Did you know?
Amazing thing happened to me yesterday that left me with conflicting feelings – on the one hand it made me feel like a kid again, and on the other, it annoyed me beyond belief. What happened, you might ask, to cause such extreme reactions?
Well, I had applied for an Indonesian visa – the process and the experience is yet another story that I will relate at some other time. The climax of the entire experience took place yesterday when I sent my office assistant to pick up my passport from the consulate. I am to travel tonight so it was essential that I had my visa yesterday.
When he got there at 2:30 pm he was told that he couldn’t have the passport although the visa was ready for collection. The reason, the lady told me over the phone, was that before she gave me my visa, I needed to provide her with a letter from my family giving me permission to travel to Indonesia alone. I was speechless for a few seconds and then I said “WHAT?” She explained that since I was single, I needed my father or mother’s permission to travel.
I was so irritated that I told her that it might be a wee bit difficult to get my mother to write a letter since she had passed away 5 years ago. Then your father will have to write it, she said. I asked if she knew how old I was. She said it didn’t matter if I was 80. If I was single and a woman, I still needed permission from my family.
Exasperated though I was, I had to remain cool and find a way out of this, so I explained to her that it would take me a couple of hours to get the letter from my father and by then the Consulate would be closed. I also asked why I hadn’t been told of this “requirement” when I applied for the visa.
She must have realized the lapse on her part because she softened a bit (which for anyone who has met her, is a miraculous achievement) and said she would do me a special favour and hand my passport over to my office assistant IF i promised to send the letter to the consulate the next morning, together with a copy of my father’s ID card. I naturally promised that I would. She then warned me that if I didn’t, I would not be allowed to board the flight for Jakarta.
I have sent the letter. My father was more than a little confused when I asked him to write it. It had been many years since I had asked for his permission to travel. I discuss my trips with him and inform him of my plans because he still worries about me but seeking his permission – especially in writing – is something I have not needed to do since I was in Junior school and had to get a letter for a school trip.
So all those single women who are planning to travel to Indonesia alone, please take heed! I swear if I hadn’t committed to go with the delegation, I would have told the lady at the Consulate where to go.
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