Friday, March 5, 2010

Red Tape

Sometimes we tend to think (or at least I tend to think) that red tape is an American invention--that jumping through various bureaucratic hoops and mazes is part of the expertise of the American way.

Not so, folks, When it comes to red tape, hoops, mazes, duplicates and triplicates, jungles of rules and regulations, we Americans are mere children.

Just try to do something simple here in the far East, such as fly from Bali to Singapore--a mere three hour trip. You may as well be trying to satisfy every law in Hebrew scripture. You may as well be seeking a ticket to Mars.

No, you cannot just go to the ticket office and say you want a roundtrip ticket from Denpassar to Singapore. What foolishness to think it so! Not, not at all. You must first go through a series of intermediaries--lets call them travel lawyers for the sake of essential accuracy. These people will study your situation, gather documents, prepare the documents, take your money, and then send you to the next person in line. These are the people on the departure end of the line. Next you must make arrangements with the people on the arrival end.

The people on the arrival end will gather documents, prepare these for you, study the situation, meet you in Singapore, take your money, and then put you back in a taxi to the airport.

Before even beginning, you must have your documents prepared and stamped by the departure lawyers in order that they can be stamped in Singapore by the arrival lawyers. You must have your picture taken at a private studio, have multiple copies made in three or four sizes. You must pay in rupiah for your tickets, along with tax, then you must pay in Singapore with Singapore dollars for your visa, and on returning to Bali you must pay again, in American money this time, for the privilege of returning.

You must pay for your bags to be carried, for Western people are hardly allowed to carry their own bags. It would seem an insult, and quite a selfish thing in addition.

It is a one day trip. You leave in the morning, you return in the evening. A simple thing indeed--which has somehow cost you several billions of rupiah. One comes home a poor man, an orang miskin, but I can well imagine in advance that one will be very happy to be home again.

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