“What’s the purpose of your visit?” The African American seated behind a thick glass wall separating us looks way younger than his salt and pepper beard suggests. His previous interviewee left in tears after trying unsuccessfully to convince him amidst heavy sobs – “She didn’t tell me; otherwise I wouldn’t have wasted my time applying” – Alas, her pleas fall on deaf ears.
She’s not the only one to have been denied a visa – A young lady had stomped out of the building earlier, as did “Mr. Briefcase” – an Indian gentleman in a black suit and briefcase, who despite boasting of owning several chapatti eatery outlets and employing 30 workers, had failed to impress the jury and was sent packing. Visa acquisition prospects look bleak in here and the atmosphere is undoubtedly tense.
A loud voice commands you to say out your name and age as you approach one of the many counters. “Can’t they be a little bit discreet? I don’t want everybody knowing my age!” Heleena whispers in my ear. She’s an Ethiopian I’ve just met in the queue. “I’ve been invited to sing at an American choir” she flashes a perfect set of pearly whites but I’m too distracted by the voices booming out of the loudspeakers to reply.
I think back to my experience at the British embassy where interviews were conducted privately in cubicles next to a waiting arena equipped with chairs, TV screens and a separate children’s compartment. Americans keep you fit on your toes and privacy is clearly not priority. As for kids, a couple with an infant jokingly enquired if its fingerprints were required? You never know, hey. And who soma needs entertainment when you can happily eavesdrop into people’s conversations at the interview counters and relish emotions etched in the faces of the rejected?!