Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Getting a green card stamp

In the last month, I got my green card approved, my passport renewed from the Indian consulate in SF, the INS office in Seattle decided to close down and take a break of 10 days, INS moved to a new appointment-based system for getting the green card stamped, I managed to get my green card stamped and I am flying overseas for 2 months tomorrow. There were so many variables in this whole equation and almost everything went wrong like clockwork.

The great Indian bureaucrats sent me my new passport after 3 weeks of sitting on it (I had to call to "expedite" the process), and before the sense of elation for having made it through another obscure government office, I noticed, with a sinking feeling in my tummy, that the photo staring back from my passport was not mine. I even looked at the mirror to confirm that this guy, though Indian looking, could not be mistaken as me, or even me some years back. Thankfully they at least expedited the new passport second time around without me asking them. My new passport with my photo came back a week later.

Next, the INS office. Dutifully, I would show up on time (ungodly 7am) for the INS office, take conference calls while I stood in the line and be told close to the time my turn would come that they've run out of tokens. And one fine day they closed down for good because they were moving buildings and the new one wouldn't open for another 10 days. So, what do I do? I was leaving in about a week, so either I cancel my tickets, or I find another way. In Yakima, a small American town, 150 miles east of Seattle, lay the answer to my problems.

Al kindly offered to fly me there in his 4 seater. He, in turn, told me the stories about flying in Jeff's plane. Needless to say, we all have something to look forward to. Al even let me fly, despite my very rusty flying skills. I couldn't keep track of the altimeter, but found once again that I enjoy this shit. I hear they have a flying club in Bangalore. Or outside of Bangalore. Jakkur it's called. Maybe it's time to dust off my pilot's license and fly again!

Anyway, it took an hour to fly there, 20 minutes to find a car, 5 minutes to get the green card stamped, and another hour to fly back. So much for overhead. At the end of it, my passport now shows a permanent residence stamp that allows me legal entry to the US. Thank you, gods of immigration.

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