An interesting visit day to DC for Indian Visa related work. The OCI Visa is contracted to and processed by an Indian company, BLS International with offices in major US cities. The US consular offices and India government coordinate activities through BLS.
Being frustrated by lost passport, lost application, automatic e-mail replies, waiting for total about 5 months on promised 2 month processing I was sought for help by my out-of-Washington friend family. It was after failing to physically locate BLS-DC address:
BLS International USA
Suite 100, 110 220
I Street NE
Washington, DC 20002, USA
through US Postal Service, FedEx, and Google maps, WMATA map for Metro transportation etc., I decided to venture out driving in this cold morning (January 13, 14). The GPS lead me to an attended parking lot. The attendant told me it was a government parking lot and he had no idea where to look for the I Street NE or BLS. But he told me to try at the newly opened Walmart. Thinking uncertainty about a restroom there and whether there was just a name and yet to open (because there was a lot of “Politcs” on the issue of opening) Walmart, I asked if I could just park anywhere else. It that vicinity there was no sign of a city called DC the way I had known (1971) even lived for last 34 years. From my look, I guess, the attendant was very kind to say that I could get a free parking space (it was 7:30 AM) on the road side around here! Wow free parking in DC! What a good luck! Quickly I tried to grab a space on the road side, and in a couple of minutes while talking to him I came out of the government parking and the spaces were gone. I of course was prepared for any parking space, free or not. With my stupidity I drove in a one way only road, in the opposite direction, got ended up in an empty (there was only one car parked there) parking lot. First I thought it must have been a mistake, so I read all instructions, plus I saw quarter accepting spots ( an old novelty) and due to other pressures in mind (u guess) quickly parked and started walking east to get to I NE (I actually parked in I NW where my GPS led me to remember?). At that point I figured out where I was that was one end of I NW and naturally I headed east driven by logical reasons. But good lord going east was leading to another parking lot and a couple of people cutting through and I could not venture to talk to them. But I am a Physicist so I had this strong conviction that opposite direction of West must be the East.
Once I was past the lot there was this H Street, NW and the cross streets were H and K. I practiced recollecting from my memory the relative position of I with respect to H &K. So, I entered to 4 visible and world famous company (NOMA, DC Community College, CNN, Federal Energy Commission, and DC government or something) only buildings and the security people led me how to find I east. After criss cross walking and not getting it I entered to the CNN building and explained to the security that I may kindly be introduced to a reporter if he could not help me find I east even before asking the intended question. He was really a nice guy (the lady before was also and she was trying to physically leave her sit to show me the direction but I gave her the impression that I had been living in the metro area for 34 years and she was very kind to believe me!) and told me with two right turns blindly will get me to I east. The rest was not too difficult and less confusing. It was 9:10 AM and I got a waiting n umber (5). The ticket issuing guy must have seen me disoriented and made it clear there is no need for me to be in rush, because I probably will not be called till 10 AM and I could buy a cup of coffee next door (I went out but did not see any shop and came back but felt guilty to showing him that his instruction was not right and so I went out again walked about a quarter mile grabbed coffee and came back). When I came back he was waiting at the reception desk (I believe he must be a manager type and the only guy running the steps) and he before even looking at my number (he must have been pleased that his instructions for coffee was successful) the ticket said to wait a little and at 10:10 AM I was called.
These BLS contractors working at the desks were superb! Unlike the e-mail behavior, even before I showed the entire paper work she (Usha) quickly reacted to the fact that she remembered the case of lost passport got remembered the name of the applicant etc., very pleasant talking to, and I thanked for her responsive personality.
Walmart – I now knew entire geography of the place, found it and went inside for the restroom. Another gentleman followed me and was vocally praising the neatness of a bath room in DC. I agreed. And so much that I felt obliged to buy and carry some fruits home.
My old GPS – Wow I made it to home on time as the GPS predicted.