After a number of attempts, some real, others imagined, I finally managed to find the U.S. Consulate here in Kolkata. My colleague, who assisted me, was not allowed to enter because she is not an American citizen. I went through one very heavy armored door to a small room where I was asked to empty my pockets, surrender my cellphone and state my business. I then went through a metal detector and a personnel gate before entering the compound. I was then escorted by an armed guard to the main building, where I struggled with another heavy armored door, asked to empty my pockets again and go through another metal detector. I was then patted down and asked again to state my business. I told them I wanted to register my passports so I was shown to another room, again with a heavy armored door. Seriously, they must have been a foot thick.
The air conditioning was just lovely - the air was fresh, no soot on anything, and very nice furniture. I stepped up to the window - it was heavy protected with thick bullet proof glass - about twice the defense of a bank teller window at home.
I told the gent my business and he pushed two cards at me to fill out and took my passports to make copies. After completing them I asked about absentee ballots. He gave me forms to send back to Chicago.
After completing all my tasks, he returned to the window and said, "Welcome to Kolkata, madam, and please take this with my compliments." He pushed a DVD in my direction, entitled "Being Prepared for Pandemic Influenza". Welcome indeed.
Sometime I think I'm a Walking Wallet
Every day, I argue with vendors of all kinds because as soon as they see the colour of my skin, the prices rise dramatically. I am paying the price for my lack of understanding the language. A person at my office offered to schedule bottled water delivery to my house. We received one bottle last month delivered to my flat. He tried to charge me 690 rupees for one bottle of water!!!!!! At the office, the company pays 40 rupees for the exact same bottle. He tried to convince me it was the delivery charge. I asked him, "Where is it coming from, Australia?" :-)