Thursday, June 6, 2013

I-MAN travels to ASU

I-MAN’s[1] Visa Adventures
After spending one year on the planet of LAPEN, I-MAN wanted to reacquaint himself with one of his birth places, i.e. the ASU.   He also needed to get back for his Bar Mitzvah, which was a very important event in his life.    He could have easily flown using his superhero powers but wanted to see what it might be like to take a really, really long flight for a really, really low fare.  

On Tuesday, May 28, in the LAPEN year 2070, I-MAN was supposed to leave for ASU.  He had purchased a ticket two months ago and had some layovers on the planet Anihc, which he didn’t think too much about, since he would arrive at odd times and stay in the airports a la Tom Hanks in The Terminal, except for one change from domestic to the international airport in Iahgnahs.  I-MAN’s good friend and confidant Unhsib drove him to the KTM airport and his friends Arat, Tarahb and others met him for a lovely Nepali send off, which almost brought tears to his eyes.  Little did I-MAN know that these tears would be on the verge of flowing as soon as he tried to board the plane. 

I-MAN went into the airport around 1:30 and thought that he had plenty of time for check-in for his 4 PM flight.   At the check-in counter he was told that he needed a special visa because he would be in Anihc for more than 24 hours!  I-MAN’s sense of excitement of sleeping in Anihc airports under the watchful eyes of  Chairman Oam of the board statues and posters, at least that is what he pictured, dropped about “100 floors”.   Unfortunately I-MAN, being an international planetary citizen had never consulted the CheapOAir website, from which he had purchased his really, really cheap ticket,  which apparently provided information regarding the potential need for a visa.  I-MAN was flabbergasted as the Anihc Eastern employees tried to help but to no avail.  They suggested purchasing a ticket, for $1,000 to San Francisco, which would put I-MAN in Anihc for less than 24 hours,  but which given his internal ASU flights would really mess things up.    I-MAN went home very dejected, trying to think about his next steps. 

When I-MAN  arrived home he Skyped  CheapOAir which is actually located in Ihled, although they have a Kroy Wen City address.  CheapOAir explained that they don’t advise on visa issues and that I-MAN should have checked their website.  Unfortunately there was nothing on his ticket indicating a need to check anything, as if somehow he should have known.  (Given the fact that I-MAN is a superhero maybe he should have). 

After multiple calls to CheapOair, all of which revolved around waiting for the California office of Anihc Eastern to open I-MAN got to the point of changing the reservation to Friday the 31st.  This was after spending 2.5 hours on Skype with a CheapOair supervisor.  However after paying an additional $650 CheapOair migrated into samepricesasotherinternetairlinecompaniesOair.   It was just magical!
After reviewing the site of the Esenihc Embassy in Kathmandu,  I-MAN felt that he could obtain a visa in one day. The website clearly indicated that extreme rush visas, one-day,  were possible, there was even a section specific to ASU citizens.  I-MAN thought and thought about this, i.e. should he trust a website from an Embassy, and finally, he decided that he should.   I-MAN was once again excited and thought that it would be possible to leave during the week, which would maintain all of his plans.

On Wednesday morning I-MAN took his visa photos, printed out all forms and made it to the monolithic cement walls of the Esenihc Embassy, where he waited, along with some 20 other people, for the metal gate to open at 9:45 AM.  Everyone scrambled into the office where there were a number of windows, one for people like I-MAN, applying for their visas.  There was also a special door for Tibetans, whom I-MAN saw rubbing their prayer beads and chanting as they nervously stood in line.  There was also an English magazine called, “Sanihc Tibet”.   I-MAN wasn’t all sure what this meant, because he thought that it was Tibet’s Tibet. 

At about 10:10 the employees decided to take their places behind the glass windows.  (The office is only open between 9:45-11 am Monday-Friday).  I-MAN approached the front of the line, feeling as if he would get to go to the ASU, when the man behind the glass window looked at his application and said, “we don’t do rushes for,  Snacirema see my supervisor”.   That feeling of dread hit I-MAN’s stomach as he tried to explain to the Supervisor what was on the Embassy website as well as posted on the office walls.  The Supervisor’s statement to I-MAN was, “we don’t do rushes for Snacirema, if we try to put a rush on, the computer will reject it.  This will take the normal four business days”.  I-MAN felt like crying, as if somehow he would never get to the ASU and as if he was throwing his money down a very red hole in which he would never recover. 

