Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bureaucracy at it's Naked Best

In order to stay in Bali, for my 2nd visa extension I had to go to Immigration and get fingerprinted & photographed. The agent I hired called me and told me to go to the capital city of Denpasar, then asked if I knew where the office was.
"Not at all".
"No problem". She assured me. "Just come to our office and our driver will escort you".

We snaked through endless Indo traffic, one way streets, and back access roads until we were at the main office where Tiru handed me off to his associate and vanished into the blur of the other scooters. For 90 minutes Ketut assured me that it would only be another 5 minutes and that I was next. When the room was finally empty I shrugged my shoulders and asked when it was my turn as the room was now vacant except for me.

"Soon, lunch now."
"Lunch now! Oh come on Ketut. I've been good. Please squeeze me in. I can't wait another hour."
"Ok. Ok. You come now.

We walked 10 steps and once we past through the swinging door that denoted the inner office he immediately made a face as if he'd licked a 9 volt battery.

"Oh so sorry, no can come in here with short pants."
"What? You've known that I was wearing short pants for the last hour and a half. No deal. Let's finish this."

Then he didn't speak English anymore. He Bahasa squawked to his colleagues and they all shrugged and looked away. I got Bali Mode on the phone, that's the initial office I hired to deal with this. We went back and forth and the only solution seemed to be rescheduling, which didn't please me at all. Finally the lady on the phone offered a new suggestion which didn't make any sense to me. I couldn't understand what she was saying, something about "alternating". I handed the phone back to Ketut. He spoke to her, stared at me, looked around and then back at me. Total silence. Then he scanned the room again and his eyes settled on this Indo kid who looked like he'd been thrown out of the Asian version of Green Day. They spoke their language and the kid grew a huge smile. Ketut hung up the phone and then turned his whole attention to me. The kid stood up and walked over to us. Ketut spoke 2 words and made the international zigzag hand single.

"Switch switch."
"You're freakin kidding me. You want us to change clothes. Unbelievable. Fine. Let's get this over with."

He ushered us to the bathroom (kamar kecil - literally, "small room"). The kid turned his back to me. He had that center ridge hair-do that's suppose to look punk rock, but only serves to impersonate a dinosaur. He removed his pegged black pants and when he turned back to hand them to me he saw me standing nude (no underwear). His eyes fixated on my white circumcised penis (I'll bet he never saw that before!) and you should have seen the mortified look on his face when he realized I was going to wriggle into his favorite pants butt naked. I handed him my shorts, apologized for my immodesty and stabbed my skinny legs through his impossibly tight trousers. I'm a shrimp of a man in the First World but here I'm a giant. I left him with a big toothy grin and walked out. The fingerprinting and photo took about 2 minutes. The photo was a head shot, so no one will ever see my sexy leggings but now you know. I returned to the bathroom where he was waiting with that violated look on his face. I disrobed, handed him his pants back, apologized again, and walked the long corridor back to the parking lot. I looked back when I was at the door, and he still hadn't exited the bathroom. Bush might be gone but I'm still winning them over with "Shock and Awe".

More on the rest of Bali soon.

Your man on point,

Capt Bobby

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