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26 July 2009



I will bet, right now, five bottles of Yeni Raki (or the equivalent in the beverage of your choice) that this is too subtle to be understood by the intended audience.

Ms. C

ne demek! This time around, I found that a thorough knowledge of (and feigned appreciation for) BOTH The Curious Case of Benjamin Button AND Pearl Harbor (the film with whats-his-face and Aerosmith-daughter, not the event) greased the wheels quite nicely. Wish I was kidding. Turkish friend insists the exhaustive and most earnest interrogation about Benjamin Button was to make sure I am not employed as a prostitute. Mwahaha! Fooled them!


Ah yes, I too was led on by promises of an orderly e-rendezvous system, both by y'all and my former neighbors who also sang its praises. I went in on Wednesday, only to find that all the numbers were taken. Old story. So I went back the next morning taking the first boat I could to Eminönü to get there as early as possible. It was around 7:30. There was of course an already large crowd assembled. While refusing to sign anyone else in, they began calling out names of the people they had already registered and returning their passports. Finally our own group got through; one rather generic Eastern European woman got so ticked off (kind of early to be getting ticked off in view of what is to come, don't you think?) that she nearly got hauled off for screaming at a police officer who had nothing to do with her. Finally I got in and this time, did bet a number. It was 276. He-who-distributes-numbers told me to be back at the office at 1:00 sharp. "Okay, the computer system's down but at least they're working on a system, it's better than before" I thought. After killing some time at a nearby mall where it was at least cool, I went back to the waiting room. The number being served was 142. Oh good, only 134 people to go! About 4:10 my number came up. The policeman at the window was characteristically polite and friendly (I've never had anything but polite treatment there). Finally the paperwork was done...the charge was around 600 (I guess your friend who paid 770 was getting her first booklet?). And of course the cashier had closed at 3:30. Now someone who did not live in Turkey might ask, "Why would they close the casher at 3:30 when the general office works until 5:00, and payments need to be made?" Yes, he or she might ask, the same way one might ask about some obscure oddity of English grammar. There is probably some "reason" but even if you learn it, it won't change the simple fact that "It's just that way." So...back the next day to pay the fee, and of course, once more to get the booklet back. Four visits is my new record, do I get a prize? At least I got the booklet back within one working day instead of the week it used to take. Still, if you've ever dealt with the Aliens' Bureau in our closest neighbor to the west, and seen the 1) utter chaos (Residence permits are sometimes issued a week or two before their expiration dates. Or after.) and 2) draconian requirements (24,000 Euros in the bank, more than many, many Greeks make in a year), you have to admit that we still have it pretty darn good.

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