I’ve sent off my application for a Chinese Visa. It took much longer than it should have, due to my overwhelming paranoia that the entire application process is one big booby trap.
This paranoia is not particularly directed at the Chinese. I experience it when I fill out any kind of tax form, passport renewal, driver’s licence renewal, in fact, almost any form at all.
Every entry seems to have been designed with a cunning ambiguity, which is why they insist you fill it out in black ink, so that you have to start the whole process again when you mess up. Twelve times. Then there are the IQ trip-ups. ‘Affix your passport-size photo here.’ What, exactly, does affixing entail? Surely not glue? A paperclip would need to be huge to reach that far into the page, and might deface the picture (which, by the way, could only improve it). I settle for tape, rolled and folded four times (which, as every small child knows, stops it from sticking more than glancingly). Yes!
Traps abound. The hotel address doesn’t fit in the tiny space allotted. And how seriously do I take the question about my history of mental illness? Do I confess to consulting a therapist back in the 1980s or the time I nearly savaged the guy clamping my car? My daughter would say that my interest in horses is totally deranged, but will the Chinese see it that way?
I’ve made it to the Post Office. The return envelope addressed to myself has to be pre-stamped Special Delivery, but I can’t find instructions on posting the (now big, fat) application itself to the Chinese Embassy. Is this another test? Would sending it first class Royal Mail indicate arrogant nationalistic tendencies? Or just plain stupidity?
I’m not overthinking this, am I?
Whatever happens, I know I’m going to get the damned thing back in three days. With a REJECTED stamp and a big red circle around the question about whether I’m planning to visit the area formerly known as Tibet. Which I didn’t answer, because I’ve only planned the next ten years, and who knows?