A new passport… a new life?

Erasing ones slate is something that many find cleansing. Discarding ones past is for me a traumatic event, I live life with memories good and bad in clear technicolour.

Receiving a new passport yesterday was an emotional shock to the system…
…all those travel stamps from bizarre and wondrous cultures – GONE,
…visas from all manner of regimes and non-governments – GONE.

It is as though one is forceably archiving a lifetime of experience, emotions and friendships. In my case this is my third passport (not counting UN LPs) that I have had to relinquish.

My favourite visa has to be a Taliban Visa issued in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1995. A piece of white card stapled in by me (after two attempts the issuing official asked me to help), printed with sightly off-set flowery green text in Pushto on a local hand press. The rubber stamp of Kandahar’s governor with an elaborate signature and the number of valid days handwritten in English. This visa sat next to one from Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghansitan, made with a large rubber stamp and filled in by hand in both Dari and English.

Travel documents are so closely associated with events, tea spent with the soldiers during an attempted “non-coup” as they surrounded their friends holed up in the Grand Hotel, central Manila (not a shot was fired). A forced stop-over that turned into a raucous night around Addis Ababa followed by a sobering tour of the city. When anyone with suspected Eritrean parenthood was camped out in the rain before being forceably shipped off in lorries to Asmara. Sneaking out on election day in Kabul for the first democratic Parliamentary and Presidential elections.

A new passport a new challenge. Not so much how to fill up the pages, but what thrilling, shocking, depressing and optimistic images will it reflect in a few years time?

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