A Visit to the Consulate: A Lesson in Absurdity


Illustration by Rebecca Marks


A long corridor with windows on one side and a row of uncomfortable plastic chairs. I look at my watch, which says I have been sitting in the same spot for the past two hours. I wonder how many more I have left. The lunch and coffee I had earlier are just a faint memory now. I have been entertaining myself reading Regarding The Pains of Others by Susan Sontag and thinking if she ever considered writing about the pain caused by bureaucracy. Maybe I should have brought Kafka’s The Trial with me instead because this visit to the Polish consulate felt dangerously similar to Josef K.’s experience.

Why did I choose to spend my Thursday afternoon waiting around and wondering whether the civil servant would finally call my number or not? The reason for my visit was because the night before, I had managed to lose my wallet and with it, all my debit cards, memberships-- including the most precious one that grants entry to any exhibition free of charge (hopefully its new owner will make good use of it)-- and of similar importance, my national ID. Apparently, identity theft is something tha