Sunday, 30 May 2010

Are you a terrorist ?

Answering inane questions is an unfortunate fact of life these days. Especially since security has taken centre stage in life, you are constantly asked useless questions at any place which has a security check. I was subject to a special dose of inane questions recently and hence this post.

The occasion was the renewal of my US visa which was expiring. In my line of business, a US visa is one of the necessities of life – like food, water, etc etc. Now the US visa process, for those who only want to visit it,(as opposed to immigrate), is actually a very good process. You apply on line these days, wait for an interview slot, go in person and spend half a day waiting. If you are a regular traveler, you are usually given a long term visa – usually for 10 years. Wasting half a day once in 10 years is perfectly acceptable and nobody should mind.

But in typical American fashion, you are asked some inane security questions in the visa form. Here are some gems.

- Are you coming to the United States to engage in Prostitution ?
- Do you seek to engage in espionage or sabotage ?
- Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
- Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted,or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings ?
- Have you ever withheld custody of a U.S. citizen child outside the United States from a person granted legal custody by a U.S. court ?

What do they expect as an answer ? There are probably tens of thousands of applications filed everyday and I would like to know if there was even one answer that said Yes to any of the above ?? The last question is particularly interesting. Does it mean that its OK to withhold custody of a non US citizen child or its OK to withhold custody in the US ??

Why ask such inane questions ? Of course, its only to make prosecution easier if you are caught doing any of the above – you said you would not and you did – capital crime !! In the US its more important not to lie; take the Bill Clinton scandal of a decade ago – His crime was not to have had sex with Monica Lewinski – his crime was to lie about it.

Same is the rigmarole in the airport if you are flying to the US. A bored check in clerk has to ask these questions . Are you carrying a gun ? Are you carrying a bomb? Well not exactly those, but something similarly inane couched in legal gobbledygook. Are you carrying a controlled substance ? What is a controlled substance ?? Drugs is what they mean of course, but there must be some obscure legal reason why it has to be called controlled substance.

Mischievously I have devised a list of questions that visitors to this blog must answer in their own minds

1. Are you wearing a red shirt and green trousers to evidence that you are “uber cool” ?
2. Have you watched the latest Tamil/Hindi/Chinese/whatever movie sitting in the front row of the theatre in the last seven days ?
3. Have you said Down with the Net Nanny at least three times today ?
4. Have you posted the comment "First" on at least five blogs today ?
5. Have you called your spouse "Her Highness", or "Senora" or "The Husband" or "The Fella" or "The Significant Other" today ??

If your answer is No to any of the above , you are denied a visa to enter this blog !!


gils said...

LOL :D :D ithu ilkuthu post illa..gummaanguthu postu :D :D

zeno said...

Sometimes the immigration could be little tough on you. Like asking you the same stuff again and again no matter how much you try to explain the technical stuff in simplistic terms! In recent times,Have heard few cases of deportation too...

zeno said...

sari pona pogattum. unmaiya sollunga neenga terrorist a illiya [like neenga nallavara kettavara?]

Ramesh said...

@gils -:)

@zeno - Oh - the border experiences are yet another story indeed. Not answering your guilty/innocent tag type question !!

kiwibloke said...

You should see the UK visa form, the latest one! Runs to 10 pages (actually they pruned it down from 15 to 10) Has weird questions like how much do you earn every month (understand that), how much do you spend on yourself, how much do you spend on your spouse. Try asking these questions to UK citizens and you'll have serious privacy issues.
PS: Back from Inverness, yes, I saw Loch Lomond and several more Lochs including one named very imaginatively as Loch Lochy, hunted down Nessie, did the whisky tour in EDI,a pub crawl in GLA, bought myself a couple of 15y.o. single malts in BLR duty free (40% cheaper than in Scotland, you must write a blog on how on earth you send stuff 5000 miles from where you make and sell it for a 40% discount)

Sandhya Sriram said...

you have made me quite ineligible for dropping a comment on your website...

your net nanny indeed did not grant me visa couple of times till now since you posted the blog and finally managed

therefore, struck at your immigration, i post this comment!

i wonder at times that what all we fill up and how much of paper we fill up at different places. we have piles and piles of forms being filled up across the world and most of them in hard copy. the amount of paper consumed, the amount of resources consumed to transport them to a processing place, probably punch them into electronic form wherever applicable and /or store them for future reference. phew... if one comes to think of it, we are still in stone age of technology. i am reminded of an idea advertisement which spoke about eliminating complete use of paper and using mobiles instead. i guess challenges are both on the cost/ease of use of digital medias as well as authentication risks. long way to go!!

Having said this, given that this is a light sunday post, and i have put such a heavy comment, i know i would have got rejected at the immigration and so i return to my country. (hoping that i will see u there shortly anyways :-))

Ramesh said...

@kiwi - Thankfully, I don't have to suffer the UK form until 2014. By then life might have changed and perhaps pip pip or toodleoo might be acceptable as an answer !!

