Last Wednesday, I departed Seattle for Chennai, India, for a presentation and two days of drawing workshops. Upon arriving in Chennai, to my chagrin, I was denied entry due to an expired visa. Clearly a mistake had been made by the processing agency that had handled my visa application, but just as clearly, I had made a critical error in not checking the visa upon receipt. The immigration authority officially declared me to be a deportee and booked me on a flight back to Seattle.
By the numbers:
- 20 hours travel time from Seattle to Dubai to Chennai.
- 5 hours of frustration, anger, and embarrassment waiting in the Chennai airport, hoping that I might be able to enter the country.
- 12 hours detained in a locked room in the Chennai airport.
- 2 hours waiting for departure from Chennai.
- 28 hours travel time from Chennai to Dubai to Seattle.
- 67 hours total from the moment my flight left Seattle on Wednesday to the return flight landed on Saturday. During this time, I was either on a plane or in the Dubai and Chennai airports.
I must apologize to all those who were inconvenienced by my failure to check the dates on my visa before departing Seattle—my host, the AARDE foundation; the architects who were planning to attend my talk; and especially the students who had made the effort to travel to Chennai to attend my workshops.
During all of this, I was not in a mood to sketch. However, I did document the events as they occurred and managed a quick sketch of the Chennai departure terminal where I awaited deportation from India. One doesn’t appreciate the freedom of movement we enjoy until it is taken away, even if only for 12 hours being detained in a locked room in the Chennai airport.
I am not giving up. I plan to return to Chennai soon to fulfill my obligations. This is assuming, of course, that the immigration authority there allows me to enter India after my last failed attempt.