Applying for a visa

What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?

Many years ago I applied for a US visa from my home country. My brother was working as a doctor in the US and I wanted to visit him. Now since you are paying for the visa you are a customer and it’s only fair to expect some good service in return.

I first had to queue outside the embassy. I remember the place where I was standing had no shade and it was in the hot months of summer. There was an old gentleman who had turned up wearing a suit in his zeal to impress. After standing for about an hour he collapsed and was helped by others also standing in the queue. Nobody from inside the embassy came to help.

When I finally got inside, there was another queue to deal with. When I reached the counter I remember the man interrogating me like a suspect. He asked me about my work, (I was working for a telecom company at that time) and would stare at me for a few seconds after I answered as if to judge whether I was telling the truth or not.

I got a 5 year multiple visit visa. I never went to visit my brother but I did visit the US years later with my husband.

The best experience I had with visa applications was recently when I applied for a Turkish visa from my country of residence. We waited in a room for around 10 minutes before being called to the counter by a friendly visa officer who checked our papers and then offered to give me a 2 year visa instead of the 1 year I had applied for.

Daily Prompt: Are you being served?

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On the Road

Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? 

A few weeks back I ventured further than I have ever gone before. No not to outer space, just driving in my Pajero to an area I have never gone to previously. Now I hate getting lost and I don’t consider it an adventure like many people do, so if I have to go to a place where I don’t have the foggiest idea how to get to, I usually ask my husband to go instead.

So it happened that we needed visas for our vacations and we weren’t sure if we could get them on arrival. Normally I would have asked my husband to sort it out himself but since he is not around during the week (works in another country) I had to reluctantly go myself.

So I set out relying on my GPS lady as well as my phone maps.

I wanted to make sure if I missed one, the other would guide me. Well this didn’t turn out to be such a great idea.  The two navigation guides were having some sort of conflict that day and they decided to take me on different routes. To add to the confusion was the ever happening construction of Dubai resulting in closed lanes/roads. Sure enough I found myself halfway to the airport instead of the consulate. Finally I switched off my phone maps guide and relied on the GPS lady to get me to my destination.

When I arrived there I found the visa section was a small room with around 50 men and one woman standing in a winding queue that filled up the room. Also filling the room was a certain odor that its occupants were badly feeling the effects of the heat. I asked the solitary lady standing there what I was supposed to do since I had just arrived there with the passports. She told me that first I would have to get some photocopies done from the neighboring embassy. I had those done and when I came back the lady was still in the same spot in the queue. She then told me to get the application forms from the man at the desk.

Since this man was not visible in the sea of humanity standing there, I tried to work my way to the desk. When the man saw me he told me to get in line for the application forms. This meant I would have to get in the same infernal line twice, once for getting the forms and another time for submitting them. To collect the visa I would have to come the next day and stand in line again.

Anyway I complied and when I reached the man at the desk a good 45 minutes later, he took one look at my papers and yelled

“Where is Mohammad?” referring to my husband. I explained to him that my husband was travelling and couldn’t be present.

“I can’t give you the visa without Mohammad” he concluded, as the man behind me tried to forward his papers.

“So can we get the visa on arrival?” I asked.

“Yes, yes” he said impatiently signaling to the man behind me.

“What the heck am I doing here then?” I thought to myself as I made my way out.

On the way back I was so angry I drove in the sixth (fastest) lane on the highway, something I never do.

This post was written in response to The Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock

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