(written June 2004)
The morning dawned grey and wet. T. and I left our flat in Üsküdar, on the Asian side of İstanbul and headed out for the ferry to cross over to Eminönü on the European side. From thence we proceeded on the tramvay up to Yusuf Paşa and then walked some 400 metres across to the Metro station (Underground) to travel up one stop up to Emniyet – the main Police Station in İstanbul.
Today was the day we went to apply for T’s residence permit.
As I had done the process back in March, we had a rough idea how to go about it. Well, very rough. We went to what I believed was the starting place only to be told to go another desk.
We went there – but no one was there.
The policeman finally came and told us to fill in a form and have a dilekçe (official request) written and then come back to him.
And so off we went, down a floor, queued up, and had the dilekçe written and the form filled in. Back we went, but he wasn’t there, again.
After waiting a bit, we went off to where we tried to begin in the first place. This time he took the forms and looked things over. He spotted something missing, a photocopy of a page from T’s passport, so off I ran to do that, again on another floor.
On return, the man was happy and we were sent to the next desk – the archive. Off we went and joined the queue – this is a building full of queues. When our turn came, the chap took our details and went off to find T’s record.
He couldn’t find it.
He looked under “D” for her English first name and “M” for her English surname – in that order. Finally he sent us off to another office to search for her electronic record.
In this office the man went to the computer and found a record for her – complete with her nickname “T”. And he found my record, complete with my nickname “O” and “Y” for my assumed Turkish surname. But no record of her residence permit. Puzzling.
So back we went to the first archive room. There, they accepted that they couldn’t find it and entered her details in the computer and sent us to the next desk.
There we joined another queue.
Now this was a fundamentally confused queue as it was one queue, but people were actually queuing for two different windows – my dilemma: when was it right to go in front of someone (they being in the queue for the window I wasn’t going to) and when was it wrong to do so…
Finally we got to the head of the queue – and the man was busy with something, so we waited.
Finally he took our papers and asked where her former residence permit number was.
“Couldn’t be found,” replied I.
“Not good enough,” he muttered. “I’ll go look in the basement,” said he, and off he went.
I don’t think we were the most popular people there as my queue watched the man get up and leave the room.
He came back from the basement having found my file (it didn’t take him long either) and he said we had lovely children. He also declared that back then we were all on one residence permit – and hence they couldn’t find a separate number for her. That explained that.
So he carried on his work. As he processed the paper work – it was discovered that I needed to photocopy some pages from my residence permit AND it was also time to pay for the visa.
So off we went, T. to get some cash, me to get some photocopies and then to queue up and pay the 680,000,000 TRL – yes, in those days it cost us six hundred and eighty million Turkish Lira! The one and only time in our lives that we were millionaires.
This done we returned to the last man we saw because he needed the photocopy – but when we got there, he was busy.
So we waited.
He took the papers, completed his work and sent us to another window to pay for the residence permit booklet.
Off we went, queued and in the fullness of time, paid for that, and then joined yet another queue to get it all recorded in the registry – a very, very big book.
So we waited again.
When we got to the head of that queue, we handed in our papers and he filled in the book and gave us a slip, informing us to return in three working days to pick up the residence permit.
All in all it was a full, tiring and in some ways, demanding day. It was marked with a lot of waiting, a lot of fixing things that were wrong (missing photocopies, dates on documents, spelling of names), a lot of being in crowded corridors, a lot of standing, and a lot of queueing.
Not my idea of an ideal or pleasant day – but it had to be done.
It is days like these that I appreciate the ‘Fruit of the Spirit of God’ which include: long-suffering, patience, endurance, love, joy and maybe most important of all, peace.
It is in practical activities of life, such as this, that our Faith, our New Life in Christ have an opportunity to shine and be light and be salt in this world.
The Fruit of the Spirit enables this to be a good day.