Wow – now I’m also the proud owner of a retouched visa-photo. So crazy I don’t even know how to express myself.
Retouching visa/passport photos? Of course!
The story started an ordinary day in Kathmandu, Nepal. Well, to be more accurate it wasn’t just any ordinary day, because this was the day when we were going to get photos for Surendras’ passport and visa for Sweden. For all of you who recently joined me and don’t know all of my Asian lowbudget history 😉 Surendra was my Newari/Nepalese boyfriend/fiancee for quite some time.
“He has to wear a shirt for the photo. And a jacket, too.”
Supendra, his kidbrother, had been nagging me about Surendra needing a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket for the photo. I simply thought he was a tad hysterical and completely ridiculous. What? Having to dress up in order to get a passport photo? I’d never heard such madness in Sweden. You’re supposed to look the way you usually look, casual style. Right?
A simple t-shirt isn’t good enough.
We set off to the photographer, and he too started to moan about Surendra being so ”casual”. It wouldn’t look good in the photo, why didn’t he have the sense to wear something decent instead of something so simple as a t-shirt? He hadn’t even bothered to shave off his facial fuzz. However, Surendra himself seemed rather unaffected with this dialogue – he is usually unaffected by most things in the world around him, for good and for bad.
“Who’s that white guy?”
When we finally received the photos both me and Surendra stared at them, and Suren somewhat confused bursts out a: ”Who is that?”. His face was smooth and nice – AND COMPLETELY WHITE! His skin was whiter than mine, and he didn’t have the slightest wrinkle or anything, and all of his fuzzy facial hair was gone.
”Did you retouch this?”
I asked between the happy tears but the Nepali guy just eye balled me and shook his shoulders and head in that usual manner. The audacity! As far as I know this is pretty serious stuff – a passport photo or visa photo are supposed to be recognisable; I mean the least of all you should be able to see it’s the same person on the photo and in real life. OMG.
In Thailand too…
Today I’m the proud owner of one of these photos myself. I was out getting a photo for my ED-visa; as it turns out I won’t be needing it now though…
“If you have the opportunity, wear a shirt, or a blouse.”
Sharon, who works at the language school, gave me the advice to put on a shirt or maybe a blouse, if I had the opportunity. She showed me one of her own photos, where she was wearing a white shirt and a dark jacket. I didn’t bring any sabbaticals, obviously, but I put on the nicest thing I did bring here – a beige brownish tunic which has a simple but nice neckline so it looks more like a blouse – and set off for the photographer at Tesco Lotus, where I knew I could get passport & visa photos.
“Would you like something like this?”
He showed me an album containing photoshop files – SHIRTS & JACKETS in different colours and shapes. Did I want something like that? ”Isn’t this good enough?” I asked cheekily and he nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders. ”Up to you”. Yes, the classical Thai answer. Not the least bit annoying since everything happening both outside and inside my life is up to me, obviously. I looked at the different styles and decided: why not? A red shirt with enormously large lapels and a dark jacket. It would be so catchy and fancy.
I looked like a baby…
When I went to pick up the photos, the shirt and the jacket weren’t the only things retouched in the photo. All of my small pimples were gone, I didn’t really have any wrinkles (I certainly don’t IRL either, youthful as I am), the skin so smooth and slightly brighter. Amazing. You can see it’s me, but still. I absolutely can’t understand this Asian thing about retouching passport and visa photos. Not the slightest.
NOTE: I say Asian thing, I don’t actually know if this really is an Asian thing. I’ve experienced this in 2 countries here in Asia so far. I might be generalising!