Cognitive Consulate Consistency

What’s wrong with people working in consulates?

An alternative question: what the hell?

If you remember my very first entry (which is still accessible for any passionate reader, hint hint), I was telling you how much shocked and appalled I was with what a woman working in the Thai consulate in Lithuania told me during my ridiculous interview with her. Well, to use some bad inductive thinking, I am very tempted to generalise all the employees of all the consulates in the world by saying that there’s something terribly wrong with them. This uncontrollable desire stems from my most recent experience in a consulate that made me very briefly – and with lots of frustration – ask myself certain questions.

So, as I had finally decided what country would be my stop on the way home, I applied for an India visa and was waiting for the application results to arrive. And indeed, one evening I received a call from the consulate in Chiang Mai, the guy telling me that my visa was all fine and I could pick it up the following day. Interestingly, that wasn’t the only thing the consulate guy wanted to tell me. Or, rather, to ask me (I will skip the whole part where I was wondering whether he was asking all these questions for my visa purposes or if he was flirting with me coz I realised the second scenario to be true once I saw that guy back in the consulate).

Not to make this entry a detailed transcription of our dialogue (I’m in fact writing this while my new travel companion is transcribing his 10-hour interview. Ha!), I’ll just tell you two of the questions that the guy asked me. One, whether I’ve done any Thai cooking courses. Two, whether I’ve learnt Thai massage. My answer to both of them was “well, I was on a really tight budget, so…no.” It was a way more elegant answer than the one I had in my head: “I mean, c’mon, man, I’m volunteering, I’m f-in’ broke!” But so his initial ignorance wasn’t as bad as what he said after my responses (it did feel a bit like interrogation; and interrogation, my friend, is NOT a synonym for quality flirting).

He said something like this: “hmmm so I guess you didn’t learn that much about Thailand after all”.

Then, a small pause in our conversation followed. A paused filled with lots of intense thinking on my side, yet not at all about how little I know about Thailand. Instead, it was on how to comment on his sentence politely.

“Well, you see, I do think I’ve learnt about Thailand in some other respects…” I started my monologue that, I was sure, would not magically turn the listener into a sensible man.

When our tiring 15-minute chat ended, I was left with a single thought spinning in my head:

“I’ve learnt nothing?! Screw you!”

(I’ve grown a lot during my post-university time, as you can see)

Then, my friends, I started doing the worst thing possible (worst, as in utterly unnecessary): I started thinking of concrete points to prove that guy – and anybody else – wrong. Thai monarchy and how the Thais see it, the minority groups situation and some trends in the national education system, a deeper insight into a Buddhist culture, … I stopped myself some minutes into this reflection that was sparked by sheer panic. This panic was quickly replaced by a laughter (since I have a single room I can afford laughing out loud alone without anyone thinking I’m crazy; this sentences reveals the fine difference between “thinking” and “suspecting”) at my own commentary:

You could have learnt all these things that I was pointing out to myself, and yet, if you haven’t done Thai cooking or massage course, you haven’t learnt that much. Or, according to that man, nothing at all.

“A little bit of a wasted year that will be, right?” – a woman from the Thai consulate in Lithuania said when I was applying for my visa. And now, her colleague from a faraway country seems to have reiterated what she has so wisely foreseen. I should thank both of them for having predicted and summarised my experience for me.

Likewise, I sincerely thank them for giving me more ideas to reflect on during my wasted year. In fact, they made me feel rather good about myself for simply having found stuff to blog about during such a lazy time. Close to twenty entries out of nowhere?  Boo-Yaa.

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