Since I made my first overseas trip at age 19, I have always had a valid passport. My reasoning is that the expense is justified by the ability to travel at a moment’s notice. The reality though is that I’ve never had to do any such thing. My travel has always been planned and looked forward to for many months. Now that we live in Malaysia and our children live in New Zealand, my passport feels like a talisman – it means that I can see the girls within half a day if I want to. Imagine then how disconcerted I felt when, last week, our passports were kept for three days by a Malaysian immigration official in order to insert our permits – a work permit for Jim and a ‘dependant’s pass’ for me – and my relief when I got my passport back yesterday. Having it back almost makes up for being called a ‘dependant’, with a ‘pass’ (ironic – some might say, poetically just – for a former white South African!) that strictly prohibits ‘any form of employment’.