I braved a further trip to immigration office last week. Decided to try jumping then by going on Friday afternoon late, before a public holiday on Monday. The deadline strategy seemed to work okay and they processed me in almost record time. My nemesis for the last three months was almost gracious in defeat, saying ‘have a nice day’ as I left, without any detectable note of sarcasm. Outside the far flung office a collection of foreigners clung together for comfort with all the taxis gone by that time of day and only the motor cycle option left.
As I climbed on the pillion a couple of stragglers asked me if it was safe – I said ‘up to you’ so we made a convoy and headed into town. It was exhilarating to find a way through all of that gridlocked traffic, even heading through crowded markets and down the narrowest of alleyways. Vraiment formidable shouted the French guy across to my bike as we moved into Red Arrows formation on a wider street though the Dutch lady still had her eyes wide shut. To our left the sobering sight of a train derailment, passengers milling about on the tracks. I guiltily want to reach for my phone camera then resist.
Back in town i catch a train and wonder how they don’t derail more often as we sway against each other, crushed in tight, smart phones held high to be read like lanterns as passengers seek safe shelter. Back on the street i hail another bike for the final passage home. Some of these riders are really cautious others are in a permanent competitive frenzy. This guy was one of the frenzy merchants releasing the clutch before you have fully announced your destination never mind negotiated a price.
My bag swings wildly behind as we snake towards a righthand junction on an eight lane highway. He races as fast towards the light as ever this bike will allow. Just as we approach the changing light at highest speed he starts to sneeze convulsively and repeatedly. i clutch my newly stamped passport praying that the six months stay is of execution as well as of residence.