Oh joy! Just what mummy needs after a morning in the immigration office. A shopping mall meltdown!
4 sweaty hours ago….
I miss MY car. We “have” a car but its not ours, its our drivers. As luxurious as it sounds, its pretty standard practice out here especially for foreigners. Hubs is Indonesian (but not local balinese) and even he doesn’t like driving here because if you have a little bump, you might as well just bend over because they are gonna extort the crap out of ya! So having a driver is cheaper and less stressful (you don’t go anywhere fast around here). Of course, there’s always a moped but despite the Indonesian norm of bikes being used as people carriers for a family of 5, its not for me…yet. Buying our own car is on the to do list but in the meantime we’re using his because a driver without a car is about as useful as a chocolate fire guard. Talk about putting the horse before the cart! He occasionally takes taxi fares to/from the airport when he’s not chauffeuring me and my often screaming children about, which means that leaving the car seats in the car isn’t an option most days. You think its a pain in the ass trying to pin down and belt in a wriggly toddler (I find astronaut style with a foot on the chest is a good MO), try doing that shit almost blind with sweat stinging your eyes after wrangling the damn seat into the car in the first place. Only to have to go through the whole episode again on the other side with the baby seat. Oh and isofix isn’t a thing here. At least not in our sexy Kijang. Thankfully air con is.
Our not so long but definitely suffering drivers name is Saipul. He’s a sweet, helpful kid with a, shall we say, eclectic taste in music. The days soundtrack can range from Celine Dion to Pearl Jam to the Twilight: Breaking Dawn theme song (I actually walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of the latter so I let that one slide. People in glass houses and all that!) I think he took driving lessons from the Knight Bus driver in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. “Take her away, Erm!” He’s crazy but in a country who’s highway code could be summed up in a single sentence – the rules are there are no rules – he fits right in. The first trip was scary but each one thereafter has been an adventure, a bit like mushrooms. I’m sure he must regail his driver friend group with tales of our family. ‘The husband is cool but the wife makes no sense and one or both of the kids is always screaming. Bule ada geblek nya.”
So the AC has caused my sweat to dry and I’m now pleasantly cold when we arrive at the kantor immigrasi (Immigration Office). But not for long! There’s piss poor air conditioning in the office and the open door policy is not helping the temperature. We follow the foreigners sign to the second floor and take a number. We’re finally seen and given a stack of paperwork to fill out. By now, Eia is asleep in the baby carrier and Arlo is about to be treated to a Postman Pat marathon on You Tube to give me the smallest hope in hell of actually being able to concentrate long enough without any distractions to correctly fill in all the paperwork. Side bar – does anyone else choose episodes of their kids fave cartoons based on their length? I don’t give a tiny rats ass if its Tom Hardy reading the Bedtime Story, if its not more than 23 minutes long, it just ain’t gonna cut it. Soz Tom. So, I get through the mountain of paperwork in record time. I filled in 3 lots (me, Arlo and Eia) in less time than it took granny to complete her one lot. Now its time to get photocopies of our important documents. We’re told we can do this downstairs. It turns out that downstairs is actually a right turn out of the office, across the road and into the warung (eating house) where the brother of the owner will print/photocopy your documents if you email or whatsapp them to him. Brilliant! We head back upstairs with two now grumpy children to discover that all the desks are closed. Midday – everyone is on lunch for the hour. So back to the warung we go. Might as well eat while we wait! Soon enough its 1pm and we’re back upstairs with another number. Twenty minutes, another Postman Pat video and dirty nappy change later – done on my knees much to the horror of the young Aussie backpacker beside me, calm down love its only breastmilk poop – we are called up to the desk to be told to come back in two days for ‘photo and interview’. So fast forward two days, we’re back in the massive queue but this time the Yorkshire post man isn’t cutting it with Arlo and Eia wants feeding. However it turns out two loudly unsettled children gets you to the front of the queue so its not all bad. Our individual applications require passport style photos – no smiling, no phones and no mums! That’s a problem since at this point Arlo has his arms wrapped around my neck and I’m having no success in untangling him in the slippery mix of sweat and tears. The officer doesn’t get paid enough for this shit so he carries on regardless, positioning himself behind the camera, shaking a little bell above the lens, saying ‘hello boy’ in an effort to get Arlo to look in his direction as I try to duck out of the photo and peel him off me with one hand while trying not to drop the passports and my phone in the other, which is displaying yet another ineffective episode of Postman friggin Pat. None of this works of course and the end product is a picture of the side of my face, neck and shoulder and a very red faced screaming Arlo. Despite all of this, we pass. Deportation dodged!
Did I mention my MiL is spending two glorious months with us here in Bali. After witnessing yet another ear splitting performance from the little prince, I reckon she’s seriously considering changing her return flight to an earlier date. I’d say that’s fair play after having to endure such a long time in close quarters with the screaming maniacs I have spawned with her beloved son! On that note, hubs is 40 next year and at this rate, I’ll be gifting him a vasectomy. And he should be quietly f**king grateful that I don’t perform it myself with a pair of blunt scissors after the day I’ve had with his precious children. God give me strength. And wine.