I (Thomas Joy) had heard a lot about India from friends who had visited this country famous for its cultural heritage. On my way to India, I had a brief stop-over in Singapore. The flight to Singapore was good, and I had a few hours in transit in Singapore before I boarded my next flight to New Delhi. I utilized these few hours sight-seeing… and the first word that came to my mind on my way from the airport to the city-center was “beautiful”. It was nice to see so much greenery on my way, and then the concrete structures started outnumbering the natural vegetation, and I realized that I was approaching the city. Singapore is colorful… the boat ride across the town, watching people dance in colorful clothes… everything was amazing.
I landed at the International Airport in Delhi late night on Saturday, October 7th, 2006. VisaPro India team members were already there to receive me and we reached our hotel close to midnight. Being an early morning person, I woke up at 5 am local time and started reviewing the materials for the events and preparing the presentation. For breakfast, I had “idlis” and “sambhar”. Idli is a kind of steamed dough made of rice flour. Sambhar is a famous South Indian vegetable curry that goes with a lot of dishes. Since this was my first visit to India and I was yet to adjust to the environment and food habits, VisaPro India team made sure I avoided too spicy or oily food. The whole of Sunday was spent fine-tuning the presentation materials and discussing about the type of audience expected, the most common queries received at VisaPro India office, and learning about the policies and procedures at the consulates in India.
Monday was the day of our seminar in New Delhi. The venue, Claridges Hotel was excellent. Located in the heart of the city, The Claridges has been a landmark in Delhi since the 1950’s. I was equally impressed by the professionalism with which the event arrangements were handled by VisaPro India team.As expected, the audience was intelligent. Over 100 attendees comprising of HR professionals, Legal professionals, CEOs and other executives from various companies were present. During the break for high-tea, I had an opportunity to interact with the audience and understand their issues. This also gave me more ideas regarding the type of questions I may need to answer in the Questions and Answers (Q&A) section of the program.
I liked the mock-interview session where we called one of the attendees for a visa interview. The volunteer for the visa interview had already appeared for a real B-1 visa interview once and an H-1B visa interview twice at the U.S. consulate earlier. Thus, he answered all my questions very well and, needless to say, I had to grant him the visa. The Q&A session was even more interesting as the situations presented by the attendees were quite unique. I had a tough time understanding the handwriting of some persons, and I suggested to the VisaPro India team that the Question Cards should be screened in advance or the person asking the question should be given an opportunity to explain what he had written. Overall our first seminar went as planned, it started on time and ended on time, and we were able to give an opportunity to almost everyone in the audience to present their issues and ask questions.
Since I had a packed schedule for the whole week, I didn't get much time for sight-seeing. We had another seminar in Pune the next day, and had a couple of hours between the time we wrapped everything up in Delhi and the scheduled departure time for our flight to Pune. We stopped by at a restaurant on our way to the airport to pick up something for dinner… and this is how I tasted “biryani”, a dish made of rice and vegetables. I heard that non-vegetarian biryani is awesome, but I had to resist it, to avoid going into the seminars and workshops during the week with an upset stomach. From Delhi to Pune we flew “Kingfisher airlines” and had a nice flight. We reached Pune much beyond midnight, looking forward towards managing a much bigger event, which had over 220 attendees.