Monday, July 2, 2012

The visa

Getting the visa was such a huge issue. They plaster larger than life posters of those red telephone booths and verdant green hills in your face as you go through the humiliation of applying through Gerry's. Then they refuse you the visa and laugh all the way to the bank. I had been refused two years back so I had worried myself sick over it this year. I don't know why it mattered so much that I get it. I guess it is the sense of being shut out, of not being 'allowed' to do something. To be refused was an ignominy that was hard to live down. I who teach our former masters' language every single day and have grown up on their literature. Getting that visa had become a sort of personal Holy Grail.

This time around the odds were better as I had received a British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship to study for a short course at King's College, London. The CWT doesn't normally sponsor short courses but decided to be a truly charitable charity by bestowing half a grant to the most desperate. And so three interrogatory telephonic interviews, a few faxes and a month later I had my stamped passport back in my hands. Stamped with a visa this time instead of just a rejection date.

My last trip to the English speaking world was 14 years ago, back when I was twenty--a three-week whirlwind trip to the US East Coast. That had been mostly zipping through cities and shuffling from the family circle to married desis' apartments. Not exactly my idea of a swinging time at 20, even if one of those apartments involved a breathtaking view of The Hudson. *cue New York State of Mind* There were also the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and The Niagara Falls. But the drift is that my exposure has generally been limited. So, here I am all set a decade and a half later to get 'exposure', one of the stated aims of the Charles Wallace Trust fellowship, except I hear the perpetually cold English weather makes that kind of difficult ;)


  1. now this reminds me the whole process that i have gone through in order to get that sticker called visa stamp to be stuck on the 3rd page or 4th of my passport. looking forward to next page of the diary

  2. Congratulations on the fellowship! How fabulous!