I've been back in Indonesia as of last night, after spending a grueling three days in Singapore, and have been trying to collect my thoughts about the ordeal. After sustaining excessive mental anguish, there is some light at the end of the tunnel which I've been trying to exit to escape my immigration woes, at least for the next eleven months - after which point I may very well have to relive a similar experience.
The assignation of blame throughout the process has come up frequently, and I feel like I've been targeted for far more than my fair share by those who've been bearing the brunt of the costs attached. Not that I haven't been left far more out of pocket than anticipated. As in my previous post on the topic, I balk at describing all the sordid details involved, complicated as they are.
What I have definitely learned is I don't enjoy being stuck in Singapore with a small child who has an unparalleled ability to generate commotion. We seemed to get far more dirty looks on that well managed island country than on this wild sprawl of an archipelago, indicating that perhaps a tolerance for a lack of order does have its benefits after all.
I received no hassle from public officials on either side of the crossing, but I can't help but feel that making tired travelers jump through at least three different hoops while they're worried about making that flight on time is an unsuitable solution.
Money lost, my son's lost school days, the stress of uncertainty, having to go on an unplanned trip to another country - all caused by man-made markers, rubber stamps and a paper trail.
All of the above brings me to one conclusion and that is that after all, I agree that a world without borders would be a far saner one. I mentioned this to a friend whom I met on the plane to Singapore (who didn't have a very different reason to me for his journey). When I included the possibility that such a scheme might have a negative impact on the world economy, he replied 'who cares?'. Callous and seemingly unthinking maybe, but who really does care anymore about preserving an economy in the manner designated by those in charge? Can they really claim that it's been working?
There could well be a period of adjustment, collateral damage, and a lot of angry nativists (nationalists, whatever, take your pick of euphemisms for veiled bigotry). I don't even enjoy traveling much myself, all I'm asking is for the right to stay put where I have lived for approximately half of my thirty-one years, in the country which is my mother's native land. Preservation of ways of life be damned, culture is not something that exists by design, and only becomes richer with diversity. I have no British friends who don't rate curry among their favourite cuisines.
Who do the controls help? If they are helping anyone at all, it is obviously not those who need help the most. Instead there are people literally dying around the world due to restrictions on freedom of movement. Children going mad in detention centres for boat people. And my own hardships which are so relatively paltry that I hesitate to draw any kind of comparison. However, the fact remains that they are woven from the same cloth of absurdity.