By: Kerrie Olejarz
Just the thought of going to the High Commission appointment could be terrifying, but we were as ready as we could be and got our stuff together and waited for our car. We had to make a pit stop on the way to get some passport-sized pictures of Cailyn for her citizenship paperwork. Our driver Mishra arrived and we packed ourselves and Cailyn into the Tata car and told the driver we needed to stop for photos. Our immigration liaison knew of a place to go close to the Canadian Hugh Commission so we quickly called her and let her speak with our driver. He knew where to go, so we were on our way.
Mishra was a very chatty driver, and asked us about ten times: “baby sleeping?” He quickly got us to the photo shop and the four of us headed in. The guys at the photo shop had all the country specific specs posted above the cash register so we felt quite relieved knowing that we would not need to come back for a second go-round. The guys laid out a white sheet on which we put Cailyn for her first professional photo. We snapped fingers, talked to her, the shop worker jiggled his keys, but no way in hell was she opening her eyes! I picked her up and took her outside for a moment, where she miraculously opened her eyes!! I told the boys and they brought all the supplies outside and luckily within a few minutes, the master photographer captured Cailyn’s picture, with her eyes open! What a relief this was as we were starting to feel a bit pressed for time.
Mark asked them to give us 6 passport size and 6 citizenship size which was not going to be a problem, just a wait. I took Cailyn back to the air-conditioned car and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally, almost one hour later Mark appeared with the two tiny envelopes. The High Commission was two minutes away and before we knew it we were checking into a small piece of home. We had a baby bag, a baby in a travel bassinet, a cell phone, and a camera. The cell phone and camera were confiscated at the security check in and catalogued to a corresponding number of our visitor’s pass. We were patted down and scanned with a metal detector. Cailyn was simply admired by the guards. The whole entrance and grounds surrounding the High Commission was guarded by heavily armed men. I am not a gun enthusiast but these guys had some pretty major looking guns strapped to them!
After checking in we were told to go to the main building to meet with consular services. The secured grounds were beautiful, lush, almost resort-like. Not a plant or a blade of grass was out of place. Speaking of grass, it is unusual to see a lot of grassy space in big cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, so this was an unusual site for us. When we entered the main building we saw a few people in the waiting room, who looked like they may have been waiting awhile. Not a good first impression, but, when we checked in at the reception area, through the very thick bullet proof glass, we were pleasantly surprised to find out the wait would not be too long. It was difficult to hear the woman behind the glass, and throw in the thick Indian accent to make things even that more special! We took a seat and waited, and of course, Cailyn started to get hungry. She did not cry, but her tongue would go in and out when she was hungry, and amazingly after less than 24 hours with her, we had picked up on this! I prepared her bottle and then the consular services representative called Mark in. I tried to go as well and they said they only required the father. I did get a little worried as sometimes Mark’s listening skills are not the best, and today, we needed him to be all ears! After about ten minutes Mark exited the consular’s services booth with a blank look on his face. I asked what was said, what happened…and, he had no idea. I started to panic internally that this could be a disaster, but what he did mention was that we would have to come back on Monday. So, despite being the one who always takes charge of these kinds of things, I had to let go of my controls, and just trust that coming back Monday would work out just fine. We went back to the security booth to return our visitor passes and gather our phone and camera. We then called Mishra who had to leave the grounds to wait for us. He said he would be about ten minutes, so we planted ourselves under a tree to get some shade while we waited. Before Mishra arrived, we quickly took pictures of us and Cailyn outside the High Commission as this was a day we would never forget and to have a picture to show our friends and family was really important. Overall the first experience at the High Commission went well.