I currently have a two tier problem here in Mersin. My second problem stems from my first problem not being finalised.
When The Turk arrived in Mersin late last year we immediately lodged documentation pertaining to my citizenship application. There was a lot of trips to various Government offices, more perilous than trekking across the Sahara Desert or more difficult than reaching the summit of Everest. There was a lot of paperwork including – current passport (easy), medical certificate (bir şey olmaz – no problem), 4 passport photos (heads up peeps you should always have at least a dozen passport photos on hand – you will go through them like tissues), completed application (done), marriage certificate (translated into Turkish of course), confirmation of residency (hello I am here thus I am a resident) and the doozy – Certificate of ability to speak Turkish (WHAT????). That last one I thought we had gotten away with as The Turk and I had been called in for an interview at the Emniyet a couple of weeks after lodgment of the documents. The interviewer asked a few very simple questions and I answered with a yes or no (evet / yok). I was then fingerprinted, they did a police check (they never did find out about that international jewel heist I was involved with – shush) and they arrived unannounced at our home to ensure that The Turk and I were in a real relationship. They found me sitting out the front on the road in my pajamas waiting for My Hurley Dog to do a poop. You don’t get any more real than that folks!
Fast forward to last week and I began hassling The Turk that we should chase up my citizenship before he disappears to Sydney next month. Good idea! We arrived at the Emniyet to find that nothing had been done to move my application forward since last December! WTF??? Which brings me to my next problem – the expiration of my residency visa but I am jumping ahead of myself here. Bir dakika (one minute).
This morning The Turk got a call from the Polis requiring my immediate attendance at their office in Yumuktepe. Incidentally I had been to the suburb of Yumuktepe before as there is a ruin mound there and as a lover of history I wanted to get a gander at it. This mound reveals a Neolithic settlement which continued up to the Middle Ages. Like the Gözlükule Tumulus in Tarsus this one is located in a park and there really is nota lot to see however it has 23 levels of occupation dating from 6300BC which, for the geek in me, is really interesting! I know I have gotten off topic but as a history buff this is really interesting stuff!
Anyway The Turk and I jumped and after I directed the taksi driver as he had no clue where to go we made it to the meeting out of breath and sweating. I assumed that this was the final formality to approve my citizenship. I did not know what it would be but I bet it was going to be simple. Nope. It was THE INTERVIEW.
I think this post should actually be re-named The Interview From Hell because that is what it was. I was seated in a room underneath the Polis station where I could clearly see straight into the cells. As I waited for the interviewer to arrive I curiously scoped out the two people in the cells opposite. There was the buxom blonde with waaayyy too much makeup directly opposite me as well as another man to her left who was babbling loudly in a language that was not Turkish but I could not tell you what language it was or even if it was a language. The woman, we found out, was Russian and had overstayed her visa. Gulp!
The Turk was asked to wait outside and the interviewer proceeded to ask me a butt load of questions – in Turkish – and then write copious amounts of notes when I could not answer the question correctly. Tears! I was welling up and had never wanted The Turk beside me more than I did at that moment. For those of you who are going to go through this in the coming months the questions were pretty much the following:
Where do you live? I don’t know the address but I know how to get there. I know which dolmus. I can explain it to a taksi driver but right now, with you staring at me like I should be in a cell next to the Russian I cannot answer you and certainly I cannot answer you in Turkish.
Where do you like to go in Mersin (insert your own city or town here)? Ummm? Ne???
How is your mother and father? ölü.
Do you have any brothers or sisters? If so how many? Do you like your brother or sister? Jeeze how would I explain the crazy that is my family? Is adoption even a word in Turkish? Regardless I cannot answer with the Russian smiling a gummy smile at me through bright pink lips. Pass.
Does your husband (or wife) have any brothers or sisters? If so, how many? Yes but I truly had no idea what you were saying. Pass.
How is his mother and father? Pass. His father doesn’t like my cooking. In English.
Do you like living in Mersin? Evet.
How old are you? 44 (using my hands).
How long have you been married? On iki yil (that one I had).
Do you have any children? Evet. Bir. (I am acing this part of the interview).
How many bedrooms in your house? Huh? Oh yes I know this one – üç.
What is your address in (enter your place of birth or last known residence)? I wrote this as he shook his head in mirth at my attempted answer.
Each of these questions were mixed up so he would ask me a question about my family and then asked how many bedrooms we had in our house. My brain was still trying to translate the last answer when the next question was being shot at me. It was horrendeous. It was the Inquisition. In fact that should be the name of this post The Inquisition!
I failed. Miserably.
The interviewer was basically laughing. The Russian visa over-stayer with too much makeup was watching me from her cell and she was laughing. She said something in Turkish (much better than me of course) and the interviewer shushed her. The other man in the cell opposite was giggling but I feel this was more in reply to the dust bunny in the corner of his cell.
This was a disaster.
The Interviewer called The Turk into the room and said that I would have another interview with the Vali (Governor) in 4 weeks. Hold on! The Turk is leaving for Australia in 3 weeks! Can we have it before he leaves? No.
Feck My Life!
In the interim my residency visa has now expired and I have a mere 15 days before I have to either renew or leave the country. This was the second part of my problem.
The residency requirements have changed in the past year. Most people (including myself) was well aware of the changes but to be honest I did not think I would still be waiting for my citizenship 10 months down the track so did not look into the visa issue. Now it was pressing and I am swiftly running out of time. Needed for my residency application was the following – translated copy of passport (jeeze really?), valid health insurance for the length of my residency (1 year approximately 1000TL), five passport photos (told you to keep them handy), proof of address (more difficult than you would think as I do not have any correspondence that gives my address and the Nufus will not include me in their documents until I have a kimlik which of course I cannot get until I get citizenship – the epitome of a vicious circle), copy of your tapu or your residential agreement, bank statement ensuring that you have enough funds to cover your stay and your tax number. Easy right? Ummm . . .
I did not even have a Turkish bank account! So after spending the next 3 days running around and not having a breakdown after the Spanish Inquisition took place today I hope to be applying for a further 12 month residency visa tomorrow.
If they give me any grief there is a small possibility that I will go postal. Keep an eye out on your local news channel. If they start talking about an Australian going crazy in Mersin, well, that will be me!