Very long post, read at your own risk :o)
I had a passport adventure! it started when I decided to renew my 10 year old never used Libyan passport about 3 weeks ago, I have been thinking about going to Libya for a visit after 30 years of living in the UK without going back all this time.
I went to the Libyan consulate near Knightsbridge, the guy working at the reception while he wasnt the friendliest guy in town he actually was polite even if slow, he called someone from inside who explained that they can not renew my passport as it is very old and that I need a new one, at only £15 I agreed, filled the forms handed in 6 photos (yes 6!) and was told to come back in 2 weeks time, I asked them to add my son Amir to my passport which they refused as he was already registered in his mother's passport, the idea is if I decide to go back to Libya at the end of this month I want to take Amir with me as he hasn't been there for 5 years and can not remember a thing about Libya. this annoyed me and I asked them how I am going to be able to take Amir, they wouldn't even issue him with a passport, eventually I asked them if he can travel on his British passport to which they said yes he can but he has to pay for a visa, I said fine lets do that and how much is the Visa fee please? £65! yes £65 pounds for a 9 year old Libyan boy to visit his country! and as if that was not enough, I had to go to the British passport office to get an Arabic stamp on Amir's passport, as far as I know Libya is the only country in the world that requires that to be done.
Anyway, I left the consulate and went back home without applying for Amir's visa as I wanted to wait for my new Libyan passport first.
After few unsuccessful phone calls to the Libyan consulate, I decided to pay them another visit, yesterday, first I got Amir's Arabic stamp then travelled to Knightsbridge, I met the same receptionist again, to be fair he tried to help but told me the passport hadn't been done, few minutes later he came back and said because of lack of new passports they are having to renew my old passport for another year which is fine by me, they refunded £5 back and I was told to come back at 3 in the after-noon to pick it up, I thought OK great lets apply for Amir's visa since I'm there, I handed in the forms and the fee of £65 and again I was told to come back about 3 in the after-noon so I had about 3 hours to kill, it had been many years since I went to Knightsbridge so I thought lets go for a walk around and maybe visit Harvey Nichols and Harrods which I haven't visited in many long years so next starts my Knightsbridge adventure, I will get back to the passport adventure later:
I gave Harvey Nichols a miss and went to Harrods instead, the first thing you notice is the huge number of people entering Harrods from all entrances, many of them are just tourists with no intention of buying anything (just like me) I walked inside and straight away I got that feeling that I shouldn't be there, that it is too much, over rated and just uncomfortably over the top and over priced, I didn't feel like taking pictures of all the bling they sell instead I just walked around trying to find something interesting, my first thought was if the Princess Diana & Dodi Fayed shrine was still there! Harrods was sold recently by its Egyptian owner Mohamed Al-Fayed to the Qatari Royal family and I thought perhaps they removed the shrine (which I have never seen before) but as I was walking in the Egyptian Hall I found the huge shrine surrounded by many tourists taking pictures, obviously the new owners thought it was a good people puller that will bring many more people to the shop.
inside this glass pyramid is the engagement ring that's allegedly was given to Diana by Dodi just before they died!
This is a book of condolences I found on the second floor, notice on the plaque the word "Killed" without any mention of the car crash, Mohamed Al-Fayed is still convinced that Diana & Dodi's accident was organised by the British establishment but that of course was never proved.
When Mohamed Al-Fayed bought Harrods he added the Egyptian Hall which is OK but still looks like a fair ride in a theme park, what he did then is he added many statues dotted near the roof of a sphinx with a man's face, the face is actually modelled on Mohamed Al-Fayed's own face so that you can see him staring at you where ever you walk, what he did after that is he got the Egyptian Hall listed, that means no one would ever be able to change anything, including his face, he left his legacy there for everyone to see, now and in the future.
Al-Fayed staring at you!
By then I was really bored and was really ready to leave, the place was heaving with people from all over the world but the majority I would say were Americans and Gulf Arabs then I remembered that many years ago (about 20 years) I visited the pet department which was full of all sorts of exotic and purebred pets so I looked around and indeed they still had a pet department but with very few animals for sale, you were not allowed to take pictures so I respected the rule and only looked at the fluffy kittens that were for sale at £1000 each! then I went to an enclosure that had 5 white Chihuahua puppies, they looked like white rats but were really cute and full of life, what is the price you might ask! the price was a measly £2,200 each! wow do people actually spend that much money to buy a purebred animal??
At this point I saw some people take pictures so being me, I just took my phone out of my pocket and clicked away, here are a couple in case someone is considering buying a Harrods Chihuahua :o)
Well after you buy your precious puppy, what about accessories, clothing, bedding and treats? yes they do have them all, here are some items you might consider buying for your spoilt pet:
Princess pink dog bed
only £399 lol
all the latest in pets fashion!!
Yummy cupcakes, biscuits and birthday cakes, no they are not for humans, these are treats for pets!
I know some people will think that some Europeans value animals more than people and they laugh at them for buying expensive items for their pets, yes many do care about animals and there is nothing wrong with that, most of the stupid items I mentioned up are thankfully only bought by few people, the majority have more sense than fall for this stupid bling, to be honest, to me there is NO difference between an Arab buying a diamond studded mobile phone at £100,000 and a European/British person buying a diamond studded dog collar at £100,000 too, they are both the same, lots of money, no taste and no sense what so ever.
It was time to leave by then and head back to the Libyan consulate, as I arrived about 2:30 a number of Libyan people were waiting for their passports, the receptionist then came with a pile of passports and started handing them, he saw me and said he had my passport, as he was ready to give it to me, he noticed something, a note, he then told me sorry I need to take it back it needs one more stamp by then the nice Libyan lady that works at the visa section came over and gave me Amir's passport with the Visa to enter Libya, I sat down for a while not knowing what is going on until a man from the consulate came out to talk to me, he said that my passport was never renewed and therefore could not be extended and that I need a new passport, I started to get angry by then and told him that I originally applied for a new one and so on... then he said that it might take a week to one month for my passport to be ready, I was shocked I told him that I applied about 3 weeks ago and that because they told me it was going to be ready this after-noon that I payed £65 for Amir's visa, he was actually very nice and understanding, he told me to go upstairs and ask to talk to the consul, I did just that, while I was waiting the same guy came over and asked me to follow him, he took me to the consul who was surprisingly very friendly, I explained the situation to him and he actually was very angry that they refused to add Amir to my passport and that I was made to pay £65 for a visa for my Libyan son to visit his country, he picked up the phone and told them downstairs off and that they had no right to make rules and decisions, he then agreed to renew my passport for another year and asked me to come back as soon as I am back from Libya and promised me a brand new passport he then told me to go downstairs to pick up the £65 I paid, I was very pleased with him, he really did do his job well, unfortunately there are some there that think just because they work in an office then they can make up the rules and do what ever they want, the money was refunded immediately and I left the consulate a happy bunny, all in all it was not a bad experience, I expected a lot worse but there are some really good people there that do try to help. I am still not sure if I will be going to Libya, after a 30 years absence for me this is a major step, if I do go it will have to be soon (in the next week or so) as I want to be back before Ramadan, InshaAllah Khair.
This morning I received an Email which read:
Congratulations! Emma Lee here, and your blog, Anglo Libyan, has received
our 2010 Top 40 Muslim Blogs award!
You can see your name amongst our winners here at:
Winners were chosen through a scoring system led by internet nominations,
which came from your reader base!
I had no idea about the Muslim Blogs Awards, I do not know who voted for me but I am honoured. many thanks to Emma and all that voted me.