It was a perfect recipe for the biggest goof up. Well, come a certain Monday, I received my I-20 form (the document that allows you to get a visa interview date in the first place). I read it and re-read it for the umpteenth time, happy that things were working out finally. By Tuesday, I had paid the money to the bank, got myself a professional set of photos for the visa interview, compared it with my last set of visa photos taken 4 years ago, and thunked my head multiple times on the wall after seeing the massive havoc adipose tissue has caused to my face ever since. By Wednesday, I was looking at the set of dates available for the interview.
Available days: Monday. Tuesday. Thursday. Friday.
Monday was 5 days away. Tuesday 6. Thursday 8. Putting it off until Friday would surely cause me a nervous breakdown.
And then I remembered. My friend was visiting Kolkata from Bangalore for a couple of days, arriving on Sunday. I really wanted to meet and maximize my time with him. Guiltily, I weighed my options. Ideally I should have scheduled my interview on Monday. But that would mean being sufficiently engaged with the preparations for visa interview that I wouldn’t have enough time to spend with him. Although my foremothers would advice against doing anything crazy for a guy you are not going to marry (which includes postponing a visa interview by 4 days), I pressed the “confirm” button for the Thursday 8:15 am slot. Foremothers’ voices were put on mute for a while.
By Sunday, the Raj Mistry had sufficiently jinxed my plans of meeting my friend for the next 3 days. He decided to work under supervision starting Sunday and hence now I was not meeting my friend at all. The Raj Mistry by the way isn’t your next door Shah Rukh Khan look-alike guy from Karan Johar movies (though the name would suggest so). Amongst all the hilarious names prominently used by Bengalis like Pocha, Nadu Gopal, Joga (Jaw-ga), Keshto, and Poltu, Raj Mistry is what you call the craftsman who makes basic repairs in the house. Some home repairs had to be made at my friend’s place and he called to say he would not be able to meet me during this trip.
So now, I had just postponed my visa interview by 4 days for a reason that was not to be. Did I just hear the sarcasm-coated voices from my foremothers?
Sunday evening, I was bored to death. I tried making 4 different plans with friends but none of them worked out. Without sufficient preamble, getting hold of someone free enough on a Sunday evening turned out to be an impossible task. I wondered if the Raj Mistry was having fun with his chisel and hammer.
Bored, I resorted to my ever available friend- the internet. I logged on to Gmail and barely found anyone online. Need I be reminded it was Sunday evening and everyone was having fun outside? A friend from Florida logged in and I was glad to chit chat. His sister was just done with her visa interview and I asked how it went.
Sunshine: Visa is expensive. I just shelled out some INR 6.5k.
Florida Friend: Are you sure? My sister just shelled out INR 17k.
Sunshine: What !!!!
It turned out that there was a visa fee, and there was a SEVIS fee. They were separate. I don’t really goof up visa related things (or important things for that matter), but it seems senility is hitting me and I had this time. I don’t know how I missed the part where I had to pay the $200 SEVIS fee. I jogged my memory and remembered a friend of mine had done the same mistake and realized it on the day of the interview. The trouble was, it took 3 business day to get the SEVIS fee processed. I had Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday was the visa interview. And here I was nicely sitting at home, happy that visa related things were taken care of, and cursing my friend and the Raj Mistry.
It’s been a while since I had felt such shock, and felt relieved at the same time that I had realized and hence checked the possibility of a goof up right on time. Things could have gone wrong at multiple stages. I could have decided to listen to my foremothers and got the visa interview scheduled on Monday. The Raj Mistry could have not shown up and then I’d be meeting my friend and not be online to talk to my Florida friend. Fate had conspired in a way to get all my plans of going out on a Sunday evening jinxed so that I’d be online and talking to my friend. It turned out, like always, that I had done the right thing but for all the wrong reasons.