amusement parks and world's best rides...!  Enjoy Babe!

The Mega Season 4...came to an end shortly before 2 years of her globe trotting with visa not happening this time for Season 5 and with a high level uncertainty...thanks  to Presidential Election,  where every one's slogan is for creating Jobs!  US Job market is at its worse and people are suffering.  The country is struggling with increasing number under poverty line and global economy with its vulnerability,  Paru is now not immune to the NRI story....keeping the bags ready, shopping list handy and with her favorite tag line ....'Uncertainity is the only Certainty!'...Paru has grown up now I guess....Same time she is confused!   Confused because some unknown unknown calls to tell her that she is not an 'Engineering Grad' and hence not a 'hot resource'....just because she had been on among 95% of the rejections happening.???...Where did the key tag, urgency tag go??...Paru is angry that her children's future is at jeopardy travelling back in midst of an academic year.   But who is to be blamed.  Blame yourself and none other for your decisions!  

Paru called me again... she wants to take life in her control and not leave it as the mercy of others.   She is tired of others taking decisions that are important for her.  I am happy for her if she gets what she wants and not others exploiting her in the name of employment and anything else.   If at all Season 5 will unfold later I only wish she is at peace!     The world is not a place today for honest, transparent, hardworking individuals.  The world has become a circus tent with the ringmasters controlling it!   

Paru is a genuine hardworking and wonderful passionate person for life.    The day she decided to be controlled by herself, she will be fine.   Paru is tired of fake promises,   fake friends who are just fair weather folks,  and tired of fighting for justice.     Hope she gives up her attitude to please everyone and does what is close to her heart...... and End this Visa Circus!

Writer's note!

..........This is a story of a NRI...who is unfit to be called an NRI....probably a frequent R2I!!!.......a true story.....but truly written to humorously see the other side of a great travel around the world stories!.....Enjoy Reading it!


How to lace converse high tops said...

You write so well and your words flow like river.I wish i can write like you.

Sunitha Bijumon said...

Dear Paru,
Am wiating for watch you at your next circus show !!!!

Sunitha Bijumon said...

Dear Paru,
Am waiting here.... to watch you at your next circus show !!!!