A lovely spring morning (full blown summer has retreated for now, to its kennel, growling) and by ten I was on my way to the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria, sweeping effortlessly on the Gautrain through Midrand and Centurion before dropping into Pretoria, then out again and round in a great arc to Hatfield. In 35 minutes I was there, the glimpses of cars and trucks fastened like locusts on the highways ample reason to say, this brand new high-speed rail link is going to change lives, not just traffic! Plenty of other people seemed to think so, too – at lunch time, particularly, on my way home again, there were lots of young people, students probably, and I thought, one of the unexpected benefits is that the train may allow students living in Pretoria to attend university in Johannesburg, and vice versa.
Anyway, by 10.45 I was standing in the hot little queue, outside in the street, waiting for the one-hour slot that the High Commission allows for the whole world to come and collect their visas – allowed in one at a time, like convicts, through a cramped and uninviting guardhouse. Well, what matter – as Rob says, I am being given permanent residence, after all, and by 11.30, sharp, I had my immigrant visa in my hand, and a package of official documentation, telling me what I need to do when I land in December at Pearson.
I will be interviewed on arrival, there will be forms to sign – and until I have satisfactorily completed these requirements, I remain a man with a visa, not, as yet, technically and legally speaking, a permanent resident. Hopefully, though, these are all formalities – and to have the immigrant visa approved, finally, and be good to go – well that is a life-changing thought, and one which ran over and over through my mind as I sat on the train, swooping over the suburbs and scraggy patches of countryside, back to Johannesburg, with my prize in hand.
I picked up my car at Rosebank Station and nosed out into the traffic again. On the way home I stopped off at the Fisherman’s Deli, in Dunkeld, and bought two red, thick, fresh slices of tuna, then I picked up some artichokes, asparagus, limes, mushrooms, at Dunkeld Fruiterers. And some flowers – South African protea.
Rob and I will be having a little celebration tonight. I have a bottle of Malivoire Pinot Noir, from the Niagara Escarpment, in Canada, waiting.