Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Embassy Day 1
As I was in the Hotel Business Center last night, the lady who was making copies for me noticed our son's name on his passport, and we began a conversation about when, where, why and all of that. The gentleman watching the door was listening in and came over to me and thanked me for adopting one of India's children. He said something to the affect of "God bless the good people of the world like you." And while I know his words were sincere, I don't really know how to feel about such a statement of which we are surely not worthy. If anything Leslie and I strongly feel that we are the lucky ones to have been allowed the opportunity to find Manu, and any noble intent would be second or third to our simple desire to have a baby. But, after visiting India and the Children's Home, we are happy now that we were able to do our very small part to help a very large problem. I don't think anyone can grasp truly the enormity of the situation here until you see it for yourself.
We set the alarm for 6am, so of course Manu wakes up hungry at 5:30. I made a bottle and Leslie fed him while I tried to get a little more sleep. Truthfully I think I got about 5 1/2 hours of sleep last night, which is the most so far. At least 2 nights during the past week I think I have only got about 1 solid hour. Not because of Manu, just too many thoughts swimming through my head to fall asleep. Well this morning I decided to start taking some antibiotics that we brought with us. For a couple of days I have had a stuffy head and a sore throat, but this morning I could barely breath and my throat was on fire. We started Manu on some a few days ago for an infection he brought with him from Ashraya, and now I think I've got it too. I tried laying back down, but to no avail, so we all got up and started getting ourselves ready. Manu was in a pretty good mood this morning, I think he got more sleep last night too, so changing and dressing him went smoothly. At about 7am we headed downstairs for breakfast. Manu didn't want to go in the high-chair this time, so we took turns holding him while the other ate. Back to the room to collect our things before our driver was to pick us up at 8. About halfway to the room I realized that I had developed a case of "Delhi Belly", I think from some pickles I ate last night against my better judgement, and I was suddenly worried that I would be dealing with this while we were far from the hotel. Luckily I had taken the azithromycin a few hours earlier for my throat, and it can do double duty for this too. So I popped a couple of Imodium and we headed out.
Driving through the streets I begin to notice a contradiction of sorts. All along the way there were ads and billboards for luxury and leisure items, "Green Delhi" campaign signs, and other trappings of a stable, affluent economy. The problem is, looking around, beside, or below any of these signs and you are bound to see half-dressed and/or filthy children, homeless beggars or other indications that real life in Delhi is not how they want it to be portrayed. There surely is a priveledged class here, but you have to look hard to find them.
We arrived at the Embassy at about 8:30 to long lines of Indian nationals applying for American Visas. After we passed through security we headed to line 4, for the USCIS. It looked at first as though we would wait for hours, but soon a guard pulled us out of line and escorted us directly into the USCIS office. Apparently the idea is that Americans shouldn't have to wait to utilize the services of their own embassy. Me and my irritable stomach were happy to hear that! Once in the waiting room I noticed the picture of President Bush still hanging on the wall. President Obama is so admired here that I guess I thought that picture would have been changed on day 1. But this is the government we're dealing with. After a short interview with Mr. Patel, our I-600 was approved and we were sent to the Visa office. Once there we were given a list of local doctors, from which we should choose one to take Manu for his clearance exam. Not being given any opinion as to which we should choose, we let the driver take us to the closest one. This was a little 3 room clinic apparently run by a husband and wife Physician team, and appparently they do this all of the time. The female doctor basically looked over all of the previous medical information we had on Manu, gave him a quick looking-over and left the room. The nurse fingerprinted Manu on a 2x2 passport-style photo that was attached to the front form, and to a couple of the forms themselves. We think this is to prevent someone from fraudulently using one child's exam for another child's Visa. We were given a sealed envelope and told not to open it, but to give it to the USCIS office; another fraud control measure. We did notice that Manu is now 15.6 lbs. We'll head back to the Embassy tomorrow morning to return the envelope and to finish his Visa process, at which time he will be officially able to enter the United States. We called the driver and headed back to the hotel, stopping at a pharmacy along the way for more diapers and some ibuprofen, 600mg, no Rx required, for this or anything else I think. I notice I could buy 10 cipro tablets for about $5 and considered it, but I think we have enough to last the rest of the trip now, even if we both manage to get sick.
Back in the room we feed Manu, order room service and take a little nap. Well we wanted to take a little nap, but Manu had slept enough during the car rides and wouldn't go down without a fight. So, instead of sleep we headed back down to the pool area where we sat on a swing and enjoyed the mild weather. After a couple of minutes Manu was out cold, so we carefully brought him back to the room and we all took a little nap. After waking, we decided that we would just stay put for the evening, so we played with Manu and organized more paperwork for the Embassy tomorrow. It's about 10pm local time now, and I'm headed to bed for what will hopefully be a full night's sleep. Take care.