In the last 7-10 days, I think I must have lost considerable weight and hair, not to mention my temper. The hours of standing in the hot sun have considereably dimished my natural (non-existent) glow.
Hubby, and, I decided to visit Turkey (they've been tempting me with visit Turkey in my Inbox ever since I googled some Turkey tourism websites) in the summer break before we headed home (there is something very similar about homing pigeons and expats in the Cairo summer - they all head back home!!!).
So I marched into Thomas Cook's Mohandisiene office (the Maadi one is a disaster, don't ever venture there - they appear to take time off by rotation, except that the rotation seems to be every alternate day - maybe some new cost saving measures adopted by Thomas Cook), booked ourselves tickets to Istanbul and a Hotel, and, then handed the passports to the lady for the visa.
That's when she dropped the bombshell - travel agents don't do visas for foreigners, no matter that they are residents (after what I have been through, I am not surprised, even I wo'nt do visas for myself in Cairo!!)
Ok, what's the big deal, I'll do it myself... Little did I know that it was a big deal...
Lesson 1: No travel agency does overseas visas for foreigners. They all know how nightmarish it can be!!
Lesson 2: No expat does overseas visas in Cairo. They go home for summer and get it done there. At least they know how to deal with the blokes back home. (I'm kidding, ok?)
After 5 days of trying to get the elusive Mr Rami (who seem to carry the burden of the consulate on his shoulders and was unable to spare 2 mins to tell a harried soul what was needed to get a visa), I barged into the consulate one afternoon. I think just to get me off their back, they responded to me, even though it was after consulate hours.
After trekking to Downtown at 6.30 a.m. in the morning (yes, you need to submit docs at an unearthly 7 a.m - what is about consulates and early morning obsession), imagine my shock, when they shook their head and returned my papers. Why? They needed a certificate from my son's school certifying that he is a bonafide student registered with them!!
That really stumped me - now how did they know my son could be a terror? Even if he was an adorable terror, asking for a character certificate was a bit too much.
The next day, I went again, only to be told that since we have not been resident in Cairo for 6 months, we cannot get the visa. What bladderash! He didn't figure this out the last time he went through the papers?
Lesson 3: Expect to do multiple trips to get a visa issued. If you manage in one, either the country is not visited often enough, and, they are desperate or the guy is just nice or he likes you.
Finally, one very kind soul, took pity on my hapless state, went through my papers, and promised to get my visa done if I could submit all the docs that he had asked for by tomorrow morning, which I am going to do. Mr Shaheen, you're a good man!!
Inshaaallah, visa bukra, otherwise maalish!