22 Jun

I just got back from London, at the US Embassy for my visa interview.

Now, if you haven’t been to the Embassy before, you’ll be in for a shock if you ever go. It’s a garish 1970s lovechild of Alcatraz and Fort Knox, a horrendous pebble-dashed monstrosity, an eye-sore adorning Grosvenor Square, surrounded by the standard grey neo-classical Victorian edifices that seem to be London architectural thoroughfare, a stark contrast to the Embassy, London’s answer to Tour Montparnasse, the Scottish Parliament Building or Boston City Hall. To top it off, mounted on its roof is a giant bronze eagle. Which, on paper doesn’t sound too bad, but in the flesh (or concrete) just makes it look a bit like the Reich Chancellery.

But I’m not complaining, really. Despite the impregnable layers of security, the fortress-like aspect of the gates and the assault rifle-wielding policemen, it is really like a giant armadillo. It’s tough, scaly and ugly on the outside, but on the inside it’s really quite soft. The people inside were incredibly helpful and friendly, and despite the machine-like, monotonous nature of their work, processing endless queues of people carrying the same forms, I got the impression that they actually did take an interest, and that I wasn’t just another cog in the giant conveyor belt of the day.

So, here’s to you, the British-based part of the American Foreign Office. And thanks for the visa.


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