Part I — My Consulate years

Applying for a position at the Indian Consulate

When I first came to America on 13 April 1964, I was quite bewildered and to some extent helpless. I was staying with my main sponsor, Sam Spanier, and his friend, Eric Hughes, at 43 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich Village.

I had another sponsor named Mrs. Ann Harrison. Ann’s sister, Jean, had a house in Baltimore. She said that I would be able to meditate there and Ann would bring seekers and disciples. I was delighted and fully prepared to go and live in Baltimore.

But Kailash-ben, my sister-disciple from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, said to me, “No, no, you have to work at the Indian Consulate.”

I said, “I do not have any degree.” She herself was a graduate.

“I am sure you will get a job,” she assured me.

“It is impossible,” I said. “The Indian Government will require at least a Bachelor’s Degree. Otherwise, they will not allow me to work there.”

“At least you can try,” she said.

Then she went to the Indian Consulate. She filled in the form, she did everything for me — only she took my signature. Look at her concern for me! I am so grateful to her.

In a few days I was summoned to the Consulate. Very nicely I failed the typing examination! At the Ashram I used to type 65 to 70 words per minute, but here the result was 33. I had been out of touch with the typewriter for eight or nine months and I was going through all kinds of problems, so I very nicely failed.

They told me that after ten or twelve days they would examine me again. My friend, John Kelly, bought me a small manual typewriter, a Hermes portable, and I started practising. I was absolutely confident that in ten days I could pass the test.

Twelve days after I had failed the first test, I got a telephone call from Mr. Mehrotra’s secretary, Yvonne, who was from Jamaica, West Indies. She asked me to come to the Consulate. I was so happy, thinking that they would ask me to sit for the typing test again. O God, they did not ask me to take the test. Kailash-ben had submitted some of my Indian articles and poems, although she had written on my application that I did not have any qualification. Mr. Mehrotra is a great literary man and a supreme authority on Indian philosophy, culture and religion. He liked my writings very much.

There were five other candidates applying for that junior post and two of them had Master’s Degrees. Many Indians did not have any job and they were dying to stay in America. Only by working at the Indian Consulate or Indian Mission could they stay here. I was the sixth person to apply for the post. I did not have even a high school diploma, but Mr. Mehrotra chose me because he liked my writings. By his unimaginable grace, I got the job.

They told me when I started at the Consulate that in a few months they would ask me to sit again for the typing test. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was not given the test.

Sri Chinmoy, My Consulate years.First published by Agni Press in 1996.

This is the 1151st book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.


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by Sri Chinmoy
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