My shiny little online spot to help y'all keep track of me while I galavant around London.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I need a new passport. Mine is not only full, but it's falling apart.

That it's falling apart isn't me bragging 'oh, I've been so many places that it's worn out,' because I really haven't been that many places, not enough to hurt a passport. No, I spilled apple juice on it about three years ago (back when M/T/M visited). Ever since then, it's looked like it's been thru the wash -- the cover feels strangely soft like fabric and is peeling apart, and the inside pages are ink-stained and all curvy, the way any paper curls when it gets damp.

I'm often asked when going thru customs whether it went thru the wash. This started the very day I had my juicy little accident. After we arrived in Dublin, I was the first to go thru customs. A very Irish looking man -- big and round, with a massive chunky nose and red cheeks -- took my still-damp document, and warmly, kindly asked if I'd accidently left it in a pocket, sending it through the wash cycle. Cheerfully, I said: "No, I spilled apple juice on it."

With a sudden look of utter disgust -- maybe he doesn't like apples? -- he slammed the visa stamp onto it, leaving behind a smeary green mark on the page, all while shaking his head at me.

He's not the only border control personnel my battered passport has offended. I've been told time and time again to get a new one. One lady tried to tell me I was lucky she was letting me in, as my passport was in such poor condition. She was full of shit -- it may look a bit worn, but everything in it is perfectly readable... mostly. On the way to Bangladesh, I got lectured -- again, with a shaking head -- for not taking good enough care of such an important document. Don't I know better?

Since the juicing, however, it has been thru a lot. I have a tendency to just chuck it in my back pocket when I travel, so I really should get a proper cover for it. The back is now covered in security stickers -- a few red and white Virgin Atlantic ones, and some others from the US -- and sticky bits attract dirt where others have fallen off. The covers of the binding are worn and curved and the whole thing is a bit crumpled and crinkly.

I've been avoiding replacing it tho, despite the poor condition. I'm rather fond of it. I got it in Edmonton, just weeks before I moved out to London. In my usual habit of leaving things to the last minute, I had to pay about double the usual cost to get it rushed to me in a few days -- I think Daorcey was one of my references -- in order to rush it off to Ottawa to get my visa (hopefully) rush-approved, stuck in the new passport, and rushed back to me. It arrived the day before I flew out, thereby stressing out me and my parents that I'd need to book a new flight.

And now, it makes for great reading material when standing in line at the airport -- something which happens often. Queued up for checkin/bagdrop/security/moresecurity/boarding/etc, I'll flip thru the pages and try to remember what the various stamps and visas were for and reminisce about trips with DarNat, M/T/M and my family.

I have two UK work permit visas and a student visa which take up a page each, as well as my shiny Russian one and the mostly-handwritten Bangladeshi one, which I love because it took so much trouble to get (never put 'journalist' as your occupation in a visa form -- just means delays).

On the other pages, smeared and smudged black stamps for Heathrow and Gatwick arrivals criss-cross black-and-red visas for Cologne, Prague, Amsterdam and others. Others, some so faint they're hard to read, occupy lonely corners of otherwise empty pages. The Americans are neatest, keeping their blue-and-red oval visas clear of others, in proper rows.

My passport no longer has any blank pages left (which caused me to miss a work trip to Shanghai a few months back), so there's no avoiding replacement now. It's nothing on par with some I've seen -- Mike's is an impressive record of the ridiculous places he's been, while his friend Peter's is just ridiculous (they worked together as tour guides, so there ya go.) Still, I have to admit, when I first got this passport, I never thought I'd fill it up before it expired.

So this time, I think I'm going to get the extra-big 48-page one...

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Blogger Nat said...

You can a supersized one? When I renewed my passport, I was without one for a few weeks and I felt almost naked without it. Like I couldn't just go anywhere if I wanted. I'm sure you'll have that feeling doubleplus.


Blogger Nicole said...

yeah, the standard is 24 pages, and you can get 48.

One of the reasons I've held off getting my passport is because of that very naked feeling. What if I drop off my passport to the consulate (or high commission, whatever) here, and then the next day, something happens, and I want to go home? Scares me.



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