KOCHI: While people stranded around the world are making frantic attempts to get back home, a 74-year-old US national has gone the legal way to keep himself in Kerala.
Theatre director and writer Terry John Converse has approached the Kerala High Court seeking to extend his visa by as many as six months.
“I feel far safer in India than I do in the United States,” an elated Converse told TNIE on Wednesday, after having received a favourable HC order on Tuesday evening.
“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.”
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 through advocate KP Santhi.
The HC said: “It is needless to state that, if in case international flights do not start their operations by then, the petitioner’s visa will have to be extended beyond that period also.”
Having come to India on a Fulbright grant in 2012, Converse studied the varieties of indigenous theatre in the country, especially in Kerala. He is in the state now on a tourist visa allowing a maximum of 180 days’ stay, which has expired.
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.”