As this will be my last entry while still in India, I thought it would be appropriate to recount the eventful story leading up to my stay in this amazing country. It’s a long one so bare with me.
Chapter One: Pre-Crisis
I had to go to into the city to get my employment visa. Without this visa I could not work in India, nor could I even get into the country— it was of the utmost priority. It took me a while to compile all the required paperwork for my visa. I had to collect the usual documents as evidence of my identity- my passport, birth certificate, proof of address, etc. But, the real tricky part was getting a justification letter, which is described on the India visa website as being:
A letter from the employer in India certifying that applicant is a skilled and qualified professional, technical expert, senior executive or in a managerial position. This letter should state that the applicant’s skills are not available in India.
Well, the funny thing is, I don’t have any skills, much less a skill that all the one billion people in India lack. I graduated from a liberal arts college and majored in East Asian Studies. This means I am qualified to do absolutely nothing. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment from my four years of higher education was discovering this potato chip:
(click on image if it is really small)
I also did gain some proficiency in the hard level of Rock Band (guitar only, not drums), in addition to acquiring a deep-seated aversion to all the things related to science.
The folks down at our college career center encourage us to tell our prospective employers that we are critical thinkers. What exactly that means has always been unclear to me— a fancy way to say intelligent or logical, perhaps?
Anyhow, I was a bit curious as to how my employer was going to justify to the government of India my working over there. But, my boss proved to be a magician as he was able to produce the needed materials.
So with all required documents in hand, I was off to the big apple to get my visa and start my adventure across the sea. But, before I left, my parents informed me of a graduate school fair that was happening during the same time I would be in new york, and that I should definitely go because it would be supah helpful.
My new P.O.A. was to first go the grad. fair then go to my visa appointment at 11am the next morning.
I arrived in the city. Ahh the city!
I used to hate the city- it’s only redeeming quality being the cancer-filled hotdogs sold on the streets. But, now that I am older and have a mature appreciation for the finer things of life, I have come to really like it. Plus, the WNBA Liberty games are a really great and insanely inexpensive opportunity to get yo’ drank on and eat nachos.
Someday I would like to move there. Part of me wants go as soon as I get back to America. But the other part of me thinks I’m really not cut out to be a new york city slicker. Would I really fit in there? I’m certainly not cool enough to be a hipster. And I’m definitely not hardworking enough to be a young, wall street sort:
Regardless, I was happy to be spending some of my last few days in the vibrant city of new york, even if I didn’t fit in, and even if I had to go to a grad school fair.
When I walked into the large hall full of tables and grad school representatives from across the country, I noticed that all the other one-thousand, million people had on business attire. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Not only that, but everyone seemed to me much older than I- with actual job experience and such. I felt like a tween wearing a skirt from the Delias catalogue at a high school prom.
I awkwardly wanderer around the tables, pretending as best I could that I was really interested in learning all about the about the various programs offered, what kind of jobs students got post-graduation, and all the intriguing research the professors were up to. Everyone else seemed to be having really serious and informative conversations. I was way too intimidated to talk to anyone so I just walked around writing my email on a bunch of lists and sneaking away before anyone noticed me.
It brought me back to those stressful and daunting days in high school when I was applying to colleges and pretending to be a person who was really eager to write papers on things like the philosophy of philosophy, engage in dialogues about diversity and gender constructs, and eat dinner at my professor’s house. And now I was pretending to be someone who was eager to start a professional, lifelong career. This idea of commitment and responsibility terrified me— meandering my way through life is much more appealing. Tis’ the symptom of being 23 years old.
I was able to muster some semblance of confidence:
Wait one second! They are trying to impress me. They want to convince me to go to their school. I don’t have to convince them to let me in…not yet at least. Who cares if I have no idea what I’m looking for? Who cares if I am under-dressed?
So I stood a little taller, brushed the dirt off my shoulders (figuratively), and stepped in line to wait my turn to chat to a grad school representative.
I didn’t have a question in mind and there wasn’t anything in particular I really wanted to know— I just wanted to assert myself after having felt so out of place and awkward. I started thinking about what I should ask. I tried to imagine what an Ivy League Joe emitting toxic levels of confidence would say.
Hmmmm….what to say…what to say….maybe…
No. That won’t do.
