Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Have a nice visa!

The USA Embassy requested that we list all the places we had lived and/or visited in the last 10 years for our family visa. This was a mean chore. Jacques spent a whole morning doing his on an excel file, while I flicked through the photo albums looking for where we spent holidays …and trying to remember when I last visited America (in 1992 and 1980 as if it mattered). This was an excessive amount of information, like who was going to check all this information! But we turned it into an interesting summary of our travels so far.

We worked out that Marc had visited or lived in 16 countries over the last nine years. Arriving two years after him Nina totaled 14 and Gabriel managed to squeeze in 9 countries in just 3 years! In bold are those countries we lived in and the others we visited: Hungary, Egypt, Jordan, Switzerland, France, Germany, England, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China, Bali, Vietnam, Australia and Cambodia.

The KL USA Embassy, where we went for an Interview, made a big thing of security, with airport-style guards and x-ray machines, thumbprints and sneaky questions. It was not a good sign. Everyone inside looked terrified. Our tricky question was ‘Why were your children all born in different countries?’ So how does one answer that? Jacques smiled and said we had planned it that way and the chap laughed and banged down the official stamp and we were in.

But after coughing up a huge amount of money for the privilege of a 3-year working visa (where the Spouse could not work) we then had to pay even more because 4 of us had UK passports and there was ‘no reciprocal agreement’ as the visa-guy called it. What? Between England and America? When we went to war in Iraq to help you? I was close to shouting but didn’t want to get us a premature black mark on our new visas. With all that smart technology we could be refused at the airport gate before we left Europe. We grudgingly paid and outside watched delighted Malaysians clutching their newly stamped passports with joy. What were they expecting in the land of plenty? A lot of disappointment I was sure, they were too optimistic for their own good…I wanted to shout, Stay here! Don’t give up your beautiful country for America!

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