Monday, August 25, 2008

Crazy muddle-headed week

It's not been a good week for me. I came down with something on Tuesday or Wednesday I can't remember now. Had fever, bad sore throat, all over achy feeling. I have not been sick for at least half a year, quite a run.

Anyway, I felt really lousy. I'd go to sleep at 7pm, telling the boys to get themselves cleaned and ready for bed themselves. They were sweet, coming down to lie beside me, and telling me I'm so warm, asking me how I was etc. Brian even came up with some internet remedy for 'summer cold' (yeah, he diagnosed me with that!), saying I should have green tea with honey and dunno what else.

Well, by Friday morning, I was still having a splitting headache but I had something important to do. Interview some part-time housekeepers I've arranged to meet at a shopping centre near my place. This was around lunch-time. Sean had McDonald's and I remember buying an ice-cream cone for him...there is a point to this rambling. Okay, so I found the right candidate, showed her my place and that was it. Was pretty pleased with myself but still went to bed at 8pm feeling physically ill.

Saturday morning. Woke up and prepared my fried bee hoon which was my contribution for the evening's potluck session at fairlynew-comers Allan and Michelle's place. Watched a dvd, generally felt better, just in time for a good night out.

We headed out at 5pm, and that's when I realised a horrifying detail, my passport and the pouch it was in were missing, they weren't in my bag. Drove back home. I searched the usual places and then it struck me that I may have left the pouch on the ice-cream counter while fumbling with my purse during payment. Omigod! My heart sank, I'm sure my face was drained of any colour.

Went back to the car and first thing I told Eddie was, "Don't scold me, don't scold me, don't scold me"...cos I already felt bad as it is. Unlike in the past, he was pretty cool this time. My head was just so messed up. I kept tracking my steps back trying to figure out where my passport could be. It's an important document, and even more so in Moscow, where we are expected to carry them with us anytime we are out.

I told myself there was no sense worrying too much. Prayed hard, that's all I could do. Of course I moaned and kicked myself so hard, I just hate this muddle-headed side of me (I've locked myself out of the house many times before). Still, I managed to have a great evening.

Got home, did another search and knew the passport was lost. A Malaysian chap lost his passport in Moscow recently and it took him 3-4 months to get his replacement passport, I was told that evening. 3-4 months! Thinking of making police report in Moscow, and all the other redtape involving Malaysian embassy, Russian embassy for new visa etc, I just felt like shit lah.

That night, I slept and dreamed numerous times about going to the shopping centre and finding my passport at the ice-cream stand. And then kept waking up and realising shikes that was just a dream, your passport's still lost!

Still I kept faith, went for a walk in the morning. And at 1030 am, we headed for the shopping centre, armed with a note written by a Russian friend which said, "I lost my passport and pouch, is it here and where is the lost and found"...something like that.

Heart was beating so fast as we went up the lift. Went to the ice-cream vendor, a girl, and showed her the note. She shook her head. My heart sank yet again.

We found our way to the information counter, showed the note to the security people around there. They got on their walkie-talkie, and then a chap walked in and looked at us and said, "Malayyyy-zieee? Malayyyy-zieee?". I didn't get it at first, but Eddie understood him and said yes. Omigosh, they had my passport. My hands were so cold and heart was still pounding.

Waited another 5 minutes, then another burly guy came out, asked for my name, and passed me my passport; I've never been soooo happy to see a red-coloured little book in all my life! I would have kissed the floor if anyone asked me to. The pouch, passport pouch and whatever petty cash I had in the pouch were gone, but I got my precious passport back.

I flashed them a huge smile, said tonnes of Spaseebas, and we headed back, super-relieved and me going Thank You God dozens of times for coming through for me and saving my behind.

And that's the crazy week I've had folks! Hope yours have been better.


Baoying said...

I'm so glad there's a happy end to this story. My heart went cold for you while reading about it. I was mugged in Australia years ago and they took a bag with my passport in it. It took 2 years to replace it and it was the worst years of my life! I hate going anywhere with my passport now and I certainly do not carry it with me. Vig keeps telling me that I should but I rather spend time in custody than have another passport stolen/lost!

