It is exciting when at least half the people in the room have a more interesting/compelling story than you do

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/01/18 14:59 -05:00, original URI:

Yesterday was a fairly exciting day....

I had to fly down to San Francisco to get my visa for that trip to India I mentioned.

You have to be at the Indian Consulate before 11am and then be there between 5:30pm-6pm to pick up your visa, if you want it all done in one day....

And you must be at the one on Mission, not the one on Arguello -- I had to tell the cab driver he was mistaken on this one and he actually refused to let me pay after he realized he was trying to take me to the wrong place -- he called it double or nothing on the fare and was a very honorable man who I offered to pay anyway....

I have to say (and this was a shocker to me!) that this is an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone who has the time and who is making such a trip!


Well, the truth is that every person who needs a visa in a hurry has a story. And most of them didn't mind telling their story while they are waiting.

And I can guarantee you one thing, a thing that several people there agreed with me on -- at least half of the people there have story that is more interesting than yours! :-)

These are stories toed up with culture here in the USA, culture in India, technical issues. religious issues, visa and immigration issues, and at the very end of the day a room filled with what looked like hundreds of people, all eagerly waiting for their visa.

Oh, here is mine (with my passport number and the visa number X'ed out:

It is nicely taking the space on page 17 of my passport now. It was going to be a 12 month business visa with multiple re-entry but since my letter was from the people in India inviting me to the meeting rather than my employer, the folks who had to submit the paperwork were worried that even though the application was filled out properly (my employer was listed but it stated that my employer was not sponsoring the visa), that it would be turned down and I would have to either stay overnight in San Francisco or fly back the next day.

And they truly did not want that -- we are talking about a dedicated group of people who know that every person waiting there for a visa does have a story and an interesting one to boot.

I mentioned that it wasn't technically a conference but they assured me that the visa would cover whatever I did in the way of meetings or presentations or being a tourist or whatever. They were truly amazing.

Having nowhere else to really go (and having an implicit fear of the hills of San Francisco with the scooter), they even let me stay while they closed down for lunch, and several people were interested in the presentation I was perhaps going to be doing at Anna University while I am there (suggested by Soma and few others) about Indic and Unicode, with some bits on the very real problems in the conflict between passion about language and passion about technical issues.

"And you will be the bridge between these rival groups?" one person asked me.

"No, I am not quite that important," I admitted, "but I'll talk about the need for more people to properly respect both sides of the argument and in effect become the bridges, by example. Maybe some of the people at one of India's largest engineering universities will learn about it enough become inspired enough to begin to make progress in helping others understand."

That answer caused many to smile, and one person pointed out that was the motto of the university -- Progress Through Knowledge

I could not tell whether the smiles were due to what was perceived as naive optimism or what was recognized as earnestness if purpose, but either way seeing them look at examples and understand what I wanted to communicate made me realize that the message was one worth getting out.

I will be blogging more about it while I am there, as well as about my interactions and conversations with people.

After a very exhausting but rewarding day in San Francisco I find myself quite fired up about my trip! :-)


This post brought to you by(U+0ba4, aka TAMIL LETTER TA)

Tom Gewecke on 18 Jan 2008 6:06 PM:

Mac Office 2008 and Tamil Again:  I have a couple reports now that Mac Word 2008 does not in fact display Tamil (even though the other parts of Office may do so).  Let me know if these are wrong.

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jan 2008 6:46 PM:

This is so off-topic of a comment that I'm just going to ignore it in its entirety....

But of course you are welome to test it out or put questions in the suggestion box. :-)

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