US national stranded in Kerala does not want to return home; moves HC for visa extension

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While people stranded around the world are making frantic attempts to get back home, many Americans in India do not want to return to their country, which is one of the worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A 74-year-old US national in the southern Indian state of Kerala has even sought the help of judiciary to stay back in the state, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

Theatre director and writer Terry John Converse has approached the Kerala High Court seeking to extend his visa by six months. He told the English daily that he was feeling more safer in India than in the United States.

“I would like to get a six-month extension on my visa so that I will be able to stay in India as the situation in the US is currently very grim. India has been far more methodical and successful than the US in containing the virus,” he said.

Converse is an emeritus professor of theatre at the Washington State University, teaching all levels of directing, contemporary world theatre, and script analysis.

Currently staying at Panampilly Nagar in Kochi, he had extended his visa till May 20 in the belief that international flights would commence by then. With the Coronavirus pandemic showing no sign of abating, he approached the court for the visa extension.  

The theatre activist is living with the family of Charu Narayanakumar, who runs the Phoenix World Theatre group in Kochi. “I’m fortunate to be living with an Indian family in Kochi where I am very comfortable and safe,” Converse said.

“India in general, and specifically Kerala, is doing a far better job of containing the virus. The Kerala government is making people aware of the pandemic very efficiently and the quality of work is amazing,” the NIE quoted him as saying.

Media reports said that several US nationals who had initially registered their names for returning home did not show up when the US embassy in the country made the assessment for operating special flights. The embassy and consulates have currently paused repatriation flights for further assessment.

According to the US embassy website, the embassy and Consulates have successfully repatriated more than 5,100 travelers from across India to the United States so far.  “We are currently pausing repatriation flights in order to assess ongoing demand and determine what degree of assistance may be needed as the authorities lift lock-down restrictions,” the website said.

Image Credit: New Indian Express

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