Jealous girl and feeling unwelcome

Jealous girl.

So the jealous girl? That would be me. I am here in Chennai while Chris is off jet-setting around the globe. Last night he hopped on a plane bound for Frankfurt so that he could make it to Italy this afternoon. Bologna, Italy to be exact.

Yep. Super jealous.

Chris and I visited Bologna on our first trip together. During grad school we did a road trip starting in Munich and heading south through Italy, eventually reaching Pompeii before we had to turn around and book it back to Munich for our flight home. It was one of my favorite trips that we have done, probably in large part because we went with no real plan, a tent, and not much money.

It always surprises people to hear that we camped through Italy because for some reason not that many people do it. Well, not too many that I know anyway. It turns out that the camping in Italy’s major cities is amazing. You can camp near the Colosseum in Rome, next to Piazza Michelangelo in Florence, and outside of the gates to Pompeii among other places. Not a bad deal.

During that trip, I am pretty sure that we did not eat a single meal “out” because we had no money. Instead we had many picnic lunches and dinners similar to this one. In fact, the closest that we came to eating out was buying these little rolls of pizza-y goodness at a market in Bologna. I don’t know how to describe them other than rolled up miniature pizzas. They were so good that we drove through Bologna a second time on our way back to Germany to get another round of them. We still talk about the Bologna pizza rolls to this day.

Tonight, Chris is totally going to have them for dinner. In fact, he already told his co-workers that he did not want to share a ride from the airport with them [because he is going to stop at that market on his way from the airport].

Doubly jealous. Not only does he get to escape India in favor of Italy, but he gets to eat what might be the most amazing food ever for dinner. Why do I get sent to places like China for work while Chris gets to go to places like Japan, Austria, and Italy? Not fair!

Feeling unwelcome.

Instead of going to Italy today, I went to the American Consulate in Chennai {which, contrary to popular belief is NOT on American soil}. Last week I used up the last full blank page in my passport so I needed to get more because I have some big travel plans coming up that require a minimum of two blank pages. I’m pretty amazed that I used them all up in three years; that is something that happens to other people, not me. Hopefully I have enough now to last the next seven years.

About this unwelcomeness. I’m not sure what I expected from my visit to the consulate, but it was a really strange experience for me; clearly not what I had anticipated.

My visit started by showing my passport and verification of an appointment at the gate. They had me stand outside of the gate for a while before someone finally came out to get me. I stood in on the sidewalk showing the contents of my purse to a lady and demonstrating that all three of my cell phones were turned off.

Upon going in, I again had the contents of my purse thoroughly inspected, had my cell phones checked again, and then had my purse fed through a baggage scanner. While my purse was in process, I was taken behind a screen to have the most invasive pat down of my life then sent through a metal detector.

Finally, after my purse and I were cleared to the next counter, I was told to remove my wallet and passport from the purse, then hand over my driver’s license and purse to the lady behind the counter. She gave me a bag check tag and pointed towards the back door without saying much.

I exited as directed and headed for what appeared to be the main building within the complex. A guard yelled at me for walking on the empty driveway rather than the sidewalk. As I entered the next building, my passport was checked again, the contents of my wallet were carefully examined, and once again I was metal detected before being sent to a waiting room behind a locked door.

I understand and agree with the need for security, but this seemed so robotic, excessive, and just downright strange. It made me feel like I was suspect in the consulate’s eyes and totally unwelcome to be there. I did go there to see American Citizen Services. You know, a governmental department who is supposed to provide services for people like me, an American citizen?

After waiting for what seemed like forever, I was called and finally allowed to approach the counter. Without saying a word, the lady behind the window took my documents and credit card and disappeared. She came back with a credit card receipt and a pen and slid them under the window, again without speaking. I signed, slid back, and asked how long the wait would be. “Until we call you.”

Ok then. So I waited. And waited some more. Eventually I was called, got my newly thickened passport back, and then hightailed it out of there. Bizarre, bizarre place. I wonder if it is just the US Consulate in Chennai that is so unwelcoming or if it is all consulates? I also wonder why it is like that? Is it fear driven? Is there something else going on? Such a somber, dreary atmosphere. Ugh.

  1. Jena said:

    Bummer that Chris is eating italian pizza rolls with out you. 😦

    That is truly weird about the US Consulate – I have no experience with such a thing, but it’s probably just like that for security reasons. They probably have to show everyone the same amount of security so it’s just easier if they put on a grumpy face and get through it.. .. I have no idea, but it would make me feel better if I thought they were that cold to everyone and not just me.

    • Brit said:

      Yeah, I’m sure that they are cold like that to everyone. It just caught me off guard and kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Not that my opinion on it matters much…

  2. Is that where DMV workers get sent for reprimand? They have to serve a term at the consulate as punishment, lol.

    A filled passport, what a problme to have 🙂

    • Brit said:

      Yes, but only the ones from the NJ DMV! 😉

  3. Two thoughts: first, hopefully your husband will bring you some pizza roles back. I mean, this seems like a no-brainer if your wife is pregnant. Here’s hoping!

    Second, I guess there is some comfort in the thought that, all the world over, American government agencies are making their citizens miserable. Ah, the comfort in consistency and that lovely feeling of home 😉

    • Brit said:

      1) You’re right…he should totally bring me those tasty treats from Bologna.
      2) Perhaps it can just be chalked up to being a global standard of service. It was seriously so, so weird there.

  4. Lisa said:

    Your Italy camping trip sounds amazing! Too bad Chris can’t bring back some Italian pizza rolls. And just for the record, I think your trips to China sound pretty cool. 🙂

    • Lisa said:

      Or maybe he can bring back the pizza… But not sure how appetizing it would be by that point. Make him take you out for something awesome when he gets back.

      • Brit said:

        Good plan!

        Chris, are you reading this?!?!

    • Brit said:

      I suppose China is cool, but Italy is certainly a more glamorous place and more of a gastronomic delight!

  5. Allison said:

    The Zurich consulate was nothing like that. It was in a small office building with one security guard and a metal detector. Pretty boring for the most part. But we did have the I won’t speak to you much lady behind the window. I had to pay for a boring sheet a paper stating I wasn’t married and therefore could get married. Didn’t even have a seal on it. Just the a signature from someone in the back office and black ink stamp.

    The Bern Embassy on the other hand of course was a lot busier and guarded. I didn’t go inside… funny enough my non-American DH has been in way more US embassies then I have.

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