The Inquisition

I currently have a two tier problem here in Mersin.  My second problem stems from my first problem not being finalised.

Welcome

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!

26 thoughts on “The Inquisition

  1. I am shaking my head over here. I have a similar story for my temporary residence status in Mexico. Everytime, I go to write it – I break out into a sweat and stop. I cannot relive the horror.

    One day…one day… You are a brave woman.! Good luck 🙂

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  2. Oh the memories…..

    Thankfully I had to only take two 6m extensions to get through the ‘process’. The local polis were fine (but required a printer to be bought for their room to make it ‘all happen in less than 3 years’).

    The home visit was Jandarma of course out here, and that was 11pm on a Monday night, sat on the balcony for 40 minutes with 8 (yes 8) of them with semi-automatics). We live on a dirt track with no exit, so 3 of the neighbouring farmers came to investigate why Jandarma had arrived (then stayed to watch)

    That was followed 2 months later by an interview with the Deputy Vali, the Provincial Head of Yabancı Polis, and 2 other bureaucrats who wanted a laugh. They say stress beats dieting…. confirmed.

    That was a few years ago, thankfully….

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  3. We applied for an extension of our residency this week. It wasn’t a lot of hassle. It involved a full day of running round to get the paperwork together (I used to be a secretary, I filed it all neatly in a pembe dosya), One hour waiting in the Emniyet and one hour with the nice Polis (whose English has greatly improved since we first applied three years ago). But then, we live in Izmir province…..

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  4. My heart was pounding as I read this post! Oh my gosh. My fiancé and I are going to begin the marriage license/application/audition on Monday. I really hope it’s not like this…but it probably will be. Btw where in Mersin do you go for passport photos? I attempted to get some here in NY (I need 10 in order to get married. whatever), but at $6 PER PICTURE, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I hope we can find a place that will process them quickly.

    Btw, I have actually heard similar Inquisition stories and the women in question got their citizenship despite their Turkish skills (or lack thereof). If you need help with the bank account stuff, email me. I may know someone who can help.

    Good luck!!

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    • Near the nufus office in carsi there are literally hundreds but go to the little old guy on the corner. I swear he is a genius or something. My photo was sensational! Even The Turk cane out looking like a movie star. I think they were 20tl.

      You can also get them across from the eminyet. In fact you will have no probs getting them done. It’s a popular pastime.

      Got my bank account opened, transferred sufficient funds (which dried me out) and today, fingers crossed, it will be no more than 10 minutes in eminyet. Lodge and go.

      Fingers crossed.

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  5. Oh Jane! This brings back familiar anxiety, just as others gave shared. Only gorgeous me, I got the run around when I returned to the USA!

    I stayed with a friend “temporarily”- just until I could get myself legal, I said.

    But… I couldn’t rent my own place without a driver’s license, yet I couldn’t get a driver’s license without proof of address. As far as the motor vehicle dept was concerned, I did not exist until I could prove it! It took me two years to get that straightened out.

    I wish you all the Best!

    Jonelle

    Every time I have to go back, it brings me to tears. Oh my!

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  6. Poor you, I feel your pain. I was one of the lucky ones who automatically got nationality the day after I got married. But I too will have to enter this beaurocratic maze later in the year when I attempt to get 6 month residency for my 88 yr old mother.

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  7. I applied for Turkish citizenship in the States before we left to move here. Theoretically, and I stress the theoretical aspect of this, my interview was done at the Consulate the day we applied. Actually my other half was questioned; I just sat there and stared out the window and smiled sheepishly and said “tesekkuler” at the end of it all. My papers are now floating in the abyss that is the Turkish beauracacy. Meanwhile, I’m here on a regular tourist visa planning to inquire about some sort of residency until something happens with the citizenship. Let the clusterf***ery begin.

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  8. What an absolute pain in the ass! I hope the residence application goes ok ;). BtW I also love the photos here. The one I go to in Denizli always photoshops my pictures. They probably look at me, then my permit, and think it’s two different people!!

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  9. Where you not offered Turkish citizenship when you got married? I have been married just over 11 years and got married just before the law changed with regard to taking up citizenship, I was offered it and took it – got my Id card without having to do anything – apart from marry the hubby of course!!

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    • I was offered nothing but that is because The Turk and I didn’t register in Turkey. Pure laziness on our part and now my brain is fried with the attempts to learn a language that baffles me!

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      • After 3 years of living here I’m still doing my ‘pigeon’ Turkish!! I think I bluff my way through most conversations so would be absolutely useless in a test and probably stuff I do know I probably wouldn’t in those conditions!! It certainly baffles me too I find it hard trying to keep up with conversations that my children are having!!

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  10. Pingback: My Precious, My Kimlik | janeyinmersin

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