If issued in a developed country, it actually functions as a pass to many — some exotic — ports, just as the name suggests.
If issued in one of the many developing countries, it’s actually a hindrance to travel and movement!
In an earlier post I described how my Nepalese passport is not received very well by diplomatic missions and airports around the globe.
As a matter of fact, it has been the bane of my globe-trotting life style in other ways too!
Before 2007, it was valid for — and had to be replaced — every five years. You couldn’t extend its validity as some passports from other countries.
Replacement of most passports is not that big a deal — often you can get it done in the country of temporary residence.
Nepal being Nepal, that option was generally not available. Where it was available, the process was generally convoluted enough that it was a deterrent! As such, I would have to opt for getting it replaced back home. That, however, was rarely straightforward!
I had to either make sure to visit Nepal at least 6 months before it expired — if planning to travel the following summer — or plan to be home for the summer it would expire in.
There would also be the odd time when I would have to travel home and get it replaced — for whatever reason — long before it expired.The summer of 2007 was one of those times! You see, I was planning a trip to Cuba the following summer!
The replacement in 2007 — my fifth passport — however was valid for ten years! Needless to say I did a little dance of joy! I could go TEN WHOLE YEARS without worrying about the logistics of replacing it!! 🙂
But of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in! Only four years on, the summer of 2011, it had almost run out of blank pages! This, to be sure, had NEVER happened with any of the previous four passports!
And there’s more of course! (Murphy’s Law can be considerably more unjust…some times!)
Whilst in the past I would have been able to replace it over the summer, i.e. the summer of 2011 itself, this time was an exception!
In my 23 years of moving around the world, crossing borders two or three times a year — some times more — and moving country of residence every couple of years on average, for the FIRST TIME, the visa for my next work destination — Qatar — had already come through long BEFORE the summer and my travel date of August 2011.
Replacing it would have meant loss of the visa! That, in turn, would have created much problem and hassle for my employer — Qatar Academy — which, a personnel at the school, made sure I understood.
So, from Spring 2011, I had no option but to find ways to prolong its life at least for the duration of my Qatari visa, which was until the summer of 2012! At airports then, when I would hand my passport over it would be opened to a partly used page with a polite request to put the arrival, or departure, stamp there!
Plus, very much unlike Murphy’s law, 2011-12 involved limited travels to foreign destinations — pretty much every single school break, I traveled home, instead, obviating the need for blank pages! For a while, it looked like I had it sorted, that I had triumphed over Murphy’s Law…until (who was i kidding?!) winter came along!
Nepalese passports have always been the hand written variety, which had NEVER been an issue with any of the 40 odd countries I had traveled to over the preceding two decades! But of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the country I was in, had to take issue with that!
It turned out, some countries in the Middle East–the destination for the majority of migrant Nepalese workers — had decided to stop accepting hand written passports from Nepal! Qatar, of course, was one of them.
So it seemed I would lose to Murphy’s law — I had to replace the fifth passport long before it expired, and get my sixth passport in less than twenty-five years!
There was however a silver lining to all that! Unlike most countries I had lived in, the Nepalese embassy in Qatar, I discovered, replaced passports! Obviously, because of the large number of Nepalese in the country.
Great, right? Wrong!
The process, it turned out, would take a few months! In the mean time, I was assured, the embassy would provide a temporary travel document! I could imagine the kind of joke a Nepalese traveling on a temporary travel document would be, given that a genuine passport, in the first place, is accorded so little respect everywhere! So I passed on that!
I ended up replacing it in Nepal the summer of 2012…in a week, which is another story worthy of a blog post of its own!
So now, I am the proud owner of a machine readable passport…with only 32 pages instead of the usual 60. What that most likely will mean is that it will probably not see me through even the next four years let alone ten! As you know, the last time I had a 60-page, ten-year valid passport, that’s exactly what happened!!
However, given that I am now back in Nepal, having given up my jet-setting life style, I just might not need to use it as often in the coming years.
But then again, who knows, maybe it’ll get lost or stolen. I am not being a pessimist: I am just showing my deference to Murphy’s Law…of course! 🙂
Do you have passport stories? If you do, please share!
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