My experience at the visa center was awful. I mean, I expected bureaucracy because that comes with the territory, but this was some kind of power tripping nonsense I can't even.
For those who don't know, China has a pseudo-independent organization to handle visa applications. The embassy or consulate is the actual party that grants your visa, but this other organization accepts and checks your papers prior to submission.
In Germany they sent me back home after my first appointment to collect more paperwork (flight tickets etc). That's why I have spent the last couple months being so meticulous about getting all my papers in order. Of course, that still wasn't enough.
I walked in and waited in line, where they immediately sent me away to photocopy my passport. Why do they need a photocopy when they are already taking the hard copy? Who knows. Why did they need a copy in the first place when it's not listed on the website as a requirement? Who knows. Almost everyone at the Staples downstairs was photocopying their passport for the China visa center. Like. Come the fuck on.
Then i got in and handed over my papers and the first thing he said is that my passport has water damage. This is from a rainstorm several months ago, and I have entered and exited China numerous times since then. But he said that my passport was damaged and that even if my visa was granted I may not be allowed into China. Then he made me sign a declaration saying I acknowledged my passport was damaged and that this application was therefore strongly advised against.
Then he got on my case about putting Hong Kong and Taiwan on my visa application. Which, of course I considered very carefully because I know this is a very sensitive issue in China. But the form specifically states to list all of the "countries or territories" you have visited. I presume they listed "or territories" deliberately for the case of Hong Kong and Taiwan, since both of those places do passport checks and have completely different visa requirements to the mainland. Still, I know better than to argue, so I told him I understood the situation and apologized. But he didn't stop.
His next thing was to take a separate slip of paper and write down "Ontario, Québec, Canada" and ask me if that made sense to me. Like. Fuck off dude! I have no horse in this race. I don't care. I really don't give a shit. In fact, this is literally the first person I have met who has ranted about it outside of Taiwan, mainly because most mainland Chinese don't give a shit either. They consider Taiwan a runaway child and they do believe it's part of China but it's so far down their list of priorities to complain about. In fact this is one of the reasons I specifically chose the mainland over Taiwan to settle in, because I found the endless pontificating about the situation exhausting.
Anyway, so I had to fill in half the form all over again, and sign yet another waiver that I acknowledged my documentation was incorrect and indicating that I would still pay the visa center fees if the consulate refuses my visa. Like, come on guys! What a wank.
While I was changing my form, the bureaucrat even lost it at one of his Chinese brothers coming back into the fold. Like. This fucking guy was obviously of Chinese descent. He spoke perfect Mandarin. But the bureaucrat got on his case about listing his country of birth as Hong Kong saying that there is no such country. Now, I am a poor judge of age, but I am quite sure this guy was born prior to 1997. When the applicant tried to explain himself - with the exact same argument I had used (that the form explicitly lists "country or territory") - the bureaucrat even had the nerve to bring up the Tang dynasty. The Tang dynasty for fuck's sake!
Like, take a fucking breath dude. If this is the kind of asshat representing China in North America it's no wonder so many people here think the whole country is a miserable fascist state full of brainwashed drones. Thank Christ I know better. I know that most Chinese are very easy going and just as open-minded (or not) as people anywhere else in the world and they certainly don't feel the need to spend 10 minutes evangelizing to foreigners about two piddling little regions whose combined total population is barely the size of a single tier 1 city in the mainland.
After that I was done. I was shaking I was so stressed. I messaged D, an old friend from back when I lived here, and told him I needed a beer. I haven't seen him in 5 years, but we were right back in it. He was close friends with N, a reasonably close friend of mine too, who ODed a while back. And L, who committed suicide just a month or two back. Toronto, city of dead friends.
His sister also passed away recently, and he was the sibling who had to deal with it all for his mom and the rest of the family. It reminded me that J's father also died recentlyish. Speaking of ex-wife J, she has also been trying to catch up with me today, but after the visa center situation I have all clammed up. I don't have the emotional space for any more awkwardness.
It was good to talk to D. He is doing alright, had a pretty stable job for a while and still getting out and about to party on the reg. I enjoyed chatting with him so much we kinda made a date to go see Heather on Friday. I had been idly thinking about it anyway since she was the first DJ I saw in Toronto and yanno, symmetry. Also she is an awesome DJ and the promoter booking her here is my age and known for getting the (now) 35+ crowd, so I won't feel like a creeper and may bump into some other familiar faces.
Maybe I planned that prematurely because I was upset. I know I probably should come back to Toronto to pick up my visa on Tuesday just in case they didn't grant it and I need to reapply. But I owe R a long stay at her place in Windsor and if I only get down there on Saturday I should definitely stay through Wednesday.
And yanno, if my visa gets refused for having a water damaged passport or a "blurry photo" (seriously) or a now-scratched-out reference to Taiwan I fucking give up.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Canadian me. I felt at home enough in this country to submit to citizenship, but it's also the country where I have lost more friends than any other to suicide and overdose, the country I got married and divorced, the country I was a balls out hard drug addict, the country I spent a couple months as a psychiatric inpatient etc etc. I love it but it's crazy making. I forgot that.
So, what to do after lunch with a wicked jetlag and incredible anxiety about my future thanks to a true believer of a bureaucrat? Get fucking drunk. Get very drunk. I might thumb my nose at aspirational veganism and grab my fave bison, blue cheese and peameal bacon burger from my local. Fuck everything.