Monday, September 29, 2008

Immigration fun

Highlight of my day was going to the government’s immigration office to extend my visa.

Behind the counters pot-bellied men wearing button up shirts, shiny badges and khaki pants sit sipping tea, chatting. Their feet are propped on desks. A few lady administrators sit behind large stacks of money. They yawn, look at their nails. Meanwhile, a handful of young scruffy westerners sit on plastic waiting-room chairs, vulnerable.

As I wait, I jot down a list of ingredients that must be universal to immigration offices, particularly in the developing world:

  • yawning ladies behind desks
  • pot bellied men with mustaches
  • scrawny men in blue uniforms by door
  • 2 -5 flies buzzing
  • peeling paint
  • young westerners with large faded backpacks, sandals and sunburns. seemingly malnourished.
  • a few older tourist couples – man wears Hawaian-type shirt, pants that can zip off into shorts, woman has a fanny pack, short hair, guidebook in hand
  • cracked plastic waiting room seats
  • foggy/stained plexi-glass barriers at each counter
  • exorbitant visa fees (to pay for all the salaries)
  • drips in the corner
  • rusty, crooked filing cabinets
  • smell of must

Please add any I’ve missed. There are bound to be more.


Elizabeth said...

Quite similar to post offices I've been to, with the exception that the immigration office sounds like it is a. sometimes open and b.might have stamps. I miss you Rosalie!

Michelle Shortsleeve said...

Sounds like a place a person might enter and fidget for a while, until it seems like a good idea to take a load off, on that one slippery tilty chair, where your feet reach easily and fit into the chip missing from the green one in front of you, slumping, sleeping, huuusshhh and slowly, quietly, in rhythm of the tap tap trapped fly, dissipating into a swirl of sparkly nothing caught only in the shaft of afternoon light of the single dirty window...