Friday, June 20, 2008

Surreal Conditions Persist

As promised, I am implementing the new Doppler Nexrad Surreal o'Meter 3000 to track my thoughts regarding my impending trip. As of the close of this work week, my trip to India seems: almost real. If you catch me at the right moment, the trip seems alarmingly real, but then the moment fades. Ooo, it just happened for a second. Did you see the meter shift?

This week, I received my visa in the mail with little fanfare. Really, I believe I expected some elaborately costumed gentlemen to show up at my door with drums and shofar and maybe some fresh fruit and present me with an official letter on a velvet pillow with gold-threaded trim. Instead, I got home from work and found a Federal Express envelope on the corner of my sectional couch. My husband found it stuffed behind our storm door. I tore it open and found my lonely passport inside. No letter. No tiny man blowing a shofar. Not even a receipt. Just my passport.

"Did they deny my visa?" I thought to myself, as I realized I really didn't know what a visa looked like. Then I started flipping through the pages of my passport and seeing some barely ledgible stamps. "Is this my visa?" I thought to myself as I strained to read the pink ink on the busy background and figured out it was from my 2004 Globus tour to London and Paris.

I was growing alarmed when I finally found it on a page near the very back: my newest ugly photo and a whole bunch of text in both Hindi and English. (At least I assume it's Hindi. All I really know is that it's an alphabet I can't decipher.)

So that's what a Multiple-Entry One Year Business Visa to India looks like.

Receiving the visa went a long way to making the trip more real to me. Another reality check came in the form of booking my flight. Truthfully, ever since I made the reservations, I've been a bit preoccupied with the fact that I'M GOING TO INDIA FOR THREE MONTHS.

Somehow having to nail down the dates and times for the flights suddenly made me realize that this isn't conceptual. It's not a fun fact or a story to shock people with. It's actually going to happen--in 15 days, 9 hours and 20 minutes, not that I'm keeping track or anything.

Just in case you weren't looking, the Surreal o'Meter just spun around to low again--or maybe that was just my eyes spinning because it looks like it's back to "Medium" again.

I confess to having the pervasive thought that somebody somewhere is still going to change their mind about this. "Vicki's going to India for three months?" this somebody will exclaim. "That's ridiculous. Who approved this? We're putting a stop to this right now."

I'll probably still be expecting this exclamation as I check my luggage and step into the 777.

Either way, the countdown has begun. I have my suitcase partially packed, and we're starting to make the final financial arrangements so that things run smoothly while I am *gulp* IN INDIA FOR THREE MONTHS.

By the way, have I mentioned I'M GOING TO INDIA FOR THREE MONTHS?

I just found out myself.

p.s. Special thanks to Caitlin Rasmussen (our new graphic design intern) for creating the Surreal o'Meter.

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