Friday, March 28, 2008

Yabaniclar Emniyet Subesi

So, its official. I am a Turkish resident. That is, of course, barring a freak fire at the yabanc─▒lar emniyet ┼čubesi (foreigners police branch) that could, and likely will, destroy my documentation prior to the final stamp being squashed into my new little blue booklet to be. That would be what one gets for celebrating anything before its directly in ones hands--well, in this country, at least.

My lovely flatmate Rana and I left the house this morning for what was described by countless numbers of my contemporaries--foreigners in Istanbul--as an experience akin to a walk through the lower levels of Dante's Inferno. Though less poetic, for certain.

We boarded the tram headed toward the airport at about 7:30. We'd been warned to be early. Tardiness resulting in complete futility, and the promise of a repeat trip that way the following day. Actually, it was described that I would spend no less than 5 hours in the office, shuffling back and forth between counter after counter, having my papers stamped, reviewed, restamped, rereviewed, torn up, the pieces taped back together and stamped again. Not surprisingly, I wasn't much looking forward to this little jaunt through Turkish bureaucracy. But hey, this is the developing world, and no one can expect things to go too smoothly. So I figured, what the fuck, lets laugh at the Russian prostitutes and make a day of it.

We strolled into the towering gray building, not forgetting to remark on the mammoth flagpole strung with star and crescent banner. Inside, we were directed to an office/holding chamber, the walls covered with a tempting mix of grime and green paint.

"Its no wonder these fine folks are so pleasant at this hour," I suggested.

Rana agreed, and we vowed to keep a smile on our faces, despite the horrors promised us.

In total, we spent less than an hour in the office. We were first in line, and had quite a smiley young girl putting my paperwork through. The questions were minimal after passing the front door--mostly along the lines of, "Got enough money?" etc. We met a man from Afghanistan who could speak neither Turkish nor English, though who insisted on asking me questions about his photographs after learning that I was an American. I don't know why I still admit to being an American. I can, apparently, pass for English, and I should learn that, when it comes to citizens of countries we've invaded in the past decade, maybe I should do just that. But I digress.

Despite the distinct suspicion that he was a horse thief, I kindly, in several languages, assured him that he had enough passport sized photographs. I don't think he understood, and I pretended to have lost my hearing.

650 YTL (502 USD) later, all necessary stamps were in their places, and I was told to return in one week, or later. Which either means that I can pick it up any time after a week, or the paperwork might be finished in a week, or it might be later. Turkish is a lovely language, I assure.

So that was it. An hour. In, paid, out and on my way. I messaged a friend upon completion and died laughing at her response.

Jesus, can you turn salt into coke too?!

Record setting day for sure. We'll see what pick-up day brings. Until then, I'll be celebrating my impossible good fortune.