Emad's Blog (Under Renovation)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Missing 'a guy'..

I just spent my morning at the Ukrainian Embassy in London, trying to hack my way through an incredible complex visa process. Unsuccessfully. May or may not write a review on how best to get it done, once I've cracked it.

But right now, I can't help but reflect on something quite simple, that has been at the core of many of my challenges since having moved to London - the absence of 'a guy'.

Before people start taking this any other way, allow me to elaborate.

Having gone to university in Pakistan, and then running a startup social organisation dealing with foreigners, has meant operating successfully in an environment of imperfect information, clientelism, and incredibly thick red tape. How did I get by?

By knowing 'a guy' of course.

I knew 'a guy' to sort out visas, 'a guy' in government board of investment, 'a guy' in the intelligence (or so he said - effective still), 'a guy' for cheap laundry, 'a guy' that could deliver anything from any part of Karachi, 'a guy' for my haircuts, 'a guy' that fixed my car, 'a guy' that could sort us out with substances illegal (still living in times of prohibition), 'a guy' that could fix the doorbell even if it broke at 1AM and woke everyone up, 'a guy' that knew stuff of fashion schools, 'a guy' for sound systems for events..

Hell I even had 'a guy' in case I needed 'a guy' for something!

'A guy' is now missing. I am getting to know him for some purposes, but less so for others. I'm becoming lazy, and relying on (silly) things like websites, notice boards, and even letters in the post for information, because it exists.

Ever so often though I realise that I need 'a guy'. Especially when operating within microcosms of society even here that operate under principles similar to Pakistan. This whole experience with the Ukrainian Embassy should, at the very least, prove to be a good exercise in getting out of my comfort zone and of relying on systems! Now all I need is 'a guy' who can sort out some docs for my visa.

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