(written March 2006)

It had to be done.  And no one else could do it.

I was thankful that the bitterly cold wind that had spent the previous four days howling down the Bosphorous has been replaced by still sunny skies. Albeit still cool – I was no longer feeling smitten by stinging arrows of ice flung from the whirlwind of northern fury. And to think, growing up in Canada doing daily battle with the winter elements was once normal and not at all noteworthy. I guess I’m getting soft in my old age.

I gathered up what I thought was required, descended the stairs and turned left out the front door of our building. At the end of the street, I turned left again and up over the ridge and began the descent down the rather steep cobbled street. We call this the “Post Office hill” because the Post Office is at the bottom of the hill. Makes a handy landmark for people coming to our flat, although the hill is so steep as to discourage all but the truly dedicated from making the ascent.

As I neared the bottom of the hill I could hear the sounds of construction –or maybe more to the point, destruction. The Post Office was gone. Well, the function of the Post Office was gone, the building was still there, now filled with the sounds of jack hammers and workers bashing and thumping and carrying on the task of removal and demolition before beginning the restructure and renewal. Don’t know what it will be, but it will most likely look very nice when it is done.

I wonder where the Post Office has gone to…. oh well, that is not where I was heading. The task for this afternoon is far more daunting than a mere trip to the Post Office.

I turned right past the former Post Office, a bit furtively, for as I went by, the crashing bits of debris were falling against the glass of the main window. At any moment I expected the glass to give way in an avalanche of glass and broken bits of masonry  inundating the street and entrapping any unfortunate who at the moment would be attempting to cross in front. Thankfully, now was not the time, although I dare say it was not far off.

Up to the corner, first door on the right, up some narrow stairs, nicely finished in marble and into the office of the Noter (Notary Public), a crowded, grimy little room. The ceiling seemed low and the room was full of people sitting on chairs waiting and groups of people clustered at a long high table. On the opposite side of the table, ladies at computers and typewriters were preparing a vast range of documents. Almost everything, it seems, requires something to be notarized.

“Where do I start?”
“Where is the end of the queue?”
“Is there a queue?”
“What do I do?”

Aghh… is my feeling.

I move to the table and wait near one of the ladies. People leave, people come, some move in front of me. I really don’t know how this works….

Finally a lady bellows “next in line…”

“Uh, what line?” I query. She looks disdainfully at me.

But as there wasn’t a rush of people to the spot in front of her, I moved over.

She ordered her papers on her desk and did other tasks for which I couldn’t determine any function and then she finally turned to me….

“I need to make a Power of Attorney,” I began, holding out the sample I had brought with me…

She snatched the paper from my hand, glanced at it and barked, “”Are you giving the Power of Attorney, or the company?””

“Me…” spoken hesitantly as the question seemed rather pointless – how could the company be giving me a Power of Attorney – but my hesitation was enough… and there quickly following a barrage of questions in abrupt succession ending with a demand to see my ID.

Well, that did it. A foreign passport – no, no, no, this was not going to do. I would need it translated (by an official Translator, and no doubt notarized) before I could progress this any further.

“Go see the lady over there” she said, gesturing towards a rather large cluster of people. Somewhere beyond the hunched shoulders of middle aged men, there must be somebody who would be able to shed light on my dilemma.

My heart sank as I made my way towards the knot of men, and not really knowing who it was that I was supposed to talk to. I stuffed my papers back in my pocket and slunk out the door and down the narrow stairs to the peace and tranquility of the street.

Peace and tranquility of the street ?!?

Back I passed by the former Post Office, bits of debris continuously raining down, clattering against the glass,– any time now it will explode outwards I thought.  In the next block was another Noter. You know the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, go to a different Noter” or something like that.

I made my way gingerly up the stairs and into a room quite similar to the previous one. Clusters of people, chairs full of people, the sounds of fingers flying on keyboards. Mind you, no smoke – it seems that most official offices are smoke-free now. That’s nice.

Still I didn’t know where to start, so I shuffled up to the desk and the lady looked up, I said what I wanted and showed her my dreaded foreign passport, gasp.

She said, “”Go talk to the lady in the corner.””

Now, I didn’t know who that was, but there were only two ladies in the corner, so I had a 50-50 chance. I got it right on the second try.

She asked if I had a Residence Permit to which I replied I did, and she said that I could do the Power of Attorney with that (and no need to get my passport officially translated and notarized).

Great !

Except I didn’t leave the house with my residence permit. So, thanking her, I left the office and made my way back up the hill to the flat, back up to the top of the building (no lift in case you are wondering), picked up the residence permit and back down the hill to the Noter.

Well, my doctor told I needed more exercise.

She took the papers, told me sit down – which I would have done if there had been any empty chairs. So I leaned against the wall and commenced the main occupation of people in a Notary Public’s office, –waiting.

And I had ample opportunity to practice the art of waiting. After a while a chair came free, so that eased the task somewhat.

“Should have brought a book” I mused. Could have written a book.

In the end, the crowds lessened, and then the lady held out my papers (when did she do my paperwork?). Then she told me to go to one of the ladies behind the desk who would now commence to do it. My task far from being finished, was just now beginning.

I had a sample Power of Attorney, with just one change, a date. She looked at it,– it was rather long. And then she took a pair of scissors and cut the offending date out. She then photocopied the page, put the photocopied page in a typewriter and typed in the new date.

Much faster and easier than retyping the whole thing out.

Filled in, off to the Notary Public himself, well, after waiting a bit. He signed the front. Turned the paper over read the text and then asked to see my ID. He knew enough that my English given name is more often than not abbreviated from the long to the short form, and so had to make sure it was done legally and correctly. Alas, I was given only the short form at birth, so my short form given name was accepted.

With that confirmed, he signed again and gave me the papers. Off to the lady I started with, who did something or other, then to the last lady to whom I paid the fee.

Half a day, and one aspect of trying to import our boxes of “keepsakes” into the country done, and yet the task barely begun.

Next week promises to be equally exciting. Monday we are off to the main Police building in Istanbul and begin the process of applying for an extension of our residence permit AND then I need to take the Power of Attorney, done today, to the agent who is importing our boxes.

Things change, – activities come and go, –the Post Office moves (but the function of Post Office carries on – somewhere),– tasks have to be done; some are pleasant, some are not. But in it all and through it all and in spite of it all, our God remains our faithful solid rock; come what may, all changes notwithstanding; He is our solace, source and shield – in all we do.

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