being irish

26 Aug

As many of you will be well aware, travelling on the green mamba* can be grimace-inducing. Many Saffas try to hunt out tenuous anscestoral (or other) links with “acceptable” countries so we can avoid the visa-nightmare that comes along with our passport. I, for example, am also an Irish citizen.

Let’s get this out of the way: I have never been to Ireland. I can not drink more than a 1/2 pint of guinness at a time (full tummy). Reassuringly, my favourite colour is green. Importantly, my grandfather registered my father on the foreign births registry, who registered me and voila! I am Irish.

The other day, I went to the consulate in CT to get my passport renewed. I had carefully filled out the (green) forms and taken the regulation photos (I wore a suitably green scarf) and I traipsed the 8 blocks downtown to hand them in for renewal. Except “Frank”** (the only person employed by the embassy in capetown) was not there. There was no indication as to when/whether he would return. Nor did he answer his cellphone.

I was starting to wonder whether I should just jolly shove my envelope under the door (actually, the space wasn’t big enough, so I was moving onto hatching another plan) when a little old couple shuffled round the corner. I aplogise for that cliched description, but they were little and old and a couple and they shuffled (around the corner). They too had hoped to renew their passports.

We moaned and chatted a bit. From their accents, it quickly became apparent that their claim to an Irish passport was a little bit more legitimate than mine. I think it appeared that way to them too:

Little Old Irish Man: So are you even Irish?

Saartjie: Well… I’ve got an Irish passport.

LOIM: I’ll bet ya do.

S: Well I’m not giving it back now!

LOIM: (*Thinking*) Och, well, at least you’re not over 65 and can’t get it for free…

I think both sets of our “irish” eyes were smiling.

We agreed to courier our appliactions to the embassy in Pretoria.

*SAfrican passport is green. A green mamba is also a highly poisonous snake.

** Frank is apparently his real name… I’m just not too sure whether he ACTUALLY exists, so the inverted commas seemed appropriate.


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