Thursday, January 08, 2009

...And I Didn't Even Have Time To Crochet!

As dangerous as war is, like the present Election Campaign War aka Operation "Cast Lead," life goes on here in Israel.

My two passports, the American and the Israeli are due to expire soon. Yes, that means that I have to renew them, so on Monday, I had my picture taken at my usual photo-printing place on King George Street, Jerusalem. No surprise that the requirements for each are totally different. Israel is much easier, a pale blue background, and I could sit there smiling happily, knowing that making aliyah as a young bride decades ago was a wise move.

For my American pictures, the photographer reversed the background to white and told me to take off my large earrings (shades of the demands I remember from my high school yearbook picture) and make sure that my ears show. He also suggested that I wipe off my smile, so that the picture would look more like a mug shot. I followed orders, since he said it was based on other customers' experiences.

I checked out how to get a new passport on the Israeli Ministry of Interior site. There is an option, for less money, to do it online, but I'm a "people person" and always feel more comfortable f2f. So yesterday, armed with the pictures, my dying passport and the hat I'm crocheting-so my expected wait would be pleasant and productive, I traveled to Jerusalem. I left when convenient, not believing in getting there "early." I figured that the middle of opening time would probably be best, and I was right. The security line to enter took less time than it takes to get into the bus station, and that was with "hand" checking, not x-rays.

I walked up the very long two flights of stairs, the equivalent of three or four by today's standards. Decades ago, a schlepped baby carriages up and down those stairs, and davka now there's an elevator.

I asked for a passport form from the "information clerk," who also gave me my number. I sat down in the fairly empty room, saw that there were less than ten ahead of me and quickly tried to fill out the form. I had barely finished when a clerk called out asking if there was "anyone for passports." I raised my hand and she told me where to stand.

While I was waiting, behind just one person, I overheard another clerk trying to explain to an uncomprehending English-speaker that he needed an additional document, so, of course, I butted in. They were both grateful, since it was getting frustrating for them.

When he finished, I asked the woman if "she did passports," and she said yes, and very quickly it was all done and paid for. Now I just have to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

From entering to leaving the building took less than half an hour. Now, I have to make my appointment, via the internet, for my US passport. I can't imagine that being as pleasant.

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