Tuesday, 7 February 2017

NO, I'm NOT whining. I'm just thinking out loud. (or The Dark Ages 2.0: The long way home)

February 4, 2017, North Point, Hong Kong.  I'm not supposed to be here. 
I'm supposed to be sleeping soundly in a North Vancouver motel right now.   

What happened?


I had thought about this eventuality back in June of last year.   When returning with Rocinante (the electric bike) from Paris to Vancouver.  

My Permanent Resident Card (affectionately known by German permanent residents of Canada as the Negerpass) had expired.   I had considered renewing it before this trip but quickly found out that there simply never was enough time.  CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) advertised on its website that processing times for renewal of a PR Card were more than 60 BUSINESS days, read LONGER than 2 MONTHS.  

I had studied their website further and learned that to return to Canada with a VALID German passport and an EXPIRED PR Card, I would have to apply for a VISA at the Canadian Embassy in PARIS to be able to return to Vancouver.   Well. They let me on the plane without a visa.  And I returned from Paris again in September 2016. Without a valid PR card. And again from the US in October 2016. And from Indochina in November 2016.   So that visa thing didn't seem to be enforced THAT stringently.

But I applied for a new PR card anyway.  In December 2016.   Of course, CIC is still sluggish, but I was not going to let the fact that they didn't manage to issue me a new PR Card in 30 days prevent me from flying to Cambodia.  When I check online on Feb. 3, the application is still being 'processed'.  For Fuck's sake, people, stop sitting there with your fat arse on your hands and do some work instead, eh?

So much for the background, now here is what happened in the last 2 days, starting at Phnom Penh International Airport:

The guy at the check-in desk actually goes to the length of telephoning the Canadian Embassy in Phnom Penh. They DO that these days, LOL. Just for an expired PR Card! He gives me a boarding pass for Hong Kong and tells me that I'll have to get the boarding pass for the 2nd flight there.  

This is when I know that I'm in trouble.  Because he didn't resolve anything.  Canadian rigor couldn't have prevented me from flying to Hong Kong in the first place.  So the phone call to the embassy didn't actually resolve ANYTHING, except get the problem out of the in-box of the Canadian embassy in Phnom Penh. Let the guys in Hong Kong deal with it.

Unfortunately that thought does not dawn on me until AFTER checking in my large backpack right through to Vancouver    But hey, at this time I don't really think they're being serious THIS time. 

When we arrive in Hong Kong, I already have made contingency plans.  Have Zu bring some food to Grandma.  Plan to where to stay in Hong Kong.  Plan to cancel my appointment at the GERMAN Consulate on Monday.  

And it turns out that my gut was right again.  They're NOT giving me a boarding pass, simply because my Permanent Resident Card is expired.

The funniest thing is the woman behind the counter.  She says with a tongue-in-cheek look "Oh, come on! You KNOW what Canada is like !"  to which I just sigh and reply with a big grin "I know exactly what Canada is like. That's why I'm happy to stay in Hong Kong".

Zu is still trying to come to terms with  what is happening but it's time to say good bye, because she is flying to Vancouver and I am NOT.  She is going through transit security and I'm going through immigration to enter Hong Kong.  At least Hong Kong will let me in even if Canada will not, LOL. 

So I'm marooned in Hong Kong.  No, actually, I am NOT.  There are OOODLES of countries I can travel to.  Vietnam, Cambodia, all of Europe, God knows where else. I can even travel to the US without any problems.  Just NOT to the country where I actually live.  
Countries I can travel to (OK, so CANADA just fell off the map)
It still does NOT really COMPUTE !  

Could be worse:  While public transit in Vancouver grinds to a halt because of snow, I finally get to hike the Dragon's Back on Hong Kong Island ;-)

Feb. 5: Now here is the funniest thing.  Remember Trump's travel ban for travelers from 7 Muslim countries?  A Seattle judge just overturned it and airlines are allowing those passengers to board planes again.   NO, I'm still NOT allowed though ;-)

Finding myself smoking OUTSIDE Hong Kong Airport instead of INSIDE the transit zone leaves me amused

Citizenship and Immigration of Canada  truly makes the Trump gang of idiots look like a brotherhood of logical Vulcans !