@Sandhya - Wow - such an original comment. The word visa and you don't go together milady. You have access to every place in the world for few can charm with words and thoughts as you can.

Vishal said...

I fail in all the criterias listed down by you. Despite that, is there any chance I can apply (through other means) for a student visa at one of most "uber cool" and "most complete" institutes called "Business Musings" PLEASE!

I do not why but my internet explorer manages to open this blog at once whenever I am about to start browsing.

As for the visa forms, I have been asked to answer those strange questions, never thought what purpose they solved.

@Sandhya - great words! keep it up!

Srivats said...


Never been to visa office for US, but I could understand the insane (post fulla inane erukku, pudhu worda ? :) ) questions asked.

ok here are my anwers

1. NO
2. NO
3. NO
4. NO
5. YES


Thank god atleast I answered yes to one thing

Hope everything is fine at ur end :)
My loudest apology for not keepin in touch


Reflections said...

Thank goodness I heart was in my mouth till the 4th where all answers were No and then a beautific smile crossed my face when I read the 5th....even tho it doesnt read the exact same "better-half" does come close doesnt it????

And till u say it does, my heart will be in my mouth, my nails bitten till it meets flesh and my teeth chattering. Goodness this is worse than trying to get into US answering all those dumb questions.

ambulisamma said...

Sadly i have to admit that my visa is rejected,bcoz of your inane NO insane quesations like this.
For all the five a Big NOOOOOOO here.
I know one person who will answer get a visa by saying Yes for question no:5.(Vera yaaru namba Rammm dhan)

Deepa said...

Now now Ramesh, you are flipping on your own words here. Didn't you say, there is nothing dumb about asking a dumb question ?! :D

And how did you know that I call my husband 'The Fella'? :D:D:D

I get 1 out of 5, so I am in! :)

On your comment about lying, I will stand by the Americans. Even I am pretty high strung about people lying. Its not that big a deal that someone makes a mistake, however big or small; but someone who doesn't have the spine to own it is someone I don't want to be associated with ever. (Maybe thats the reason why these questions sound all the more dumb on the VISA form. People with a spine won't be terrorists. And a spineless moron will ofcourse lie on all those questions.)

Ramesh said...

@Vishal :)

@Sri - Lovely to see you around. Don't work too hard !! Btw you answered Yes to % ?????????? - what have you been doing in the last few months Sri while you disappeared from the blogosphere. We thought you were working hard ---- POST POST POST all the news ....'

@Reflections - Ha Ha.

@ambulisamma - Yes our friend RamMmm has a fondness for Spanish.

@Deepa - I know , I know, I know .... !! Now that's an interesting take on terrorists as spineless morons which they are. I have always thought the underpants bomber must have be mocked at relentlessly in the media. Not only did that idiot botch his attempt, he has screwed up his manhood as well !!

RS said...

If my answer is NO to any of the above???OMG!!all but one right. so, visa denied, is it?? As TKT-ish as could be, the post is!!

Ramesh said...

@RS - Now , I am speculating which one of the answers would be Yes :):)

J said...

Of course it is ... a YES to all 5 questions, with a minor three word omitted after "is". Anything to get the visa :)

But going back to the visa forms, it is of course to create as many possible ways of catching you for lying because it is harder to prove many of the real crimes. Much like catching the Al Capone for tax evasion.

Ramesh said...

@J - Ha Ha. Oh yes, the Al Capone phenomenon - but the blokes who fill in visa forms are small fry; why bother ??

LEB said...

You know how I feel about this whole process. I rest my case. Wait I think I am not allowed to do that. I am a temporary alien.

RamMmm said...

Having just returned from the land of your jibes, the fact that they look at truth (or at least want to) as important is true. It is everything. If you are caught lying (unlike our politicians, the latest being Sharad Pawar and kin in the IPLgate scandal) then it is the end of your public career, if it was high flying (of course the low-fliers will still be low-lifes). And when you say Clinton-ML issue, I can only recollect Clinton's words uttered with an interesting tone, "I did not have sex with that woman". :-) (Clinton seems to be an exception to that rule above. He flew down in public career but up in another)

I wonder if someone asked for stats from the INS on how many folks answered Yes on those questions. Somebody should have.

Ha Ha Ha. I am in because of 5. And I have a love of Spanish!!! The only Spanish I know comes from having watched Dora the Explorer eons ago and maybe a Javier Bardem/Penelope Cruz movie. Hmmm. :-)

And on reducing paper comment from Sandhya, I don't think we can ever throw it away altogether and yep, we are in the stone age. Paper is lovely, isn't it, no matter whether Kindles or iPads come!!! If we manage to, then we can sell paper newspapers (how ironical!, I have to re-qualify newspapers) on eBay for a fortune.

Ramesh said...

@Blogueur - Oh no ; this post wasn't for you to read !!

@RamMmm- I would love to meet the one guy who answered Yes to the INS questions !

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