You may recall a small incident involving me, a camera and the American Embassy. To quickly recap, I was soundly chastised for taking a picture of the American Embassy (without knowing there’s a policy that you can’t), and complained to my elected (and appointed) officials. I was invited to the Embassy (sans camera), and that visit occurred today.
Although it’s a walk to the the Embassy, it is a longish one (great for getting Elanor to nap, not great when you’re wearing professional clothes and don’t want to get sweaty), and I took a cab this morning. I went through security (I’d left the cell phone-which has a camera in it, and the camera at home) and was issued a badge reading something to the effect of “ESCORT NEEDED AT ALL TIMES.” I was amused by my badge.
Waiting for my escort by a room that handles citizen needs while in Singapore, it struck me that it’s also a room I’ll see again when we have #2. (Sidebar–if you have a baby in Singapore and are not a citizen, your child is not eligible for dual citizenship or Singaporean citizenship. You have X number of days to register their birth with your home country and get them a passport–I think about a month.) It’s times like that when the reality of living abroad really strikes me; so much of my life here is mundane things like grocery shopping, movies, play dates for E that we’d be doing regardless of where we live–but things like foreign birth registration is not something I’d run into if we were still at home . This would also be where I’d need to go if I needed extra pages, to renew my passport, that sort of thing.
A woman escorted me to the Deputy Chief of Mission’s office, where I met with him and a Security Officer. Both had spent some time in Boston so we chatted about home (including my noting that the next best thing to being in the playoffs was to see the Yankees eliminated, too). We discussed the policy and why it exists, and after our discussion, I can understand that even in safe little Singapore, the policy exists for a reason.
However, I was told the “no photography” signs are on order. My complaint all along was just that being confronted by security is really jarring and upsetting when you’re unaware of a policy. I have little sympathy for people who see a sign and still take pictures. We can debate the policy amongst ourselves, but I’m happy that they’re going to do their part to make people aware of the policy’s existence. (Yes, after we get back from our visit, I’ll have an eye-but not a camera!-out for them).
I also got a few recommendations for restaurants; Burger Shack on Bukit Timah and Jerry’s BBQ. I’m mostly posting them here because I’ll forget the names otherwise. Any local readers know them/like them? Menu suggestions?
It was pretty cool to visit the Embassy, but the coolest part was that when I reached out them, they reached back. I’m used to contacting my elected officials with little to no response (a form letter response is usually the best you can hope for…an exception was Susan Fargo’s office when I called to talk to them about the breastfeeding bill in MA back in 2008 who were phenomenal). Expressing a concern, and feeling as though you’ve really been heard is one of the most validating experiences I think anyone can have. It was also validating to be spoken to as an adult, and that they wanted me to understand where they were coming from instead of being given a “that’s the policy, suck it up buttercup” kind of response.
So thank you to the staff at the Embassy for hearing me, inviting me in, and taking time out of your schedules to meet with me.