I got my passport out to check the date, cos I’m planning a splash over the moat to Europe sometime soon, and, as I flipped through the pages I noticed my Istanbul stamp.
I call it my Istanbul stamp because I think only I could have managed that one; I was returning to London on a long haul and the final stop off was Istanbul – in all fairness I had had virtually no sleep for about 24 hours for various reasons, melatonin (or lack of it) being one and a very uncompromising lady sat behind me refusing to let me put my back rest in any position other than bolt upright, was the other – nuff said.
So Istanbul arrived and a very fetching 4 hour stop off loomed, when horizontal was all I really wanted to be. Switching my thoughts to the more vertical practice of coffee drinking I had a vague idea that I could nip into town and spend a few coffee’s watching the Bosphorus go by. So in my semi stupefied state I wandered off the plane and round a few corners, to what I thought was the waiting lounge designated for us to while away the 4 Hours, looking for someone to ask directions.
It was then noticed I had sort of missed a couple of signs and gone the wrong way through a barrier, a bit like at the supermarket when you’ve gone in and not bought anything and want to get out, only this barrier let me through.
I found myself in a hall full of busy travellers and looking at the signs I guessed I was in Turkey proper cos I couldn’t read them.
I remembered the parental advice of childhood years "if you’re lost ask a policeman" so I wandered up to a very Uniformed guy complete with gun, only his wasn’t like Spanish police guns this was sort of longer and looked a bit more... um... bigger.
Anyway I smiled and said I had got 4 hours and what was the best route into town; to which he a) pointed out that I shouldn’t be on this side of the barrier I had just crossed and b) it was Sunday and everyone and his dog would be on the streets rendering a short trip downtown like a trip round the M25 in rush hour.
He smiled back (thank god) – maybe it was a smile of incredulousness at this nincompoop of a Brit who was actually acting out the Brit-abroad stereo type, I don’t know, but he pointed with his hand (and not the gun) gesturing me to a long queue for me to go back through into departure side – hence my Istanbul stamp, without the actual visit.
Needless to say I managed a few, may I say bloody good coffees, in the fairly masculine atmosphere of the airport coffee shop which came complete with hookahs and the volumes of smoke that goes with that, before returning to sit it out at the gate.
I could seriously cross continents for this amazing liquid
Neighbouring Euro-zone Greece is having its own over the edge car-crash of economics at the moment and people are now actively packing up apparently, and heading out, before the implosion and devastation that is expected after the strict cuts that are to be imposed by the IMF and EU terms of bailout (if they can agree).
Spain and Portugal are also in the grip of a knock-on from this and their own employment problems. In fact for reasons of being either a lender or a borrower or just in a *more exposed* state, most of the Mediterranean areas Europe-side including the UK, Ireland, Iceland, France, Germany the Swiss and the Dutch (did I leave anyone out?) are all holding their breath seeing what will happen in Greece over the next few weeks, and hope against hope that this doesn’t result in indecision (by the EU/IMF). Not to mention jittery world markets because of potential defaults to its lenders (primarily the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland) never mind one less EU state member with others in the offing to follow.
Phew!,one great big happy inter-fiscal family.
Money seemingly has no real borders, in the sense that in the *good* times, globally banks were happy to fuel debt – but equally when things change for the worse, as is now, defaults create a reverse domino effect in a fragile world economy that cannot or will not agree to absorb a default of any significance. These being many countries whose debts have racked up over the last 15 years, not just Greece.
This has a very real knock – on effect – the buck literally stops. Sending investors and such, scurrying to protect their investments putting them into more stable banks and countries, creating more uncertainty around massive none re-payment of loan situations and all those countries affected ; lenders and borrowers both.
Gold, I believe
Internal Europe has its borders for work and travel down differently to most of the world, you don’t need a stamped passport, just a passport for ID to cross (but you certainly need that).
The US and Mexico has also got its long standing border issues especially with border-state Arizona allowing a stop-and-see-your-papers-if-you-look-like-an-illegal-immigrant (ie; too Mexican) measure.
Illegal is not legal, and law is law, but the argument is skewed in Arizona it seems, by the convenient nature of its stop and ask if you have “reasonable doubt”, as most of the would-be illegal’s are in fact non-white, non-Americans.
All this sounding very complicated, and well, racist. But really the wider points of economic migration have always been cross border problems. It involves less the sense of border crossing, more a sense of necessity; people who drop everything and change their life to go somewhere to earn are usually doing because of that factor – earning a living. Leaving relative poverty and all that entails (criminals, crime, sickness, desperation) or the threat of it, in order to live. And it is all relative.
You won’t, I don’t think, find many relatively wealthy migrants having the same standards applied to them – because they will be bringing benefits. Visas are stamped quicker, ID’s issued with no more fine print looked at than the coffers in the bank.
Got a yacht? No problem! The words World and Oyster spring to mind. Nationality doesn’t really enter into it.
Borders and stamps have to be, for monitoring traffic and stopping things like actual criminals avoiding justice (or doing their own form of economic migration).
Borders are our legacy; solid but also transitional throughout history, and by default have given and defined our varied cultures, and all the historical imprint and meaning that gives us.
But still there are those who receive a certain type of dedication to the fine print and stamps of authority on the edge of these boundaries – the poor.
Sundays post is coming up .........