Wednesday, March 30, 2005

O, Passport Where Art Thou?

Yesterday, I went to the Canadian Embassy at the prescribed time to collect passports for Aysha and myself. Since I had been promised, "If there's a problem, we'll call you" and hadn't received a call, I went with false hope. After a few minutes of waiting, I was sent to speak with the consul. To meet with the consul, you get you own little room, a privacy closet really. It's got a sliding glass door behind you to protect your privacy, and a bullet proof glass wall in front of you to protect the consul.

The consul told me that since the record of birth didn't have Aysha's name on it, they couldn't issue a passport. We could, in theory, use it to register another baby with a different name at some other time. He was very professional and in the twenty minutes or so that we talked, we discussed several possible strategies that might get Aysha a passport. On his end, he would take it up with Citizenship in Ottawa and see if there were any exceptions that could be made. On my end, I would try to get the record of birth re-issued with a name on it. He also suggested going down to try to have the marriage certificate certified by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs
again. He, quite accurately, suggested that the ministry tends to treat us westerners more kindly than it did the driver from one of the working classes that made the last attempt.

In the discussion, I told him that my passport wasn't a pressing matter since it didn't expire for more than a year and I only needed it to have the two-year Colombian visa put into. It turns out that they will not issue a new passport until your old passport has either expired or is within 6 months of expiring. So my own passport application was not valid.

With all that good news, I returned home to Karla.

The next day, Karla and I were up early. We were on a mission. We arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs just after it opened and Karla went in by herself. A single western woman is such an irregularity at any office that she was thrust to the head of the line. She emerged 10 minutes later, not with the stamped form, but
with information. It turns out that the Canadian Embassy had been wrongly advising us all along. We didn't a stamped copy of the marriage certificate on embassy letterhead, we needed a letter from the embassy on letter head saying that we were married.

The embassy produced it the same day, along with my own new passport (because they felt sorry for us - I think they invalidated my old passport before they noticed and had no choice) We were back at the Ministry by 12:15. This time, Karla got the elusive stamp recognizing our marriage and we headed directly for the Ministry of Health. We arrived only minutes before it closed. Karla headed in to get the job
done. I was a little surprised they let her in. On Wednesday afternoon, I was expecting her to be turned away so that everyone could finish work on time. A few minutes later she came out. It seems that women can't register babies' births. I guess once the women have gone and had the babies, it's the least the father can do
to register the birth. Actually, Kuwaiti customs is that the new mother doesn't leave her mother's house for 40 days after the birth.

Once I arrived, we were in business. The paper work was correct. All was progressing well until I had to go speak with the supervisor. The Ministry of Health did not approve of our choice of name. Specifically, we could not combine an Arabic name with a western one. Since Aysha was a wife of the prophet Mohammed, it would somehow be sacrilegious to combine it with a non-Arabic name. So on the spot, in
under a minute we had to decide - two western names, two Arabic names, or fight. So Aysha Morgan is now being registered as Aysha Farah (FAR-uh) Hide. On the way home, we thought of a couple names that we would have liked more, but it doesn't really matter. We will change it to Aysha Morgan once we get to Canada (or perhaps in conjunction with her first passport renewal in three years).

We did win a concession from the supervisor. The nearly four week waiting period for a birth certificate has been cut down to one week. So Aysha should now have a passport no later than three weeks from now (Inshallah).

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