“Oh my God, how was it?” is the phrase put to me most often today. I have just arrived home from a quick ten-day trip to Europa, to celebrate the momentous occasion of my Opa’s 85th birthday in Austria. My father hails from a small (ish), rural (ish) town called Dornbirn in the East of Austria. From the balcony of my grandparents’ home we look over the Swiss mountains and the Bodensee, which separates Germany from Austria.
There are big things happening in life right now. Things I can’t really talk about, not until the end of April. And while I’m concentrating so hard on not talking about those things, I’ve run out of space in my head to concentrate on anything else.
So bear with me. In two weeks, all will be revealed and then there will be lots to talk about for the rest of ever!
In the meanwhile, let me sum up the weekend and following week, upon which I am about to embark:
dinner at la boheme
drop off old passport at DHL
pay DHL one thousand bucks to pick up new passport in Pretoria
pop in to Scar for first hair appointment in a year
long hair, totally care
eat more chocolate
head to Avant Garden for some carnival fun and culture
probably buy stuff
complimentary Swedish massage at 12 Apostles spa
lunch at Woodlands
catch-up drinks with old friends. Loading Bay?
ooh, truffle fries
more yoga, more gym
probably (definitely) go to work a few times
pick up passport
please sweet cheesus pick up passport
Swan Lake at the Artscape
off to Austria!
I am in the most ridiculous situation. It’s complicated, keep up.
My Austrian passport has expired. Or is going to, on the 22nd February.
In order to renew my passport, I need to have my birth certificate Apostilled by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperations.
My birth certificate is too old (yup) and DIRCO can’t Apostille it for me. Therefore, I need to have a new one issued.
It will take six to twelve weeks for Home Affairs to reissue my birth certificate.
Once I have the birth certificate, I need to courier it up to DIRCO in Pretoria to be Apostilled.
Then, and only then, can I apply for a renewed Austrian passport.
Which will take six to eight weeks.
I have to be in Austria in April for my grandfather’s 85th birthday.
Let’s do the maths so long: Best case scenario, I get my birth certificate (R75) at the end of March. Add on three days for the courier (R1 000) to Pretoria and back to be Apostilled (free). And then six weeks for my passport to be issued (R1 500). Which takes us to mid April. Right about the time I climb on the airplane.
So, to sum up, R2 575 for a passport which is unlikely to arrive before I need to fly.
I can’t rely on being issued an emergency passport in time, as this also requires an Apostilled birth certificate.
And the icing on the cake is that I cannot even apply for a Schengen Visa on my South African passport because, as a European citizen, I don’t qualify.
If I can’t get on that airplane, this is what I will be missing out on:
1. My grandfather’s 85th birthday with the whole family.
2. The beautiful spring fields, dusted with the last remnants of winter snow, in the picturesque town of Dornbirn.
3. Staying in London with my beautiful, wonderful friend of nineteen years who’s face I have not seen in three years.
4. Catching up with the many sensational Britons I met in India
5. The Henri Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern
My dad had a big birthday recently and I spent some happy hours pouring over old photo albums dating back to 50’s, soaking up the years of my father’s life.
From a childhood in Austria with five siblings. University in Switzerland. Emigrating to South Africa at 25, just about the same age I am now.
When he first arrived here my father started his job, his new life, working in a clothing company on Brickfield Road.
Today that building is the Upper East Side and is where I have been working for the last five months.
It’s a beautiful symmetry, a kind of deja vu.
We celebrated this all on Sunday, in the Upper East Side building. There was lots of wine and lots of champagne and when they kicked us out after a six hour breakfast, there was brandy and Patron around the fireplace at home.
Patron in wineglasses because the ballies don’t mess around.
And this one is out of place but I found it in the albums and I loved it. my granny, my mom’s mom, died in 1999 when I was ten.
I remember her well, even the way she smelt. She always wore perfume and baby powder.
Stylish to the end.
My mum is a keen but not very diligent photographer. So she takes a lot of photos but then never really does anything with them.
Like download them to her computer.
So when she asked me to download the pictures from her and my dad’s recent trip to Europe, I found a whole bunch of beautiful pictures on her SD card, dating back to 2011.
I call this collection The Lost Years.