“One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The great Eye is ever watchful.”
When Tolkien wrote this I wonder if he had already had the great misfortune to attend at a Government Office in Turkey because these words have never been so true.
Before Daughter and I left Australia we had foolishly assumed that obtaining the correct residence visa was going to be a piece of cake. It would be no more than a quick trip to the Turkish Consulate in Sydney and they would welcome us with open arms. Hosgeldiniz. After that fateful first trip to the Consulate it became quite clear that this was not going to be as simple as originally thought and that the journey to residency was long and thwart with peril. In the end due to delays and the wrong paperwork Daughter and I actually entered Turkey on a tourist visa and I knew that I was now going to have to sort out the visas here. In Mersin. Turkey. Yikes!
The first time I attended at the Emniyet in Mersin I will be honest. I was nervous. I mean the Consulate in Sydney was bloody hard so I can only imagine what it was going to be like here. I had arrived the night before and was jet lagged and grumpy. This was not a good start to what was going to be a very long, very tedious day. The Turk’s brother had taken a week off work to assist with the difficulties (read that as nonsense) that is the Turkish Government and our first stop was at the Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü (Turkish National Police) so we could obtain a Residence Permit. We ran up and down stairs (why is there no lift?) in 40 degree heat (why is there no air conditioning?) and waited in queues that went down the corridor before being issued with a number(!) to be dealt with. When you are issued the number 74 your heart begins to sink and as there are no chairs available (after all there are 73 people ahead of you) I leaned against the wall, sweat pouring down my back while staring at a photograph of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is a long wait. People come and go. Smells come and go. I try in vain to translate the signs on the wall. Cay comes and goes but none is offered to the suffering hordes. I watch other, more successful, people make their way to the front of the queue. I listen to the numbers being called. So close. So very close. And then – it’s lunchtime. We are ushered out of the building. My postal levels are high but watching The Turk’s brother I can see that he is also becoming quite frustrated with the wait. After the lunch break I returned to my wall and started to doze when suddenly, joyously, our number is called. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord or Allah or whatever! My brother in law fought his way to the front of the counter where a heavily moustached, non-smiling government employee, glanced at the papers before handing them back. We are missing a document. Come again.
It took me four trips to obtain my Yabancilara Mahsus Ikamet Tezkeresi or Residence Permit for Foreigners. I think that this is probably quite straight forward normally but as The Turk was not with us it made completing the documentation exponentially difficult. I cursed The Turk a lot those first few days.
As a resident of Turkey I also needed to obtain a Kimlik number. As a foreigner I am not eligible for a TC Kimlik and instead I obtained a Yabanci Kimlik No. Pretty much the same thing but we are identified with the number “99” as the first two digits. Getting a Yabancı kimlik No. is actually pretty easy because you do it online and any excuse to not walk into a Turkish Government office is a win-win in my mind.
Fast forward a few months and The Turk reminded me that I still needed to get my citizenship finalised (which was lodged the previous September). Foreigner’s can become Turkish citizens if they jump through a number of ridiculously difficult hoops but being a Turkish citizen does mean that I no longer need to fluff around with visas and various other benefits as a long term resident.
After a tedious number of hours at the Emniyet we finally received the news that my application was now held by the Nufus Office or also known by other poor yabancı as Mordor, which is well known by all as a treacherous journey, full of peril all in an attempt to retrieve ‘my precious’ also known as my kimlik card. The Turk and I have attended this office so many times over the past week that the polis remember us and let us through without going through the metal detectors or standing in the queues. We have attended this office so many times that the employees recognise us “Yabancı” (a most hated word) and “Al Pacino” (Good Lord!). We have attended this office so many times that when the documents were finally stamped there was a united cheer and a lot of handshaking and congratulations from staff who proudly told us that in “six months or so” I will have my official kimlik card! Six months! Wow! They did mention to us that there would be a polis check and, of course, that other well known yabancı terror known as the Interview but then it should be smooth sailing.
As I write this I feel a sense of forboding akin to Frodo before he started on his great journey:
Aragorn: Are you frightened?
Aragon: Not nearly frightened enough. I know what hunts you.
Oh incidentally Daughter’s kimlike was actually issued back in Australia but no one told us so we find ourselves now liaising with the Consulate back in Sydney in an attempt to locate it. I feel another journey coming on.
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