Here you won't find the pages of a pedantic journal, praises to fantastic places or accounts of memorable encounters. This is a collection of stories, thoughts, images, and most of all odd stuff, even though to someone else it might actually look ordinary. To discern its bizarre side, in fact, special filters are needed: cynicism, fussiness, stubbornness, isolation, impudence, nosiness and nerdiness. All flaws that, in different measure, this semi-nomadic being has got embedded in his genes.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The right passport - Malaysia-Singapore border
The immigration officer holds the stamp in mid air, while she's searching the passport for an empty page. Then she stops, scrutinizes, frowns and mumbles: "Why do you keep getting in and out of the country?". Sometimes, besides the seals, also bad luck and fate can fall on the pages of a simple passport. I point out that this is only my second time, the previous visits dating back more than a year. By coincidence the visas are on adjoining pages.
She checks the dates and relaxes, but only a bit. "Never mind, you'll explain that to my supervisor." They show me to a room, no windows, neon tubes. It's full of immigrants: most of them are standing. It's a world map of faces, a drone of languages: Indians, Pakistanis, Sinhalese, Indonesians, Filipinos, Cambodians, Thais and Burmese. I'm the only westerner, the officer calls me and in a matter of minutes I'm a welcome guest. My prison cell-mates continue to wait: they will have to wait longer, they've always been waiting. Their eyes are swollen, their cheeks are taut, but somebody looks at me a gives me a smile. If I were in their shoes I would be green with envy.
I set off for the causeway, on my way to Singapore, this huge shopping mall disguised as a state: while my mind is gliding on slide-like thoughts I've already forgotten the ineffable power bestowed on a nobody...if he's got the right passport.
Malaysia-Singapore border, December 2003
Photo "Immigration check-point between Thailand and Laos", by Fabio