Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reverse culture shock

In my zeal to get a good ticket home for the summer, I searched by price not dates. As a result, I accidentally purchased a flight leaving one day after my visa expires. Oops.

1) change my flight and leave a day earlier. Unfortunately, the ticket prices had gone up $4000+
2) pay a fine of 500QR for over-staying and face possible heat upon departure
3) Go to the visa section today and get a visa extension for 100QR

Not only was number 3 the cheapest option, I had braved the Mogamma in Cairo how hard could this be?

I barely need to write about this. A far cry from the circus in Cairo, this visa section here was a well-oiled machine. There were still a few Pakistanis and Egyptians who didn't want to wait in the orderly and quiet line, but there were enough law-abiders to scold them when they tried jumping the queue.

We were in and out in less than 10 minutes. All the counters on the visa payment side were run by efficient Qatari women, all with hand held credit card swipers. I punched in my pin code, they deducted 100QR from my account and sent me to the other side of the room, where a neat little sticker was printed out (in the time it took me to cross the room. Impressive.) and placed in my passport. (The man who processed mine was Officer Adul Aziz Hideous. I swear to God.) So I am legal again. Phew. No fuss, no muss. A nice change from sweating it out in France or the insanity of Cairo. I almost found myself disappointed by the anti-climax.

Every time Brits and Aussies ask us how we are adjusting, I force myself to pause and think about my response. I know they'll think I am nuts if I say that I am in awe of the shiny new-ness of the place or the technology and organization. They want to commiserate about beening dumped in the desert where nothing works. They haven't come from the epi-centre of lively chaos and colourful insanity like I have. I have to remember that before I speak. So, not to disappoint, I just smile and say how beautiful the sea and the sand is and that it'll take a little while but I'm sure we'll get used to the place.


Amreen said...

wow, your experience there sounds so much more civilized than my embassy experiences here! can't wait to see you.

Voracious, T said...

Really? Officer Hideous? That's how it was spelled??? How did you NOT get a photo! Anyway, I was going to post a comment about how I don't worry about pesky things like visas anymore, but then I remembered where you are. :P

Cairomaniac said...

I was SO tempted to take out my phone and take a photo of him and his name tag but he looked a bit humourless and I didn't want to risk being thrown out! I forgot to mention the guy in the dishdasha and bright orange, fake fur, Fred Flintstones slip-ons....need to invest in one of those spy cameras...