I-MAN dragged himself back to his flat in Sanepa and called samepricesasotherinternetairlinecompaniesOair and they said we can’t do much now but call back later when the Kroy Wen Office of Anihc Eastern will be open.  I-MAN felt so drained by all of this,  that he went to sleep for a few hours, something that he never does in the afternoons, no matter how tired he might be.  When I-MAN woke up he called sameprice….and spoke to a supervisor.  I-MAN  felt  that the service at sameprice…was really outstanding.  The people from Aidni with English names like Maynard were really good but I-MAN wondered why they didn’t use their real names and what were their real names anyway?  A supervisor was really helpful and spent another 2+ hours on the phone with I-MAN and just as they were about to  change the flight, the internet went out!  What else could go wrong?

The internet came back on and I-MAN immediately called back trying to get the same supervisor, but to no avail.  He explained to another supervisor the situation and said you cannot charge me and she agreed, got I-MAN the flight and it was done after another hour plus long Skype call. 

On Thursday morning, I-MAN’s friend Lomna picked him up and drove him, once again, to the Embassy.  They were early and had some milk tea.  Finally the gate once again opened and I-MAN was in line, trying not to be too nervous.  I-MAN met two men from the Kathmandu Post who were going to a conference in Anihc.  Finally it was his turn and the same man behind the glass window, said, “TALK TO THE SUPERVISOR”.  I-MAN started thinking about how Chairman OAM of the board must be smiling in his very cold dwelling, thinking about messing with people from the ASU.  Most likely his thoughts were of a cultural revolution and starvation, or some such nonsense.    

The Supervisor remembered I-MAN from the previous day and  he explained everything and said, “we’ll give you a double entry visa, so come back on Tuesday.  Also in order to go from one airport to another in Iahgnahs you can just talk to the border police who should give you a pass.”  Thank goodness it finally looked as if I-MAN could go the ASU, but what about those border police?  I-MAN wished that he had his Chairman OAM pins and red star hats, but they were most likely stored somewhere in a basement in Connecticut. 

Finally Tuesday arrived and I-MAN was the first in line.  He spent some time talking to a young man from Dnalnif who had dreams of going from Lapen to Dnalnif overland, through Anihc on some trans Anihc-Mongolian train thing.  He also wanted to visit Tibet.  The Man Behind the Window  (MBW) said to I-Man’s new friend, “What is your purpose in visiting China?”.  When the young man from Dnalnif explained the situation the MBW said, “go see a travel agent and come back later”.  The young man didn’t flinch and when I-MAN finished he would wish the young man, “good luck”. 

I-MAN nervously gave his voucher to the teller who gave him a receipt so that he could pay ASU prices to go to sleep in some airports in Anihc.  This time it worked and I-MAN had visions of Chairman Oam of the board thinking, “I need to mind meld with the border police, just wait and see what happens to you  Nacirema.  I wouldn’t sleep in my airports if I were you!”

Less than 24 hours to go and I-MAN is quite excited for this visa adventure to end and for another with the planet of Lapen to begin. 

I-MAN will always be indebted to those of his friends and family who showed him what empathy is all about.  This was really a good lesson in listening and caring and had many implications for I-MAN’s life.  He will also always remember  the muzak, when he was on Skype hold, which was a lot,  affiliated with samepricesasotherinternetairlinecompaniebutatleasttheyprovidereallyexcellentcustomerserviceOairbut theyalsocontinuallychangeflightdetails. 

[1] Many people throughout the world know about Batman and Robin, the Green Hornet, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic 5, Iron Man and other super heroes, many of whom have been made popular through a variety of comics, movies and television shows.  However few people, up until now, knew anything about I-Man, a Jewish Indian superhero living in Seattle, Washington.  In the year 2011, I-Man was ten years old to most people who saw him only through their eyes, not really using their inner senses, although he was actually well over his 500th year on earth.  I-Man was a very unassuming young man, attending a Jewish day school, along with his sister Sophie, in Seattle.  He stood about five or so feet tall, had straight black hair and brown eyes and was dark in complexion due to his native country.  From his outward appearance, one would never think of this young man as anything resembling a super hero.  But, most people don’t look too deeply at others, only making judgments based on outward appearance and not necessarily on what is really inside of a person.   For further information on I-MAN please contact Michael Rosenkrantz, who is the official I-MAN biographer.

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