Friday 16 February 2007

Immigration Procedures

I have not yet applied for my British citizenship. I should. I have been living in the UK for almost 11 years and I am married to a Brit. But I have to take a test. And I haven't had time to study. So I travel on my American passport. Which is a pain when travelling in the European Union. I don't get to go in the fast aisle when I get to the immigration desk. I have to go in the "other" aisle.

Typically this "other" aisle has only 1 person on one desk and the queue is long. Upon arrival at the Berlin airport, I got into the "other" queue. And waited. And waited. The EU queue had emptied and only one person had been processed in my queue.

I did what any impatient foreigner would do. I switched queues. Luckily, I used to live in Dusseldorf and my German used to be pretty good. But this was a long time ago and I was nervous about remembering my vocabulary. Luckily, it all came flooding back to me. I explained to the immigration official (in German) that the other queue wasn't moving. And that my passport wasn't really expired. There was an extension stamp. And that my last name wasn't Smith anyone. There was a name change. And that on yet another page there was a permanent residence visa for the UK. Not sure how much of my German he understood but he got very tired of me butchering the language and I think he just stamped the damn thing so I would shut up.

I got my suitcase. (Silent Celebration Alert: BA did NOT lose my suitcase!!!) I unpacked my one big bag back into my two more manageable bags and set off in search of a taxi. German efficiency meant I didn't have far to go or long to wait and within moments I was hurtling at speed through the traffic on my way to Freidrichstrasse. (Warning: Germans drive fast!) Phew, I have survived. Ah, but not so quick. I still have to check in at the hotel.

PS I left my copy of Time magazine on the plane. I hadn't finished reading it. It was a old one all about the fascinating machinations of the brain. Anyone know where I can get an old copy?

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