Or at least to some version of home.
I came to India in December for my brother-in-law’s marriage. I planned to stay for about 5 of my 6 months (my 10-year visa allowed me to come into the country without reapplying for a new visa each time but I can only stay for 6 months at a time). I said I never wanted to do another summer in India – because like… hot damn.
What actually happened was lockdown. I could not leave. I had to change my 10 year visa into a tourist visa which allowed me 8 or 9 months instead of 6. But I no longer have a 10 year visa anymore and will have to apply again next time. I’ve reached 9 months now, and I can’t stay any longer without being charged a fee or potentially being thrown out.
I did have an option for the American embassy to emergency evacuate me back to the US, but wow, it was so sketchy sounding. The email said that I would have 24 to 48 hours of notice that a flight was leaving. Since there are no domestic flights, we’d have to drive 9 hours to Delhi. We’d likely get through the checkpoints alright (me being obviously foreign and holding a ticket), but Aman might not be allow to travel back home as no one is supposed to be moving between cities right now. The embassy email ALSO said that I would not know how much the flight would cost or where it would be going until I was checking in. It could land literally anywhere in the US. I decided not to go that route and just wait it out.
Domestic and international travel has opened back up but is very limited and always likely to cancel the flight at any time. It still feels very hazardous to be traveling right now, especially when I’m going home to my grandfather who’s already in poor health. I don’t know if I can stand the guilt of infecting him with a deadly virus.
On the other hand, not only am I facing fees for staying, I’m also extremely burnt out on being here. I survived another Indian summer (which does not mean the same thing here as it does in the US) but only barely. India is always extremely physically difficult for me – although the variety of health attacks are truly impressive. I think I’ll go straight to a few different specialists when I finish my quarantine.
I thought this would be the last time I left India without Aman, but it wasn’t to be. The embassies have all but shut down, so there’s no movement or even ETA on his visa. We were just one step away from bringing him to America, and now we are back to uncertainty on when we’ll see each other again.
I know this isn’t a very cheerful post, but I’m just keeping with the global theme for the year.