Thursday, April 07, 2005

Cancelled without prejudice

This neighbour of ours ("thank you Mr Andreas!") gave us wonderful lilies from his garden.


I went to the American Embassy today. I queued at 7:30 am and was accepted at 8 am. Before continuing: the Outpost is in the wrong time zone. It is a political decision, like elsewhere. Geographically, it should be in GMT+3, but it is not, in order to have the same time as the 'motherlands'. This of course adds considerably to the overall everyday surrealism effect and contributes the side effect of everything starting so early in the morning.

They searched me and got me to remove the battery from my mobile (although it is so old, not even in its wildest dreams could it take pictures). They searched my wallet and found an old scratch card that wins $2.20 (by today's exchange rate), which serves as a memento. They let me keep it on me, with the wallet. Nevertheless, when they found my reserve condom in a hidden wallet pocket, they put it away in storage along with my keys and the disassembled mobile. Why the condom is anyone's guess.

I paid $100 and after more doors and guards and searches I was ushered in a room full of chairs. CNN was playing. Posters of Nebraska as a place with coffee places serving latte and from North Carolina as Monet's landscape on the walls, also: lots of issues of Time and Newsweek to read (did you expect the New Yorker? or the other left-wing one?). Interview time: my job, what I am doing in the Outpost. The visa officer then asked me if I enjoy it here. "Not particularly", I answered meekly. "No Compatridia nationals do.", he said. To which I answered nothing. I am one of them, then? Ugh. Keys, mobile and condom were returned to me upon exiting.

I received my 10-year US non-immigrant visa hours later. See, I belong to an élite of sorts. America wants our élites, despite what Emma Lazarus made her brazen Colossus preach to the "ancient lands".

The visa itself is a disappointment. It does not look like those shiny Schengen visas with their flashy holograms. It's cheap and papery and my (?) photo on it looks like a cross between an al Qaeda leader (said NewYorker) and a Jewish intellectual, with a dash of inexplicable Old World obesity. By mistake, they issued me with two visa stickers, one of which was cancelled with this post title's words: Cancelled without prejudice.


Blogger Francis S. said...

Dammit. I posted a long comment here about hating the American embassy (rudeness on a scale unseen anywhere else in Sweden, committed by both the American and the Swedish employees, who seem to have a near-pathological hatred of their jobs) but it's gone!

11/4/05 20:35  
Blogger Francis S. said...

(actually, it probably never appeared... I think I screwed up somehow. But it's here now!)

11/4/05 20:35  
Blogger sissoula said...

The first time I went to the American Embassy, I asked for directions and was shocked to be answered in a language other than English. This was no welcoming environment, or certainly the home away from home I expected. On the other hand, I recently had an appointment with the local immigration authority regarding my soon-to-expire residence permit. They made me wait in a drafty corridor just long enough for the anxiety to crest. I went in a room to face a committee of five. They talked about me, not to me, maybe assuming that I didn’t understand what was being said. I heard something about the November election, so I piped up and mentioned that I had voted in it, by post. They were impressed (for whatever reason), so I took advantage of their attention by adding that I was disappointed by the results. They laughed and said, “We all were!” and added that I could pick up my renewed permit within a month.

And unlike the old paper copy, the new permit is shiny AND hologrammed. Somebody missed the mark, though, and all the information got aligned wrongly. So where my name should be, it says my birthday, and so on. This is a case of good technology being wasted on the incompetent.

12/4/05 14:46  

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