Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Jumping Through Hoops

Thursday AM

I wake up late and struggle out of bed because today is the day I need to go to the Chinese Consulate (or Embassy, but I like the alliteration).  

I need to take my passport in and apply for a visitor’s visa to China for later on this year.  It is a crucial part of my plan.

I drive past the place a couple of times because it’s not signposted very well.  I end up parking on the street and walking back to find it.  

The CC is tucked in a corner of the multi-building parking area, with a set of tiny, cramped, awkward carpark spaces for visa applicants.

What were they thinking?  Didn’t they realise Chinese* people would have to attempt to* park their expensive* cars there?  Is this some kind of cruel joke*?

I think I am going to be late for work after this.  I have my application form, my “Surprised Refugee” passport photo and my passport.  All set.

I take a number (not well advertised, but I worked it out, cause Chinese people are smart*) and wait.  They call my number after a couple of minutes.

I say hello to the stern-looking middle-aged Chinese woman behind the glass.  She says nothing.

I give her my form, SRPP and passport.  She uses that weird gummy paste from kindergarten to stick the SRPP to the form.  She looks through my passport (which is blank, as it was the emergency replacement from Sydney).  

She asks if I have ever been to China.  I reply in the negative.  She looks suspicious.

I explain about the stolen/new passport.  Why would I lie?

She still doesn’t seem to believe me.  She checks my passport again.  

Next she asks if I was born in New Zealand.  It says it right there on my passport.  Auckland, New Zealand.  I confirm that I was indeed born here.  Possibly without the actual use of the word ‘indeed’.

Again, she seems suspicious.  She tells me I need to bring my birth certificate, as well as both of my parents’ passports.  Or copies if I so desire.

This sounds a tad ridiculous to me.

“Shouldn’t my passport be enough evidence that I was born in New Zealand?”

Apparently not.  Even though it really is.  She reiterates her requirements and sends me on my way.

Is this because I’m a banana?  [See my definition and explanation here.]  Maybe it’s because, as I fear, the way I write my name in Chinese looks like a 4 year old did it.  

Either way, damn her.

I call my dad and ask him to leave his (and mum’s) passports and my birth certificate out for me for the next day as I was going to be at work late.  [What if my parents were dead/overseas/living as hermits in deep dark Fiordland?]

At least I made it to work on time (just).

Friday AM

I almost forget to take the parents’ passports.  Luckily I don’t.  I decide not to make copies, since that would just involve another stop on the way.  I assume if she requires one, they will have a photocopier in the office.

I return to the CC.  I know where to park this time.  And I park perfectly, just so you know.

I reach into my bag for the application form.  It’s not there.  [I still don’t know where it is].  Luckily I have the last SRPP and filling out another form isn’t much of a bother.

I take a number.  I sit and wait.  I hope it’s not the same stern desk monkey from yesterday.  It is.  Joy.  She’s wearing a weird-looking jumper.

I had her all the paperwork.  Again with the gummy paste.  She looks at all the documentation.  She asks me to make copies.  

This surprises me.  

“Don’t you have a photocopier?”

She points to the back of the waiting room.  A photocopier sits innocuously in the corner.  I sigh.

As I approach, I realise it is a coin-operated machine.  I am not surprised*.  It is 50c per page, which is daylight robbery.  Cheap bastards.  I have to make two copies.  Bye bye dollar.

After waiting in line to see stern desk monkey again, she finally accepts my application.  I have to go back in next Friday to pick up my precious passport.  

Hopefully there will be a visa inside it.

*Yes, I am Chinese.  Yes, I am (sort of) kidding.  I just found the situation almost laughable, given my race’s stereotypical propensity for the general inability to drive, brain capacity and frugality.  Finding it funny is preferable to finding it infuriating.  In theory.

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