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Friday, January 28

A Quiet Diaspora?

As you're all sick of hearing by now, I'm waiting for an American Work Visa, with an important interview at the Paris consulate coming up on my return from Korea. Now, one of the requirements for that interview is to show up with two ID pictures. Not ordinary ID pictures. 50x50mm ID pictures with 35mm tall head on a white background with a specification a page long. The kind of ID pictures that militiamen object to because they epitomize big goverment, and that you can't get in an automatic booth. The kind that costs 5 euros a piece... anyhow. I've been to TWO photographers in Beauvais. Here's a transcript of the start of both conversations : "Bonjour!" "Bonjour Monsieur!" "I need some ID pictures, but they're a little diff.." "Ah, American visa pictures?" "Uh... yes." "No problem, I do these all the time, sit right there." Now, something is very strange here, and I've had similar conversations at the post office over paying the visa fees by money order. French people only need a visa for the US if they intend to work or study there, not for tourism under 90 days... and Beauvais is a rather small city. So I'm forced to conclude that a large proportion of the local population is applying for American Work Visas. Now, I'm not worried about the competition, I'm on a visa without quotas, but I'm simply amazed. Suddenly, walking in the streets of Beauvais under the usual French rainy winter (it snowed EVERYWHERE in France except here, dang it, spit and dirty sox) I'm seeing my fellow Beauvaisiennes & Beauvaisiens in a different light. They have a groceries store that sells everything you need to make your own sushi, or other exotic asian cuisines, and they sell the best Sake brand. They are applying, massively, for American Work Visas. They have a Radio-Controlled Glider store, in my very street. (Note to self, stop procrastinating on the Hawaii issue.) The local video store regularly stocks rentals that only have english or japanese/chinese language options... no French. They have cheap, super high speed broadband access I can't even get. They have a store that sells all the available iPod versions! I thought I was the unique Geek, hiding in the woodworks in a sleepy little town that doesn't even know what l33tdom is. I was wrong. By a bizzare process of l33t-tropism, I've come to settle, as a stepping off point before Ellis Island , in a town replete with secretive bilingual geeks waiting for their visa paperwork to come thru. They're probably reading this blog as we speak...How Twilight Zone is that? That's Fifth Dimension, to you frenchies. Location : Beauvais, France Listening : Morning Sedition, Air America Radio, on Podcast. Reading : Megatokyo.

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