Stella was denied an entry visa for China. Nine months old, and already causing a ruckus.
We had planned to take a little late-winter break, and visit some friends in Beijing and then make a quick detour to our old stomping grounds in Shanghai for a cheap massage, a pedicure, and a side of fake DVDs.
On Thursday morning, Stella and I trundled off to the Chinese consulate, armed with our documents. We filled out all the necessary paperwork, waited and waited and waited, chatted with strangers, tried to remember how to say Switzerland in Chinese, narrowly avoided two meltdowns, waited some more, and then were finally sent on our way with instructions to return on Monday to pick up our passports, which, theoretically, would be filled with brandspankingnew visas.
But alas, it was not to be. Stella's history as a dissident democracy protester resulted in a denied visa.
Well, not really. It is actually much more annoying and much more bureaucratic.
Stella is registered in Japan as a Swiss. But she travels on a Canadian passport. We are halfway through the registration process for her Swiss passport, and just have to go to Tokyo to finalize everything. But apparently this is a big problem for the Consulate.
So, I got a call from the Consulate later that afternoon, visa denied. Tickets already bought. And HULKSMASH someone got an earful of WHATTHEHELL I CAN NOT BELIEVE THIS MY DAUGHTER HAS TRAVELED TO FIVE COUNTRIES AND WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO CHINA HOW JAPAN HAS HER REGISTERED ITS NEVER BEFORE BEEN A PROBLEM NOT EVEN IN THE USA WITH ALL THE PARANOIA AND HOLYMOTHEROFMARY I ALREADY BOUGHT MY TICKETS AND WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW IF I WERE TRAVELING INTO CHINA FROM A THIRD COUNTRY THIS WOULDN'T EVEN BE AN ISSUE OH MY GAWWWWWD!
The kind* person on the other end of the phone helpfully suggested that I just get a Swiss passport and then come back the next day.
(Channeling my inner Charley Sheen) WHATTHEHOLYHELL HOW CAN I GET A SWISS PASSPORT IN ONE DAY DO YOU KNOW HOW COMPLICATED THAT IS ARE YOU CRAZY WE HAVE TO GO TO TOKYO TO GET THE PASSPORT AND THEN TALK TO THE FATHER'S HOME VILLAGE AND THEN JUMP THROUGH FIVE EXTRA HOOPS DO YOU WANT TO CALL THE EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND AND REQUEST A PASSPORT FOR US, DO YOU??! DO YOU!!!!
Perhaps not one of my proudest moments. Especially as we were walking down the main street, talking on the phone, as this tirade erupted from my mouth. Luckily I was so angry that I didn't even notice the judgemental stares and sideways glances and whispers of Crazy Foreigner that were being sent my way.
So, not only did I throw money out the window, waste an inordinate amount of time, and pop a vein in my forehead, but I also succeeded in propagating the widely held view that foreigners are childish children, not to be trusted with simple procedures like filling out a form, or correctly identifying their child's nationality. Clearly, a winning moment for me.
*actually not kind at all. Not at all.