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Monday
Apr022007

The Joys of Visa Renewal

So my visa expired on 19 March. My boss was understandibly discouraged that I had not taken care of it before, however, the time preceding this was so busy at work that I think I would have just been killed had I tried renewing it then. Rather than spend at least $700 to go and stay in Dubai, I undertook to renew it here in Kabul. That didn't fly. Way too much red tape and attention focused on our organisation. My status is legal here and it only takes a few days to get a new visa abroad, so I do now have to go to Delhi (it's cheaper to stay there than Dubai).

My attempt on Sunday at leaving the country failed. Yesterday, all in all, I had a fascinating day and it gives me a little hope for this country. So I went to the airport, and lo and behold they would not let me get out with my expired visa by paying a fine (or a "fine"). Nope, they've clamped down on that, but they don't have expedited procedures, so despite my whining I had to go back to the Foreign Ministry and get an exit visa. They did make my ticket refundable though. I found out today that I do better going to the ministries by myself--when one of my coworkers comes with they seem just like my servant and I like some other ignorant international. When I go myself I get to blab away in Farsi and everyone finds me adorable, plus in Kabul it's next to unheard of for an American to do things unaided. So the foreign ministry sends me to the Interior Ministry, where the deputy minister just gives me my exit visa straight away, there were no fees and he didn't even ask for a bribe (that's where I think the combo of being foreign and Farsi-speaking is especially endearing). I then went down to Indian Airlines for one of my flights--the manager recognised me from the airport and just changed the date, no questions asked. Then I went to Kam Air for my return flight and no problems. I spent 0 cents yesterday getting this straightened out. Then I went back to work and made the best spreadsheet ever!

Delhi will be nice. Relaxation and modern conveniences, plus lots of good food. I'll probably find a nice cafe with wireless and up my productivity. I also miss driving. Maybe I'll rent a car and enjoy not only paved roads but multi-laned freeways.

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