1. Limbo Land
Limbo land, life still is. Over two years has been spent on the path towards gaining a Spousal Visa to enable me to be legally in Malaysia. Massive amount of forms, proof of identity, marriage certificates have been and still are required. Have never been begrudging in organising this as am well aware that there is a hefty bureaucracy to go through. Can be a bit exhausting though, especially when the same information needs to be provided to different departments. But that is just the way it is. Go with the flow so to speak.
This long period is partly our fault over something we never thought about. Our Islamic marriage was overseas in Hobart, Tasmania. Our cardinal sin was to not notify the local Malaysian Consul that we were getting married. Resulting from this the marriage was not recognised by Malaysian authorities. While, some might find this absurd, these are the rules that needed to be abided by.
First step in the Spousal Visa was to get Malaysian Syriah Court to recognise the marriage and then to it’s enforcement arm – JAWI, to issue a local marriage certificate. Process commenced back in October 2019 and stopped dead in its tracks by the first Covid outbreak. Finally Court Order issued in August last year towards getting local Marriage certificate. All the while, my Visa to stay here had run out. Whole World was on lockdown and could not leave.
Armed with Court Order, we go to JAWI and marriage certificate refused because I did not have a valid Visa. There was much discussion, but the official would not budge. This Limbo land was perpetuated when there was no need. Headed to Immigration to see what assistance could be gained and was issued with a 30 day pass which would be sufficient for JAWI to hand us the Marriage Certificate. Note that we had the most difficult non-cooperative official at Immigration who basically was aggressively insisting I leave the Country and leave now! Luckily for us, another official nearby who must have been senior intervened reminding the aggressive one as to how hard it was to go anywhere at that time, especially Australia. We are forever thankful to this wonderful person who understood my plight.
Second JAWI visit and success! Marriage Certificate gained! Oddly, the official (different person than before) never asked to see my passport or have any desire to look at the temporary visa, no matter how many times I offered! Very good service provided with a smile!
October 2020 – from memory the 9th we had booked, armed with the mountain of Spouse Visa documents. Just a mere two days earlier, complete lockdown announced. Stymied by Covid. Many months flow by with some partial opening up, but Immigration still closed to Visa applications, only open for those being Deported.
Finally managed an Immigration visit in May this year. Staff were very helpful, managed to secure a formal booking for June 12th. We were advised that some of the documents were now time expired (older than 3 months). Wearily we re-filled forms. Armed with this confidence were looking forward and bang, another Covid lockdown three days before the appointment. Creeping frustration and a measure of depression just wouldn’t let go. Limbo land was starting to feel never ending.
No Visa causes odd issues in the most unexpected places.
The Debit Card had stopped working. Went to Bank to get replacement. Should have been a simple process, but no it required two appointments as I didn’t have the passport with me for the first one. Back in the afternoon with passport. Filled out replace card form, go to Counter where the clerk asks for passport, clerk looks through it for too long, says excuse me and disappears through a door with passport, comes back 5 minutes later without passport. Explains just checking something, I ask what to check, doesn’t respond, just looks away.
Ten minutes stretches to half an hour and still no passport. Back to counter I go, asking where is my passport? Again no answer. Frustrated back to seat I go. Fifteen minutes later counter clerk calls me up, and says because no current Visa cannot issue replacement card. Over an hour spent, most without the passport to be told this!! It had taken so long that I was visualising the Bank contacting Immigration and Bank delaying waiting for Immigration to come and haul me away.
Finally convinced the Clerk to call the wife. A very short conversation and then I was being issued with replacement card. Staggered but most thankful I was of whatever Shakirah had said. Irony was that I was also doing change of address, with absolutely no issues and not even asking for proof of new address. Happy to accept I live in Kuala Lumpur but not happy to provide replacement debit card because of expired visa! Illogical! Two hours of my life spent just to replace a worn out Debit Card. Paranoid Banks, severe Covid restrictions, petty officialdom holding up Court ordered documents and threatening deportation, Immigration revolving doors – open closed open closed. All the while this Covid ticking timebomb severely exploded in Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur and nearby. Truly frightening it became. Deaths in houses in the same street really rammed home how deadly it had become. The Bank visit brought it all to head in one perfect storm of dismay, despair and much pent up frustration.
