Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Stop Shop

Today we had the delights of our annual expedition to the One Stop Shop for our visas. It sounds such an accessible little place, doesn’t it?

I’ve heard some horrifying stories of trips there. You have to go, accompanied by all the correct paperwork, photocopied and countersigned four times and queue in twenty three different lines to get the correct stamp on the relevant bit of paper work, all in the right order. If you don’t complete the process in the day, you have to return the next day to try again … from the start.

Actually, those stories might be an outright lie. This place has taken on a life of its own in my head. My friend, L, said she’d rather a trip to the gynaecologist!

That is not the experience for us ‘company people’. We’ve signed one form each and sent our passports and Husband’s work permit to his place of work. Magic activities are undertaken by elves lawyers and we are informed of a time to appear, as a family, at the One Stop Shop, where we are greeted and seated. The lawyer then scoots about with all the papers, as detailed above, and returns to us to sign them. We all signed seven or so pieces of paper today, in Thai; no idea what they were about.

Eventually we are ushered into a room to meet the Immigration Superintendent. He connects passport to paperwork to face in front of him, for each member of the family and then the right to stay in Thailand is granted.

So now we have the right to stay in Thailand, I wonder, will we have a job?

With the help of lovely lawyer it’s so easy for us and yet, as my friend points out, the gynaecologist or dentist might be preferable.

I’ve thought lots about this recently. My second book contains more of this material than the one I’m writing now. I’ve tried to work out how to convey the foreignness, the struggle to do things. How to describe the newspapers, adverts and chatter all around me, being in a language I cannot understand well?

I think the experience with the lawyer at the visa place makes it clear to me how impotent I can feel here.


Queenie said...

That is interesting. I've never experienced anything like that outside the UK, but I have felt utterly powerless in the Liverpool passport office, with its security guards, big barriers between staff and punters, huge notices telling people what they must and must not do, inscrutable bureaucrats, and my own anxiety about whether I'd brought all the right documents, correctly completed, signed and countersigned, for the passport I needed urgently for work. It felt a bit like being in a foreign country, because I usually experience the UK as comparatively benign and comprehensible.

ChrisH said...

Blimey, sounds as if you have to be very patient to go through that process. Though I am just about to go to the dentist so kind of feel I might prefer to be in a one stop shop!

Carol and Chris said...

Ooohhh I remember that very's a tedious process!! Although the last time we were there I had to laugh...the woman who was in charge of whether we got the visa or not was wearing Garfield on earth are you supposed to take anyone seriously when they are in Garfield slippers?

I hope you get the job outcome that you want

C x

Jon said...

I have to agree with your experience, Thailand is THE worst place for bureaucracy.

Thankfully you had the magic elves, my work permit took almost 2 months to complete with every expert offering different advice. Finally I found someone who knew the system, they are like gold dust.

Debs said...

It sounds horrendous and so long-winded too. Best of luck with it all.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mexico! The US is better but the social security office is scary, scary. It's very hard to convey that feeling of powerlessness. I often think how horrible it must be to arrive in the Uk not knowing the language.

Lane said...

Gosh, it sounds very daunting. Official places are a bit scary at the best of times but another culture and language? Sheesh.
Good book material though:-)

HelenMHunt said...

I think impotence sums it up nicely. One of my worst experiences was on an interview trip to Poland, where after being 'looked after' for most of the trip I found myself alone in a restaurant, hungry and absolutely incapable of reading the menu. It really gives you an insight on how it feels to be excluded.

Leigh said...

Nice to see lawyers earning their money for a change!
As for the rest of it, I guess it's just one step at a time. Something will happen, you can be sure.
Thinking of you.

Jon M said...

Conveying the 'strangeness' could be challenging if you're going to avoid too much telling of info dumping. But you must have so much material!