Yea. That’s it. That’s what a person who knew their shit would say.
The woman in front of me was having a lengthy conversation with the representative. I tuned into their conversation only to hear,
Swiss Embassy, you say? Yowzah! That certainly makes my TJ Maxx work experience sound considerably less impressive. This is your cue to leave.
And I did. I busted out of that shindig at lightning speed without having talked to anyone. But it’s okay, because I did something equally useful and beneficial for my directionless future:
Chapter Two: Crisis
Flash forward next morning: I have overslept. I have less than an hour to get to my visa appointment, but I have no idea where the building is.
But, even against these incredible obstacles I conjured up my inner super powers and managed to make it on time. I triumphantly ran up to the receptionist. He asked me for my documents. As he looked at them, he informed me that I was at the wrong place and said,
Without taking the proper amount of time to put all my documents back in the folder, I was out the door and sprinting across Manhattan to get to the correct building. I finally arrived- only about thirty minutes late- and went up to receptionist. I handed her my folder with all my documents. As she looked at them she said,
I looked at her stunned. “It’s in the folder. All of my stuff is in that folder.”
Then she said four words that tore my soul into a million pieces,
“It’s not in here.”
And that’s when I realized-
Oh. No. I must have dropped it while I was running out of the first building.
I was absolutely destroyed. I was the stupidest person in the entire world. I had dropped my passport in New York City a week before I was going to work in India. It would take weeks to get a new one. I couldn’t get my visa. I would miss my flight and be stuck in America. All my plans from six months ago would be cancelled. I would forever live with my parents. I really was the stupidest person in the entire world.
I had no idea what to do. After 15 or so minutes of statue-like behavior, I convinced myself this was not the time to get upset. This was a time that called for swift and immediate action! I went out of the building and retraced my steps back to the other building.
(Do not mistake my decision to go out looking for my passport as some kind of newfound hope I would find my passport. I did not think I would find my passport. People don’t lose their passports in the city and find them. People pick up passports in the city and sell them to people in Kyrgyzstan).
So there I was trudging around Manhattan, looking like the most devastated, hopeless human being in all of america. I bought a pretzel.
I kept looking though. It was hard to motivate myself because all I wanted to do was lie down on the sidewalk and cry. For hours and hours. I couldn’t even fathom calling my parents and telling them what happened. I didn’t want to face anyone. You have to be a really talented idiot with years of experience in stupidity to pull something like this off.
How was I to proceed? What was I to do??
I’ll head west and work in a diner and be that unfriendly/alluring waitress with a mysterious past. Maybe I can go work on an organic farm in Mozambique. I’ve always been fascinated by beavers and their semi-underwater abodes. Maybe I’ll go runaway and study them for a while.
I arrived back at the building I had first gone to. No passport. I talked to a security guard inside. No passport. I went back outside and recognized a police officer from earlier. I walked up to her to ask what one does when one needs to report a missing passport.
She responded with the words that sewed the pieces of my torn soul back together and reinforced it with the glue of utter jubilation (illegal in most countries),
Chapter Three: Post-Crisis
“You found my passport?”
“Yes. Just dropped it off at the station.”
My jaw dropped.
Tears erupted from my eyes.
I was so stunned I couldn’t speak.
I put my trembling hands on her shoulder to show my infinite gratitude.
(and I nevah touch strangaz)
“It’s okay. Don’t cry, now.”
But I wasn’t crying. My body was producing angels of happiness and hope, and these angels were flying out of my eyeballs to fill the world with messages of universal love and joy. The world was a glorious, glorious place.
And within just two hours, I had gotten my passport back, returned to the correct building, and successfully submitted all my documents to receive my visa. Mission accomplished. I was the luckiest idiot evah.
What a rollercoaster of emotion. I was the happiest person in the world. I was the fat girl who had won the beauty pageant. I was the handicap kid who got to be the water boy for the varsity basketball team. I was the happiest person in the world. I was invigorated, born again. I was an angel of happiness and hope, and I wanted to pass on all the fortune I had received to another soul in the spirit of karma. And also in the spirit of the movie Pay It Forward.
It did not take long for that opportunity to present itself to me. A homeless woman approached me as I was floating down the street in my bubble of ecstasy.