Driving home, anger coursed through every fibre of being, trying but failing to calm myself by remembering all the helpful Government and Bank officials along the way, not to get distracted by the very few who made life so difficult. High afternoon – 3pm, into driveway, out of car, upstairs – storm in, yell – “I’m going for a walk”, and out I stomp!
Hottest part of the day and I steam uphill towards the Bukit (hill). Go further than normal and focus on getting up to the water tower near the top. Sweat pouring out, full sun, never walked up that hill faster in my life before, no provisions, no hat – just pent up steam a permanent cloud above the head.
Hit the rough sealed track to water tower, sudden shade from fully closed over tree canopy jogged the senses to just stop, take a breath, look around. Corner of right eye gets distracted by some hazard tape wrapped around a small tree about five metres metres away. Investigate I do. A walking track disappears from here to somewhere else, with locked shady tree enticing in its view. Is whispering in the afternoon stillness –“Come, take a stroll along me, you know you want to”…… So, I did.
Track was nice and wide running along the grade. A few mountain bike tyre marks spotted and very few footprints. Small panorama over hillside suburbia and Genting Highlands beyond.
Track veers right and uphill, no longer the panorama, now tropical leafy enclosure, shady, cool and comforting in it’s lush green embrace.
Stopped, became still and listened. Vague muffle of vehicle traffic, but only if you listened hard. Warm lazy Sunny Day sounds dominate. Random cicada’s, as if they were feeling too lazy to really warble up. Bird song and calls floating in and out. Sudden creak of tree branch against tree branch up in tree canopy somewhere, mini echo to the area, but no crack and fall sounds. Rustle in ground foliage not far away, but goes still just as quickly. Occasional dead silence, and traffic background seeps into the senses.
Checked phone health app. Had only gone 300 paces from the water tower track. Will do another 300 and see where I end up. Yes, keep eyes on the track in front, some exposed clay worn smooth, potentially slippery, small bits of rock sticking out as enticing trip hazard with tree roots to use to advantage for easy stepping up the medium grade hill. Equally so, the ears have tuned to the forest. Now, nothing else exists. One area within a grove of Tree Ferns was so quiet and stopped to drink the sounds of silence. Not long enough as the all pervasive mosquitos made sure of that. On I go, up and along.
Bosum of Nature suddenly gives way to a clearing again, with restored panorama to Genting Highlands. Health app checked and am 700 steps in. Have a short explore and find the continuing track disappearing uphill at a reasonably easy grade. Decided, that would be it for today, non-provisioned as I was, turned around and strolled home. Spirit and soul within stilled to a wonderful casualness that two hours earlier had been a raging storm.
Early morning, a week later, backpack with provisions and away I go on strike mission. The Bukit took me into its firm lush green embrace. Tracks walked, both the well used and the less traveled, new plants and exotic flowers found. Two hours drifted into years as if the forest and I were one. Too soon, the embrace gave way to suburban road.
Home now, sweaty, aching calves, beatific smile refuses to leave the face. A minor reflection to what drove me to explore in the first place. From pain to absolute pleasure, from adversity leads to success. These almost cliched sayings coming to the fore.
Panacea it was.
Postscript – finally had Visa appointment a bit over a week ago. Submitted, and somehow out of the 17 documents provided only five were acceptable. The official advised a pretty good effort, but normally takes three of four attempts to get things right. So yet again, we go down this path of no end game, limbo land still, but the light at the end of the tunnel is growing however slowly. Hopefully, twice submitted will be sufficient. Fingers and toes crossed!