Once every few years, I have a routine. A sacred one, where I gather these documents noted below in one bundle.
For the benefit of those who do not read Malay:
- Birth Certificate (Copy & Original)
- Identity Card (Copy & Original)
- 4 portraits measuring 5.2cm x 4 cm
- Passport (With a copy of the last page where the horrible photo and whatnots are placed)
Then, with these documents safely encased in a plastic sheet, I’d wait my turn to get called, in a box roughly the size of a typical Bruneian living room, watching P. Ramlee movies on a flat screen TV.
But before I sit comfortably on the chairs and laugh at the next P.Ramlee joke with strangers I’ve never met before in my life, I’d first have to get a number from the, well, for the lack of a technical term, the Number Spitting Machine According To Category. Then proceed to fill in only one single form.
Of course, waiting is not called “waiting” if you don’t do so for a long time. If waiting only takes a minute, then it would be called, a pause, or maybe a halt. No, no. Once every few years in my sacred routine, I must wait for at least two hours.
Therefore, I usually clear the whole day of any high tea dates, or any ‘promises to meet at 4pm’, or any of the frivolousness in my life because on this day, it is reserved specifically, for the lengthy process of waiting.
While waiting, and being noticeably idle, I have 13 primary ways to keep busy, namely:
- I stare at people
- Watch the P.Ramlee movie until my neck hurts (I was sitting in the front row)
- Stare at people some more
- Check repeatedly that I have all the necessary documents
- Stare at walls
- Notice every little detail (especially at Counter Number 3) of the room’s structure.
- Giggle everytime a baby takes a photo.
- Stare at people even more
- Oh take pictures (obviously)
- Get annoyed everytime people forget to photocopy the required documents (an occurence that happens every 3 persons) and forces the counter to close while waiting for the person to go upstairs and photocopy the aforementioned documents.
- Get annoyed everytime someone who “misses” his/her number in the morning comes back and cuts the queue in the afternoon line, making other people’s turn drag on longer.
- Stare at annoying people.
- Annoy people by staring.
Can you figure out what I’m doing yet? YES I’m renewing my passport! It expired last month and in the event where I need to elope to Miri, I obviously need one.
Here are some simple but important tips for all that wants to renew their passports:
– Have all the required documents and their photocopies ready. If you miss out one, you will force the counter to shut down while you retrieve the missing document. Believe me when I say, that will make a lot of people resentful of you.
– This is a very important venue for a lot of people. Practically everyone in Brunei Muara District comes here to make/renew their travel documents. Old people, young people, teenagers, babies, rich, poor, black, white, yellow, fuchscia, orange, indigo, everyone. Therefore, please don’t expect a short waiting time. You’ll have to wait a long time, despite the staff there trying their best. So if you’re easily aggravated by long periods of idling, come early and bring something to keep yourself occupied, like a magazine or a good book, a PSP, a boyfriend/girlfriend/bestfriend or a portable DVD player.
– If you’re making a passport for one of your babies, please bring some toys to grab his/her attention while the photo is being taken.
– A passport is one of those things in Brunei that is not free. For a biometric passport, please bring an exact amount of BND$60.
Unlike the old passports where photos are to be taken in photo studios, biometric passports requires none because photos are taken on site itself. Above is the camera that took my picture. With no flash. Haha.
Then there’s a machine that takes our fingerprints. For those riddled with paranoia, a.k.a. me, get your hand sanitisers ready. Who knows where other people’s hands have been.
If you’ve noticed that the above has no prints of my thumbs, then you have too much time on your hands. Pun intended. Anyway, this is stored forever, somewhere. Incidentally, can someone explain what is this fingerprint archive going to be used for?
When all is done, you’ll be given a receipt, and a guarantee of a finished passport in three days. Heh. Great staff in the Passport department. Friendly, helpful. Will update on how my passport collection comes along.
Until then, have a nice day!