Lilian said...

2 years!! Actually, the Msian guy who lost his passport in Moscow has been waiting 3-4 months and hasn't received his replacement passport, who knows how long more it'll take. You knowlah, Malaysia Boleh...

I hate carrying my passport with me too and I never carried it till I came to Moscow. No one, not my mum, not Eddie, not me, would trust me with such an important document. This definitely ups the stress factor of living here in Moscow, for me. Must be what's causing the mushrooming of grey hair on my head.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Oh Lilian, I feel so relieved for you...

You haven't heard of the story of my husband's lost passport right? He's got his replaced, or rather I took his second passport (same passport number) and got his company to courier it to him then. His assistant made a police report which later ended up in the Interpol in Europe. When we landed in Prague last December, he was denied entry and the Czech police wanted to retain his passport (thinking that they found the lost passport) and deport him back to Germany (without any papers!). I left him Kristin (with passport) while I went to retrieve our baggage with Bryan. In the end, the whole family had to spend a night at the airport - thank God for a hotel there coz not all airports have one in the waiting area. The whole night long we were on the phones with people from MFA and the Honorary Consul in the Czech Repulic...

For once, we felt like refugees and the only crime we committed was Alan losing his passport - stupid system of same passport number for both official and personal passports.
Anywayz, his passport is now replaced with a new number. And we got extra fast service, thanks to our friends in Singapore Embassy in Berlin. Just a week. Bao - maybe it's time you consider Sg citizenship! :)

I think we can all write long posts on passport stories!!!

Lilian said...

Wow PP, what a story. And such a horrendous experience. You mean Alan has 2 passports? Got such thing meh?

Talking about Sg immigration's efficiency, have I said this before?...But every time I renew my PR at the Immigration in Lavender, I'm always floored by their friendliness and efficiency (stark contrast to my experience renewing passports in Malaysia). I would thank the officer and let her how fantastic the service was; I remember one of them telling me, well, at least you appreciate it, Singaporeans don't even bother to say thanks.

Roslyn said...

When I read about you not feeling well, I was going to drop a note wishing you feeling better soon until I came to the part on the passport. Certainly know what's it like misplacing something, especially when in your case, it's a passport. So glad you found it in the end.

Tsu Lin + + said...

What a story!!! Luckily there was a happy ending.

I shudder to read about all your passport stories (all you readers commented here). :(

Alcovelet said...

Hey Lilian, glad you're back safely, and your passport too! Man, it'd drive me crazy to have to carry my passport with me at all times.

I once left it at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei and found out mid way on the highway. Luckily, the driver was one of those reckless ones - he zipped me back and forth and I got on my flight with some minutes to spare. Whew!

Vivian said...

Hi Lilian,
Really glad that you found your passport! I wasn't so lucky though. Lost mine in France. :(

Hi Cindy,
Did Alan get a replacement with the same passport number? That's funny cos my replacement has got a totally different number.

Lilian said...

Didn't know there would be so many other loss of passport horror stories!

But Vivian, you're Singaporean, and while losing a passport is always a harrowing experience, losing a Malaysian passport is I dunno how many times worse, the buggers there just make it so hard to get a replacement (at least that's what I've heard, case in point Bao's experience, 2 years!), so the nightmare and ensuing suffering can be a long-drawn one.

Add to that other complications like Russian visa requirements, my heart just went cold. I still shudder when I think about what could have been. Thank God x infinity!

petite fleur said...

Glad everything worked out fine. Losing passport in a foreign country - worst nightmare.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hi Viv,
A had two passports with same no., official and personal but what the Czech police and the Interpol missed out was the different dates of issue, thus two different passports. Yep, you're right, replacements now have a totally different no. Coz we weren't the only ones who got into trouble with lost passports in Europe and apparently the problem had been rectified by ICA.

