So I’m lying in bed and I’m thinking about Brad and Ange. And I’m thinking that the bed I’m currently lying in is big enough for Brad, Ange and their 6 kids to all sleep comfortably in. Hell, the Brangelina could have one of their infamous sexual showdowns (the kind that has their security guard bursting through the door thinking they’re being attacked by machete wielding robbers) whilst all the kids slept unperturbed and undisturbed. It is that big.

Anyway then I get to thinking that I bet Brad and Ange don’t have to worry about anything when they hit up a new city. They get taken care of probably by embassies and PRs and sycophants and probably even royalty. And maybe they have their own team of PAs supplemented by one of those global concierges that only the truly oligarchal can afford – who link you up with personal shoppers, that country’s top waxers and the phone number of every Maitre D’ in town …you can tell I’ve thought lots about this…

What I’m saying is that I doubt very much that Brad and Ange have to sit on the plane, rubbing the sleep from their eyes as the plane circles to land, trying to locate a pen and arguing over who has to fill in all 6 of their kids’ arrival cards. I bet they don’t have to queue to get through customs. I bet they get whisked off the plane and straight into a limo as the plane is still taxi-ing.  I bet their lives are as smooth as one of Angelina’s expertly waxed legs.

I think life is so unfair.

I ended up thinking of Brad and Ange today too when the Indonesian embassy in Bangkok refused to give me my passport back. I’m telling you – I doubt very much that Ange has to put up with shit like this.


You know those moments in films where you see the protagonist go postal, lean across a counter and blow their nemesis away and then the camera does one of those time slice things and spins around and the nemesis is still talking at the hero of the story and you realize you’ve just witnessed a fantasy – the protagonist merely imagining what they’d like to do but is too chicken to in actual life?

Well I had one of those moments today. Complete with time slice action. I smashed my fist through the bullet proof glass of the consular’s desk, grabbed the guy by the neck, slammed his head down and demanded he gave me my passport or I’d kill him with my bare hands. I swear Angie did something like this in Salt.

I imagined blood and violence. In reality I am said chicken. Also I am not CIA trained. So I cried.

‘No receipt. No passport,’ the man said, indifferent to my sobs.

Don’t you hate those situations when you’re somewhere official where the man literally has power of life and death over you? You know you have to hold your tongue which is a very, very difficult thing for me to do. But I’ve watched Spooks enough to know that embassy territory is sovereign territory. If I start yelling they’ll lock me up in some hidden underground hole and deny my very existence.  They might boil me in chip fat or something.

And even me with my big mouth knows that yelling at the consular dude is not going to make things go my way. I thought about whether the wodge of rupiah in my wallet would make things go my way but didn’t dare try it.

And why don’t I have a concierge service who could sort this out? A fixer even who could pay under the counter, who could call the Indo ambassador and force this man to give me my passport back?

Angie would just have to click her fingers and it would be done. She wouldn’t have to bawl and plead.

‘But I lost the receipt,’ I said to the man.

‘I no give you passport then.’

‘Well what am I supposed to do?’ I asked, trying so hard to say calm.

‘I no know.’

‘But who else is going to come for my passport? You can just look at the photo. It’s me. I’m not going to steal my own passport.’

But of course reason is pointless in the face of ambassadorial bureaucracy.

‘You go police.’

‘And tell them what exactly? That you stole my passport?’

‘You make report. You tell you lost receipt.’

‘Are you serious?”


To give me credit where it’s due. I waited until I’d turned around before I started swearing. And I did it silently, images of me being bundled out the back door by machine gun toting Indonesian soldiers assaulting my imagination.

I asked about 15 people where the police station was. No one understood me. At this point I thought about lying down on the pavement and just crying.  But instead I got a taxi to my hotel.

Then I begged them to help me. ‘Why you go police?’ the receptionist asked.

‘Because I lost a piece of paper.’

‘You no go police.’

‘Yes you don’t understand. I HAVE to go to the police.’

Finally after half an hour of trying to explain and failing I contemplated this time just crawling into the empty bath tub with a bottle of vodka and ignoring everything until someone else sorted it all out…and if they didn’t well then I’d just slip into a coma for the next five years by which point it would have to be over. But then a nice bell boy called Mr. Ball Ball walked me to the police station where no one spoke any English either.

They wrote a police report even though I was convinced they thought my passport had been stolen. Which  in a way it had but which I doubted the Indo embassy would take kindly to seeing written in a police statement.

I took it back to the consulate and waved it tentatively at the man.

‘You come back at 3,’ he told me.

Bet you Angelina Jolie wouldn’t have had to deal with this shit. Just saying.

4 thoughts on “I want to be A list. I don’t want to be a pleb any more.

  1. Vivienne says:

    Oh Sarah. I would have been in tears by the end. I don’t cope very well in such stressful situations. I hope you get it back soon.

  2. Alex Gardener says:

    Having said that, The British Embassy in South East Asia does not look kindly on foreigners who turn up to pick up their passports without their receipts, whether they look like the person in the picture or not. So why would you expect the embassy in Indonesia to function differently?

    1. boublog says:

      Sigh. I don’t believe anywhere in this post I say that I expect this embassy to function any differently to any other. In fact I mention ambassadorial bureaucracy – thereby encompassing all countries’ ambassadorial bureaucracy and not just the specific type of Indonesian bureaucracy for which the country is quite rightly famed for (I believe it’s listed in some places as the most corrupt country in the world). You always have the option to not read this blog – it’s idle thoughts. I make no pretense of offering high brow political or culturally sensitive journalism – it’s a blog of thoughts and happenings. I don’t believe this post was offensive to anyone and certainly wasn’t meant to be. AS you so rightly point out it is me that isn’t looked kindly upon – I look like the idiot who lost her receipt and then had to struggle around Bangkok trying to fix the problem I’d created. I aim to be self-depracating and most people appreciate that.

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