We made a trip to the American consulate in Dubai this week: I had to surrender my US green card (long story); and Son2 needed his passport renewed.
DH and I, and Son2, all had to attend, in case one of us was trying to spirit him out of the country without the other knowing. The appointments for consular services were helpfully during school hours, so the place was crawling with children in school uniform, adults clutching paperwork, steely eyed officials and guards.
Son2 wasn’t happy at all about missing swimming at school, so DH told him a little white lie: “We’re going to the president’s mansion,” he said. “You’ll have to be good,” we added. “There’ll be handcuffs there and everything.” (That bit’s probably true.)
On arrival, we passed through the body scanner, gave up our phones, the car keys and my handbag, and proceeded to Fort Knox’s main area – a large space containing half a dozen rows of chairs and a concession stand selling pizzas and other snack foods.
We waited our turn, and I asked DH for the umpteenth time if we had all the paperwork we needed:
– My green card – tick
– Son2’s passport, and copy of the bio data page – tick, tick
– Original birth certificate, and one copy – tick, tick
– Mine and DH’s passports, plus copies – tick, tick, tick, tick
– Passport form (fill out online, print and bring with) – tick
– Passport photo (US size, full-face, no looking down, ears exposed) – tick
– Fees: 388 AED – tick
I was almost holding my breath at the counter, sure there’d be something we’d overlooked. Son2’s school reports perhaps. His great great grandmother’s (on the paternal side) proof of pioneering voyage across the Atlantic and first homestead. Our tax returns. First pet’s photo, eye level 28-35mm from the bottom of the photo, no sunglasses.
“Do you have another picture?” asked the official, frowning at the perfectly proportioned, US passport-sized headshot we’d had taken of Son2.
“No,” we answered, glumly.
“The background needs to be white,” he said, pointing out the so-opaque-it-was-barely-there tinge of colour visible in the backdrop.
Any mum who’s ever felt like she’s trying to pin a woodland sprite to a studio chair when getting her young child photographed will understand why we groaned – then crossed our fingers and toes when he said he’d put the application through and let the system decide!