Yep Lil',
I know about M'sian passports too...
My uncle's family in NYC got robbed, house got broken into. Passports + everything/anything valuable was stolen... it's been ten years and my uncle is now a US citizen - he didn't need to care about his M'sian passport anymore, while some of his children have yet to get their M'sian passport replaced.... who knows, they might get their green cards sooner!

And the thing about visa... A still carries his other passport ( the one that got us into trouble) when he travels because of the visa.

Yep.. guard that little red book with your life!

Li Min said...

Phew, you are REALLY lucky! In my heart I was thinking die lah, like that. If you don't find your passport, you are going to be stuck in Moscow forever!

My friend's Msian passport was stolen in Prague. Not only did he kena scolded by the Malaysian embassy in Prague they refused to help him. In the end the British and Singapore embassies helped him to return to London. To get a new passport quick he got his mom to pull some strings in KL to settle the problem, not before he had to write an apology letter in Malay for having his passport stolen.

Dh is still adamant on holding onto his Malaysian passport which I understand but he always complains come visa applications and passport renewal time. :)

Lilian said...

Yalah Li Min, the Malaysian immigration department is the bane of our existence. Passport renewal time is always such a pain. Like other Malaysian students, your husband would have experienced queueing up really early in the morning at the old Malaysian Embassy in Jervois Road, sometimes to be turned back and told to come another day for reasons such as inadequate photocopies (rules are never clear on what they require so I photocopy everything I can think of) or queue numbers running out. I was told they've improved a lot in recent years but your friend's experience in Prague tells me otherwise.

Baoying said...

Wow, left this post for 2 days and there are so many comments on this. Well, my experience has definitely taught me a lot of things about Malaysia immigration authorities. They are really ridiculous beyond belief. It took me 2 years to get my passport back but I was with 2 other Singaporeans who also had their passports taken in the bag that the muggers took. It took the Singaporeans 1 week to get theirs replaced and that is inclusive of postage time. Mine took 2 years because according to the Malaysian authorities, they needed 4 years to verify that i did not sell my passport for a profit, because "lots of people do that". So they told me I was going to go 4 years without a passport while I was in the middle of my university degree overseas. I mean seriously??!! A Singapore passport allows you to travel to USA and China without a visa, don't you think their passport is more valuable? Where is the rational here? And it took me 2 years to find the right "connection", who knew the right person in the right department who was willing to issue a simple letter that 'accepted' my explanation of mugging (which was, incidently all backed by police statements). I don't understand why Malaysia is so adamant that our passport is so 'precious'? I mean is there really a big percentage of Malaysians selling their passport as a business?

Seriously, I will never give up my Malaysian passport, so no, PP I will not become a Singaporean even if I am frustrated with my government's policies. But thanks Lilian for a place to vent my frustration. Now that I have a proper passport (even after I got my replacement passport, it was only valid for a year, which i renewed yearly until I finally got a new proper passport that is valid for 5 years, 3 years later, so that brought my horror passport saga to a total of 5 years!!) I do not bring it with me. When I travel, I lock it in the hotel safe, rather than carry it with me.

Lil, if you really that muddle-headed with your passport, can't you get a scanned copy, have it certified as true copy (maybe in Russian), laminate that and carry that around with you as ID? I know some authorities might still give you trouble for it but that kind of inconvenience you can deal with. But the other kind, let's just say that I felt so helpless against our system and I do not EVER wish that on anyone else. Like I said, the worse that the Russians can do to you is maybe hold you in custody until you can produce a valid ID that is safe at home. I much rather that than deal with Malaysia immigration.

Much love and good vibes (esp for your special day)! B

Lilian said...


Gosh, I knew I would face lots of problems if I had really lost my passport but Bao, what you're saying is just ridiculous. If it were possible, I'm even more grateful now for the miracle that is my returned passport.

I'll think about your suggestion about getting a scanned copy notarised. If that's not possible, then I'll start walking around with a photocopy, as you said, the worst that would happen is some time in a Moscow cell. That'll give me something interesting to blog about.