About Miss Catastrophe: Someone- probably tired of hearing them- thought my mishaps were worth spreading… Inspired by Kyan Khojandi’s shortcom “Bref”, in this column, I, a.k.a Miss Catastrophe, narrate some of my daily adventures worth sharing, for a laugh, a lesson or both, in less than 500 words. So here you are, as long as you don’t correlate them to karma or to my intellect, you can proceed.
Item #2 in my 2014 resolutions’ list was: visit the voluptuary country of all senses for a taste of the one and only Dolce Vita.
Six months later, plans made, vacation days reserved, itineraries set, flights and hotels booked, all seemed to be in place and on pace for a well-deserved epicurean escapade…
It seemed. Indeed.
The major enabler, for those of us, the lucky ones, born in what the IMF labels submerging sorry emerging economies, was threatened. The infamous entry permit process was … chaotic.
For people like me, a passport is everything but an enabler to “pass” ports. To reach this almost esoteric objective I have to go through the lengthy and cumbersome visa application process where everything from my financial worthiness, ancestry, future plans and current employment situation are investigated before I get the holy grail: a little sticker that will authorize my highness to go spend my time and money in the country of my choosing.
Let me decipher this for those of you who are unfamiliar with this herculean but seemingly mundane endeavor. Imagine you are the well-accomplished CEO of a North-African subsidiary of a major Fortune 500 company (no this is not me yet) who wants to take his wife, for a weekend, to enjoy some warm flaky croissants in Paris. To do so, you will need to prep for days, gather a lot of paperwork and build a strong case in the interview for why your pregnant wife wants to eat LaDuree macarons aux Champs. At the end , you may or may not get your sticker, sorry, your visa.
Yet, if you were the grumpy bartender next door who got tipped generously on Christmas Eve, who can’t align two legible sentences and decided to fly to Ibiza to see what the hype is all about; then all you need is a plane ticket and an airport ride. Literally. Financial status? Employment situation? Background check? Forget it. Indeed, not all men were created equal, after all.
The difference between the two is one was born in Little Rock, Arkansas while the other one’s mom got her contractions in a miserable clinic in Ain Aouda, Morocco; …or in any country in the lower hemisphere for that matter… No one realizes that the place where a pregnant mommy loses her waters is such a major predicament of that baby’s future.
So, I was saying, despite being – at least in my mind- a well-accomplished, well-traveled, lawful individual, I had to go to that Italian consulate four times and, then go out of town for work and send a friend on my behalf two times. Yes, a total of six back and forth visits to get the damn stamp. The first time they failed to let me know they would be closed that Monday. The second time, it was not ready despite me inquiring about it more than the “ten business-days” rule. The third time, I was told: “citizens of certain countries require further processing.” I say fair enough, but this was not stated in the website. Come back Friday, the officer says. I do. A different officer is there: sorry Ma’am it is not ready yet. I certainly got a pre-taste of Italian nonchalance. I was mad, but remained hopeful and… courteous. I remind him I am out of town Tuesday and flying on Thursday. He promised: Tuesday it will be ready. My friend shows up on Tuesday at a quarter past noon. They tell him: sorry we only process visas from ten to noon. He tries to explain, to no avail. He calls them Wednesday, they promise to deliver on Thursday.
Did I get it eventually? Yes, I did. When? Thursday. Exactly four hours before my departing flight. Talk about suspense and uncertainty.
P.S. My friend who accompanied, also a fellow Moroccan, gets her visa drama-less and listen to this: for six months, vs. the miserable three weeks I was granted.
Bref, I went to Italy.