January 24, 2017
20+ years is a long and satisfying journey at the best of foreign mission at India. Yes, I am talking about US Embassy @ Delhi. The joy, pride and benefit of working in a structured and controlled environment is unique. A mini-US , within India. Over the years, I experienced 'change of boss' slightly less frequent than change of guard at the Royal palace, every 3 years.
Although the job has been fun, but exhaustive...The general perception is 'visa department is cream'. But, I served the American Citizens desk, not a cake walk. The 'blue passport' holders were very demanding and specific erring towards impolite. The Indian infrastructure and system is simply a mismatch to their expectations.
Everything looked like emergency and crisis. So the technique to prioritize was 'Does it relate to Life or Death for a human life' . Many crisis handled including those in distress due to Medical emergency, Accident, Air crash, Train Accident, Suicide attempt, family-feud, emotional trauma, arson, theft, murder, fraud....and the list goes on.
I realized that the local system is beyond comprehension of the Americans. They would struggle to get basic help, guidance or support even during life / death situation. A very frustrating experience for those in foreign land. Whenever I reflected my compassion, the local system and friends would quiz me for my unnecessary dedication.
While being on that side of the table, I needed to rise upto the occasion and do some juglary, which American considered 'Magic'. Behind those magics were my precious contacts in Govt and non-govt arena. The Hospitals, undertakers, Airlines, MHA, MEA, Police, Air force, Customs, Cargo, Banks, High Commissions, ...Swiftness and communication across time-zones was mandatory.
I was well rewarded at India and ultimately at the White House in 2004 as Foreign Service National of the year. By 2012, a day came when I was done with the Glass-ceiling and frequent change of guards. I decided to be restful. But the destiny was elsewhere. A friend sought my help in his travel business, for visa-advice. The area that I worked alot at embassy, but was abused in the outside world. I was reluctant to be in that messy thing. A Good time-pass ! And was occasionally suggesting my friends in other high commissions for their crisis-management. Someday, someone approached me to help an expat in distress, for a fee. A new journey started....
I started a company named International Star Assistance Private Limited (ISAPL), helping foreign nationals in distress, at South East Asia. My attitude continued to be that of 'service class', with compassion. My fee remained meagre and services were far more comprehensive. So it look long time to get the feel of an entrepreneur in commercial arena. In the last 5 years, the company served citizens of 32+ countries. For me, this still is something 'humane' for those in distress !!!
The services of ISAPL are many. www.ISAPLgroup.com Growth is good. Reach is global and recognition is deep. A wide and detailed network of professional service providing institutions. People say that they are yet to see another woman in this arena !!! I am proud of my father, who let me be what I want to be, and not be just that 'little girl'.
January 24, 2017
January 24, 2017
Stories by Poonam Jain