Humiliation at US Embassy Consulate Chennai

It takes time to recoup sometimes after having to go through the indignity caused because the entire process/people lacks awareness about handling people in wheelchair.

We stayed at New Woodlands hotel a 5 min drive to US Embassy Consulate office near Gemini Circle as the US Visa processing is done on 2 separate day.

Day 1 to submit all supporting documents, verifications, DS-160 bar code approval etc. …the queue was lengthy and the access to lift was turned off or out of service was speculation among the staff and security person. We were told to wait until they figure out an option to get me inside for screening. “I always wonder why people handle (me) wheelchair person like for first time ever, no one gets the concept of ramps, slops, lifts are accessible solutions for someone in wheelchair who cannot stand, walk or even fly …. Is it lack of awareness when it comes to accommodate people in wheelchair or the level of ignorance?”

So anyway, we finally managed getting inside with a poorly installed ramp with a steep 80 degree angle …where I lost control to manage my joystick and with push an huff I was up the floor. The screening was success. I had prior requested for my wheelchair access at the main embassy with customer care and this time I informed the officers once again so the process to be handled smoothly the next day.

Day 2 was worst of the previous as I was told my wheelchair cannot be allowed. I requested to reconsider as I had the prior informed about my power wheelchair and the fact that I become even more paralyzed to be seated in different wheelchair. None considered to check back but and I was given a bad shaped manual wheelchair to shift me. I was made to transfer in middle of the crowded Gemini circle main road with bystanders gather to watch the scene.

I was pushed roughly on the uneven cobblestones that the wheelchair stopped after every push making my neck losing traction and dropped back, my hands & legs position was jerked with loss of balance. The person pushing me didn’t even bother about the discomfort he caused pushing me and didn’t pay attention to even listen me as I was telling him my necks hurting and I was short of breath. After some giggles people inside security line gate, someone asked me ‘Medical Treatment in US?’ for which I ignored as my pain was immense and the stereotype questioning about people is wheelchair and I wasn’t in going to tell ‘I was going to US on vacation’.

I was parked in a corner for my turn with the Consulate and I was stranded with no clue of my waiting number, I was broke with tears rolling down shattering my happiness and my ability to even think. My turn came, the American saw me from his window to first ask if I was Ok & if I needed Water? I said No; He flipped through to ask ‘Oh you work with EMC, Nice to know they approved your extended vacation’. Thank you Ma’am, your visa will be delivered to you.

I was pushed back to same pavement were my parents and my driver was shocked to see my posture of discomfort, they told the person if he didn’t notice my neck …he apologized for not knowing about it and wished good luck for my treatment. (None spoke to his offense). I was transferred back to my power wheelchair. My parents knew I was handled badly and was humiliated but the support they provide me always was worth to happily tell them ‘I got my visa approved’ with a smile of accomplishment

The experience pondered loads of unknown facts and solutions that needed to be sounded to Consulate officials about disability etiquette, disability sensitization awareness for the staff and by far don’t treat us like terrorists.  

If you have read this piece and know counslate official who can bring the change, requesting you to make them aware of this /share this info and I can additionally follow up to help with solutions.

On a bright visa day at New Woodlands

On a bright visa day at New Woodlands

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Humiliation at US Embassy Consulate Chennai

  1. bhuvana says:

    Had tears in my eyes Deepa.( I can imagine how it must have been) Glad that you could make it after all the agony. The foremost thing that is always missing in India , understanding how the other person might feel .

    • Deepa says:

      Yes Boo, these are from my personal dairy..but I thought to voice such experiences for ‘Better Tomorrow, Bright India’. I strongly believe lack of awareness is reasons to such incidents. I’m fighter to face such challenges as I have experienced worst scenarios.
      Guess what I have more such journals ahead… 🙂

  2. nv rama rao says:

    my sympathies with you deepa, as a parent of a wheel chair bound son, i experience every time we visit various places in India, airports, etc. I was amazed that even the GRE/GMAT, TOEFL test centres are insensitive though conducted by ETS and many requests to use your own wheel chair falls on deaf ears. Why is it so… I still fail to understand..

  3. shu says:

    I appreciate your courage and determination De. I see you as the voice of so many people like us.

  4. Suresh Dasarivijay says:

    It’s very discomfort for me to know such things happening in places where the people of literate works. These are the small things but surely and MUST need to change in the offices.

    I wish you have a good time ahead Deepa

  5. Ravikanth says:

    I remember saying this before…..some of us strangely missed the bus of evolution process. admire your gutsy attitude though Deepa. Have a fantastic vacation.

  6. Sunil K Sud says:

    Deepa,
    I am sad to know that you have to go through all sort of difficulties in U S Consulate. People should understand and be sensitive and caring.

  7. […] last post received highest number of share and hits with loads of discussions on sensitization and disability […]

  8. s.bhanuchandran says:

    Hi Deepa ! I had put your blog on US VISA episode in Rotary Circles, one of my fellow Rotarians in Chennai has brought it to the notice of the Consulate and highlighted the issue. The compassionate consulate has immediately instructed suitable changes in all their offices in India

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s