Today I left my condo early to go the Thai immigration office to apply for my one year retirement visa. The morning was one of those mornings that break as hot as midday.
I arrived at the immigration office bathed in sweat from the heat and the anxiety. So much sweat was pouring off of me that the application form I was filling out turned into the wrinkled tissue paper and I imagined that I would be soon deported because of it. But no, I think I received approval of my application. At least there was enough shuffling of paper and stamping of stamps to offer me some assurance. The stamping of the documents created a sort of hypnotic rhythm while I sat there slack-jawed and confused. You know, pick up a stamp, smash it on an ink pad, pound it onto the document, drop it on to the desk, pick up a different stamp and so on. While all this stamping was going on, I noticed that not only was each desk equipped with a great number of different stamps, they also had ink pads in four different colors, black, blue, red and orange. I marveled at the training they must have received to be able to select the correct stamp, color, document and page all while maintaining what could only have been the agency required official rhythm. I also noticed that these were not ordinary bureaucrats, my immigration officer’s desk tag identified him as Sergeant Major so and so of the Royal Thai Police Force who following his stamping and so on sent me on to the desk of a dour woman identified as Captain so and so of the Royal Thai Police Force who appeared to me to repeat the Sergeant Major’s shuffling of my papers and stamping of my documents.
Anyway, I paid my fee and it soon was over. The Captain nodded to me and I left, somewhat relieved but no more informed about what had just happened. As I returned to my condo I thought of what it must have been like for the uneducated peasants of southern and eastern Europe at the turn of the century or the latino immigrants of today presented with the mysterious immigration process in a foreign language. At least I have had umpteen million years of schooling and a full career in administrative law to shelter my confusion behind bemusement. No wonder why they turn to coyotes and the like or are willing to take a chance as an illegal.
They have coyotes here. Usually ex-pats trying to augment their meager pensions by offering to assist the new comer through the process. Their experience being that they have gone through the process one more time than you. Well, at least here we do not have to fear being shut up into unventilated trucks or if we are a woman, raped at some remote border crossing.
All I can say is if one is going to deal with immigration in any country it would be a good thing to have gotten as much education, and experience as possible.
Consider Victor Laszlo in Casablanca, what would have happened if he were just a hungarian laborer instead of an anti nazi communist or hungarian, anti-Semitic nationalist (it was never quite clear to me which) journalist. As it was everyone was stumbling over one another to get him his “letters of transit” except of course the Nazis’ and Rick. In Ricks case he saw the LOT’s as an opportunity for another night in Paris with Ingrid, instead all he got was a night in the desert with Claude Rains.
EXCERPTS FROM DIARY PRIOR TO POST.
THURSDAY APRIL 29 2010 9AM
In lobby of condo. Need to work on publications. Got to pee.
At Cafe le Mar. wi-fi down. Weather great. Spirits medium.
Tai called at about 2 PM. Said she wanted to come to Pattaya on Sunday. Said she had to leave Aslon with mother then come here. Said she will tell me everything, all the truth when she get’s here. Asked if I still wanted her to come. Tempted to say no but smell a story in it. Suspect she thinks she can get money from me for Aslon, promising to return with him and leave. It would not be me not to play it out. I wonder, is it loneliness that makes me not cut and run, curiosity, guilt. I do not know.
Paid the rent and maid service. Will go to Pattaya to meet Bill and others for dinner.
Began work on Jessica’s Birthday Dream and completed first draft of Kos diary #2.
Returned from night out with Gates and Gary. Dinner at “tables.” Thought I saw Tranny model from the tranny sites. Went to Windmill Club. Pretty raunchy, then to _______. Raunchy also. then I left and came home.