My American journey into India
I loved your July cover story ("An American Journey into India")! I have been married to a wonderful Indian man named Nilesh for three years. Born and raised in the U.S., I had the privilege of taking a trip to India in April this year. Not only did I get to see India, but I also got to meet his/our most loving and friendly family for the first time. Yes, things in India are different in many ways, yet we also have some of the same issues in the States. We do have poverty, though the scale may be different here. And, of course, we have TRAFFIC. I do have to say that the way people drive over there is very different! I saw the sign 'Horn OK please' on a lot of vehicles. In America unfortunately, people sometimes get shot for doing that. I went with my husband to meet his family, and was accepted by many more people than just his family. Everywhere we went, people welcomed us into their homes and fed us and bed us. We received blessings at every home and left with smiles on our faces. I had the best chai in the world! We took the train into town one day. When I looked out the window, it was heartbreaking to see the daily struggles among the poor. I am grateful to God for what my husband and I have. Don't get me wrong. We, too, have to work hard. Unfortunately, some of these people don't have that option. All in all, my trip to India was a moving experience that I cherish.
Indian Consulate in Houston responds?but partially
First let me take this opportunity to thank Mr. Pillai (Consul, CGI, Houston) for responding so eloquently in the August issue to a reader's complaint. He does a good job of detailing the challenges on his side. No doubt, the number of people seeking services from all Indian Consulates, not just Houston alone, has increased exponentially over the years. If I had to respond to his letter about four months ago, I'd have been largely supportive of the Consulate, since my experience with them had been very good in the past. But now I'm as frustrated, if not more, as the applicant who wrote in July.
Mr. Pillai claims, "While screening?if we notice that the enquiry is for a service not provided within the time schedule?the service/status is provided immediately." That's absolutely inaccurate. Perhaps he should attempt calling all the numbers listed on his website and experience the frustration himself before making such a claim! If the phones are not even answered, how can he conclude that most of these calls are for inquiries and confirmations?
My personal experience is as follows: I had sent my U.S. passport for OCI stamping in May. According to his website, it should have been stamped and dispatched within 10 business days. I have been calling /emailing since mid June, but there was not a single RESPONSE till Aug 12th, 60 days later. Without my U.S. passport, I cannot travel internationally anywhere.
In fact, since nobody answers the phone, I waited six hours at the Atlanta VISA camp, with all my documents, hoping to get an answer. I finally talked to Mr. Pillai himself, and he could only spare me a minute. He took my document with him. His response to me at that time was, "Will get back to me by August 6th." That was fair to me then. But even a week after that date, there was no follow-up on his promise or response to my messages.
Mr. Pillai is good at explaining only one side. I personally spend more than 70 hours working every week and don't even get overtime pay. I'm sure most of the applicants are equally busy as well. That is what we have to do to provide ‘good service' and have job security here. We are all reasonable and don't expect 24-hour customer service from CGI Houstn. Is it unreasonable to expect a response within a week? Or after I repeatedly left messages? What Mr. Pillai has to realize is that he is in charge of providing a ‘critical service' (Passport Services). So our expectations from CGI Houston are higher.
A nice present for the dog days of August
Congratulations for another great issue of Khabar (August 2007). The cover story "Independent India at 60" encapsulates very well her journey, triumphs and tribulations. I very much enjoyed reading about Moni Basu's Iraq mission. She is a brave reporter and we all should be proud of her work. Moni is a great role model for the next generation of Indian Americans.
The interview with Dr. Jag Sheth was quite informative for entrepreneurs like me. His wisdom and iconic stature as a world-renowned marketing professor is a blessing to our community and to Atlanta. It was also a delight to read my friend Sue Hunter's prose-poem "Incredible India," which brought one more time all the happy memories of the India trip that I organized for Leadership Atlanta group earlier in the year. Like a movie, I could visualize the warm hospitality of Rajasthan, the bold and vibrant Indian colors, and all the traffic noise and the enviable confidence among the Indian youth. Above all, I was reminded how 22 of my American friends, who visited India for the first time, were so thoroughly impressed with India.
Thanks for bringing this ‘August' present. Keep it up!
Moni Basu deserves a Pulitzer Prize
It was a great pleasure to read Moni Basu's interview with Khabar. I've been a regular reader of her reports from Iraq in the AJC. Irrespective of her personal opinion about the Iraq war, her reports were always very objective. Moni Basu's reports from Iraq were projecting the humane side of a war that's rarely seen in the reports of other journalists from the scene. It's especially heartening to read the way she portrays the suffering of surviving families of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who died in this war. Whether the loved one lost was a soldier or a civilian, as she often says in her reports, the suffering is the same. I totally agree.
I always wondered why our Indian American media never gave any exposure to an eminent journalist like Moni Basu. I'm glad to see Khabar give her some well-deserved coverage. She should win a Pulitzer Prize for her work in Iraq.
Narender G. Reddy
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