During my months-long stay in Malaysia, I had gotten acquainted with a Pakistani fellow, who with an act of sheer folly had shown characteristics similar to mine. In a group of five, we had created a lifelong bond that remained upon farewells. So, when an invite to his fatherland dropped on my doorstep, excitement had peaked. With little knowledge of Pakistan, apart from the presence of massive mountain ranges, I had enthusiastically given my confirmation. Now all that remained was obtaining a visa. How hard could that be?
First thing you are faced with is a long list of requirements, which are taken serious by the indolent man at the consulate. Though most didn’t intimidate with a little visa acquisition experience in my pocket, even a simple task as getting bank statements had been entangled with having to meet a worker at the bank to have the papers stamped. Lacking time on weekdays, refusing to skip days of work as I hoarded every penny that came into my account apart from the Saturday-brewski’s, details had to be skimped. A little under two months before I was set to go to the archipelago of my love, upon my friend finally finding time to gather papers, I ambled to Melbourne on my one and only day off. Carrying an envelope bearing the uninspiring application, it took me a moment to find where I needed to be. Across from a playground in between a small restaurant and what seemed to be a daycare stood the poor excuse of a consulate.
Forgiving the interior, or the lack of it, I stumbled in. A carpet stretched on the long floor. A huge space with halfway on the right side a small office that had a slide-window functioning as a counter. Across from it were a few chairs and a sofa. Furthermore, apart from one watercooler, the spacious room was empty with barren walls. Initially, I thought to be lost, but seeing an increase in foreigners wielding passports, I reckoned to have found it and sat down. Awaiting my turn, I began conversing with a seemingly hot-headed man that had been spewing words of frustration. As we conversed, his temper seemed to quiet down. Calmly, yet agitated he shared his opinion on the bearded man and his negligence to do his job. With his flight on Monday – and tomorrow, before weekend, being a public holiday – he had been drowning in stress and thus sank to bitter anger. Six weeks and his application still had no answer which initiated the start of my worries.
Moments passed and it had been my time to sway the man into accepting my papers. However, with the swift waving of the disregarding man, I was soon rushing through town to reform my declined request. Due to the fact that the consulate only opens their doors for three and a half hours, time was short. Thus, with long strides, I went to retrieve the wanted stamp. I phoned Waqas, my friend in Islamabad, far before the roosters had awoken. Half asleep, he was forced to improve the itinerary because the i’s hadn’t been dotted and the t’s needed to be crossed. They, though truly it seemed only the man behind the counter, needed details into the deep. Locations with date and addresses of hotels or friends. Despite the fact that the true important information had already been jotted down. After a couple modifications, I stood in the library forging my friend’s signature – at his wish – to finalise the form and then gathered all papers to bring to the dallying man and with few minutes to spare. Too occupied charming a lady, I grew weary of his attitude with the second, nevertheless I remained calm. Finally, time was made and the papers were welcomed. That’s when the waiting game began.
In my final week, I was free from work. Though sulky over Australia’s policy which forced me out of a fantastic job with greater coworkers, I remained fizzed for the oncoming travels. Sitting at home, I glared at my phone as if waiting for a call after a successful first date. However, it remained remarkably quiet without any incoming calls or messages. Praying it to be a mistake, on the day before mid-day I hurried my way back to the empty building where the man carrying the usual slow look stood fiddling his pen. Having been told to wait a “moment” for someone, he ended up wasting hours of my day only to shrug and point to the door. “Sit tight and await contact.” A slow two days pass and with anxiety creeping I decided to return and at the very least demand my passport. After all, the ineptness of this man would not be the reason my girlfriend would have to miss me longer. Exhausted of the game, I had assured myself to be the first far before his key entered the hole.
With tent and all, I had camped out the front door with binoculars ready to spot him. Marching back and forth, I saw him sluggishly approach with a smile that spoke “Oh, you again.” Once close enough, his dismissive voice ordered me to return only when having received a message. Refusing, I demanded my passport and exclaimed I would not go anywhere. Putting my foot down, he agreed to contact his coworker who’s a step up on the ladder. After an hour, with a group of other unhappy complainers that had trickled in, we were guided upstairs where the one higher-ranking would take over. As a group, we somewhat bonded and wished each other luck.
A friendly woman welcomed me into her office with an approachable smile. As I tell her my name, she sighs and came not far from calling out the languid nature of the bearded man. While I had been staring at my phone for the notification, my passport with visa and all had long been ready and waiting for pick-up. With annoyance in her voice, she had picked up the phone and called downstairs and all the while I enjoyed every minute of it. With a tail between his legs, the final time I saw his annoying face, he handed me the passport. One supportive woman from the group cheered me on and wished me luck on my journey as I trotted away with a grand smile. That smile only widened months later upon hearing of the demotion of the incompetent sloth.
Don’t you guys hate the process of visa applications?