NOW, don't get me wrong, I assume that someone actually put a lot of thought into this. (personally, however, I think, their time would have been better spent by picking their nose or licking their superior's posterior)   

But if I was even just hopeful that all this bullshit would make a single mosque in Canada just a tiny bit safer from the attack of a deranged Canadian bigots and xenophobics, I wouldn't even have written this post.

But let's be realistic. That's not very likely is it, eh?

Because those 'DECENT' WHITE MIDDLE-CLASS TERRORISTS already live INSIDE Canada.

And yes, it is kind of sad to lose a second homeland.

A personal update:  I just came from the Visa Application Centre (after a sign at the Canadian Consulate finally informed me that the Consulate does NOT issue visas).

Processing time for an application for a Travel Document for stranded Landed Immigrants is FOUR WEEKS.   

They even want me to submit phone bills and the like to substantiated that I have been present long enough in Canada to not lose my PR status.

Does ANYONE have a brain pulse at CIC?  They only have to look at the stamps in my passport to see that I was present long enough.  And HOW THE FUCK am I supposed to get a hold of my phone bills (yes, they're still on paper)?

I just got approval for my ESTA application for the US of A.   

Took all of TWO HOURS.  
See what I mean, eh?

Flying to Seattle tomorrow to face the Canadian Border Fence on the land route


The check-in clerk for Delta doesn't trust me German passport (but the CONDITION !), so he checks with his supervisor whether he should allow me on the plane.  The supervisor apparently has not been infected with world-wide paranoia, because I am promptly handed a boarding pass !

The flight is actually one of the nicest flights I've been on.  I like Delta.  No nonsense. No announcements to NOT mingle in groups in front of the washrooms. None of that waking you just to check that your seat belt is on.  They even have very edible food !

Another HUGE surprise when I go through US immigration in Seattle.  I get to place my passport into the scanning receptacle of a MACHINE !   No one asks me where exactly I have been or whether I have a girl friend in Cambodia. What a relief !  

The human being checking my machine print-out only asks me whether I'm bringing food into the US, not why I have been to Cambodia 4 times in the last year.  

The machine & human take all of 4 minutes and I'm in the US of A.  Hard to believe after all the stuff the country I actually live in has subjected me.

Now what is that WHITE STUFF on the ground?

February 16

I've been back in Vancouver for a whole week.  I just checked the processing status of my PR card application, which was received by CIC on December 12.  In their own words, they started 'processing' the application on January 5.  So they have been 'processing' a 3 page application for over a month now.  WHAT exactly are they doing over there?
The only highlight and tiny sign of progress in my epic struggle with bureaucracy is the arrival of a declaration that I am not a Canadian citizen.  And this only took them TWO months, coincidentally the same amount of time it took in the days before all the records were computerized, LOL. The computer really is a blessing to humankind.  It lets them sit on their hands more often.

February 22.

I checked my PR card application status again today. Still processing. But apparently they sent me mail yesterday.  Not sure what they want, but I will find out soon.  Maybe they found out that the sidewalk in front of Grandma's house was not shoveled during my absence ?

February 24

The mail supposedly mailed by CIC still hasn't arrived.  To some it might be delightful to see with which efficiency life in Canada unfolds.  Personally, I find life is too short to waste it waiting for the glacial execution of various tasks by various government institutions.  Canada Post is always whining that very few people send letters anymore.  Well, given that by their own admission, the delivery standard time for a letter from Vancouver to Sidney mailed on a Monday is the next Monday, it is a surprise that there is anyone left.  Hello There!  Don't you think it's time to get your head out of your arse?

February 27.

I received the letter from the processing centre.  It only took one week ! Go Canada Go !  Seems I had accidentally mis-dated my application (the date above my signature was wrong).  I am to re-submit the corrected application.  It only took them 75 days to notice this and to inform me.  I am delighted at the level of service I am receiving from the well-paid public servants of this country.

March 10.
The required information went back to Nova Scotia by courier on February 28.
PR card application is still processing. Sigh.

to be continued .....

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