Shah Family

Saturday, March 18, 2006

March 10, 2006, and here I go….!

Hinglaj Mataji has helped again. I went to the Pakistan Consulate ton Wednesady March 8th in New Your City at 12 E. 65th Street. There was no line to speak of. I just gave my papers, they checked and asked me to take them to next window juts like one would expect in a bureaucratic organization. Those who remember the banking in old days in India (before the Multi National Banks) came in; you can visualize the scenario (san taking a token)! But they were courteous and asked me come back at 4 PM.

Weather was relatively nice – sun was out and the temperature was ~40F. I spent few hours strolling enjoying watching variety of people. Reminded of the story, I think, by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore called “The Road” that we studied in middle school. It was what the road “saw” as all the people walking and described what it “saw” and “read” about their life in their face, voice, smile, gait of walk and so on. It is a very interesting reading. As they say – If only walls can talk!

I enjoyed a Falafel on 39th street and spend few hours in New York Public Library at the Bryant Park (41st street and 5th Avenue). This is something I have wanted to do for almost 30 years! Not only it is a majestic and imposing building, it has equally impressive collection of books and other material too.

Went back to the Consulate around 4 AM and as promised the Visa was properly affixed in the passport. American efficiency was clearly seen. But, ah..h it lasted only few minutes. As President Ronald Reagan had said about Russians for Nuclear Warheads – “Trust but Verify”; I checked the visa carefully and I was surprised that it showed that it was valid for only ONE entry in Pakistan valid through June 6, 2006. How can I come back from Bombay via Karachi on the Pakistan International Airlines!

So I went back to the window and the Desi way (as Khalidbhai points out) was in works. I was told that that is the way it is. To get back I will have to request at the Karachi airport for the re-entry visa and if I do not get it then I would have to go to New Delhi and get new visa (and pay another $120 plus travel from Mumbai to New Delhi – not the same as traveling from Smithtown in Long Island to NYC on train in 1.5 hrs)! I left the consulate thinking it should not be a problem, I will just ask the visa at the airport.

But then I “heard” little voice of Reagan and went back to the consulate and gently but firmly explained that this would not work. I had attached clearly my confirmed travel plan from the Pakistan International Airlines that I was coming back via Karachi and I can not if I do not have more than one entry in the country. First response was a mild “we do not care about your ticket; that is the way it is.” On a second gentle push the passport was taken back and in 10 minutes it came back with a the word “One” removed with a white out and it was replaced with “Two.” Relief! I thanked them and left.

So now I have official Pakistan visa to visit the country twice between March and June of 2006 and that means I am more than half way to Hinglaj already!

In the meantime I got a mail from Chinar that she is finishing her 5 years of Bharat Natyam dance learning and her graduation (Arangetyra) is on May 31st and would want me to be present for the occasion. It will be difficult. Because that will add another week to 10 days to my coming back because Pujya Akkaji has told me to make Bijapur as the last stop in India before I go back to USA Which means I have to go to Bijapur from Ahmedabad and then to Mumbai. With the train taking 1.5 days to reach Bijapur I would be back in Mumbai. Pakistan visa is valid till June 3. I called Tushar today and explained the dilemma to him and Chinar. I have to book the ticket asap and I don’t think this will work. Tushar said he will check to see if the graduation can be moved up earlier date.

Even then

On the Home Front:

We..ll, the painting of the whole house is completed along with cleaning of the tiles and the wood floors. Yes, it does look nice. Thursday we also got new carpet and on March 14 we will get the Granite countertop and all the inside renovation work is almost completed. Cleaning of the clutter is still an on-going activity!

As the painting was going on Mike Carline (the painter) pointed out that all the black marks on the walls and ceilings were surely due to mal-function of the furnace and technically it is called “puff-back.” He advised to talk to the Home insurance company.

The adjuster Mr. Len came over and took the notes and pictures. We also called Hirsh and they checked out the furnace for any safety and efficiency issues. We showed the retaining wall also to Mr. Len and he advised to file a second claim. Will see what happens. Either way we have to get the retaining wall fixed and the pool and the ponds started before we get the agents to bid for the listing. I have wrap up everything by March 22nd!

But…Long live Murphy! 3 weeks ago I got new oil filter pads for the GE Profile microhood Oven in the kitchen and today….looks like it has seen the nest of its 10 years! Lots of fumes came out while I was in Puja and Anu was warming up coffee for the carpet installers. Looks like the big fat high voltage Capacitor is shot. Anu went to the Smithtown appliance and we need to spend $1,200 for new oven and cooktop. Problem is the coordination with the installation of the Granite countertop on March 14th!


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