Last stretch to the permit

June 13, 2014

Monday June 9

up early, today there is much to do. I get to Chillout at 8. It’s a quiet morning, no one is up, the hostel, quiet starship cruising gently as Istanbul slowly awakens. I get things ready in the kitchen then sit with Talat and we talk about all sorts of things in the gentleness of this young born day.

I know there will be much to do later so I savor this time. We have a group from Holland who have breakfast at the hostel, so they will keep me busy later. But what is really on my mind though, are the last steps towards this residence permit application. As you know it has been incredibly convoluted just to learn what was actually needed. With new rules being implemented differently in each district, massive confusion and at times panic surrounds this procedure everywhere I hear of it. I heard of a few who failed to renew and have to leave for 3 months in order to be able to be here again.

Yesterday two very important steps were achieved. First, the heath insurance, then the rental agreement. Two things that seem simple but required so many attempts, phone calls, varying stories, unsuccessful tries and the ups and downs these caused. I persevered. A few days before I became completely at peace with the whole process. I stopped fighting. I figured that since I am really trying everything possible, what happens will be what must happen and I finally let the static and the nerves drop.

I had to go get money to pay for the insurance premium in a bank machine. I decided to pay it with a credit card and pay it back as soon as any money comes in. I first go to the machine and since I so rarely use these, I found myself looking at the keyboard dumbfounded when I was requested to write my PIN number. I came back to me that there are no letters on the Turkish bank machine keyboards.. my Canadian PIN numbers I recall by letters… So I shrugged and thought, “of course this simple thing could not just be simple” I walked back to Chillout checked my Skype keyboard and figured out what numbers the letters correspond to and walked back to the bank machine. It worked.

The Insurance company was to send a representative to the hostel to pick up the money and hand me the papers around 1 PM. At 10 something AM he shows up. I have 1700 lira in my hands ($850). It feels like a gigantic fortune in my hands. I realize that I have not touched so much money in a very long time. I live with anything from 50 to 100 lira a week. ($25 to $50) this seems so non-sensical… so much money for something I will likely never use. All these bits of paper in my hands the whole machine they imply… I count them 2, 3 times. Yes, it’s the right amount. I hand it to the man who counts them again. Pelin is right there and I am very thankful for it as it’s all taking place in Turkish, fast and business like. I only catch bits and pieces. I realize how much I am literally disabled. Yes, without help it would be like walking in a thick fog in the night. Crossing your fingers hoping everyone is honest.

He gives me a fancy folder with two copies of the policy. Hands shaken and he’s gone. Wow… I look at Pelin. We did it! “Step one” I said.

Step two is about getting a notarized rental agreement. Pelin comes with me. We go to her flat to get her rental contract. Then back to Istiklal. We go up 3 flights of marble steps into an notary public office, absolutely looking as if right out of the 50’s.

“Buyrun?”

Within about 15 minutes it’s all done. Gulp. Wow. “Step two” I said. this is almost too easy… but that would be ignoring the three past attempts to get this done one way or another.

Step three, is about showing a big balance in a Turkish bank account, money to live on for a year. I have been making money transfers since last week, bit by bit, but they tell you it can take up to 5 business days to get the money transferred. I go to the bank, take a number, wait and wait and wait… almost 45 minutes… there is a strange numbering system, I learned later that people can use their credit cards to get their numbers and this way get ahead in the queue…. not very democratic… so I see a number of people who got there way after I did, getting helped before I do. Patience. I take a deep breath and relax. Finally my number comes up… “benim defteri yaz…” I don’t know how to say this… but Serhat bey gets my drift and prints my bank book. Balance: 0.00

Hmmm… all right. Step three isn’t going to happen today… there is always tomorrow.

Tuesday June 10

Up early again. Today is THE day. June 10th… I am actually 2 days late from the “10 days” I was given when I could not get all the paperwork on my May 29th appointment. Step three needs to happen. While thinking about all this, it dawned on my that when I went to the bank in Istanbul, it was 4 AM in Canada. So that means that there is a chance still that some money arrived on Monday. It’s a busy morning, up and down the stairs I go. At 11:15 Pelin tells me “You can go to the bank…” but something happens upstairs and she has to go fix it, she asks me to stay at reception while she goes up. Yeah, no problem. I am thinking: “the police will be closed from 12 to 13:30. I can just go to the bank at 12 when I’m finished working and after that go to the police station. So as I am taking it easy cleaning the last dishes downstairs Pelin comes and tells me:

“It’s 11:45, you should go to the bank…”

“They close for lunch?”

“Yes.”

I dropped everything and grabbed my bag and gallopped down to Galata, I must have made it in about 4.5 minutes.

Serhat bey is there, he asks me if I ran, I said yes. He prints my bank book. Paraniz var mi? Param var! I don’t have my glasses but I see that it’s not zeroes. I thank them and run back up the hill to Chillout. I see Pelin:

“There is money.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know, don’t have my glasses.” We laugh.

I get the glasses and look. Param var! There is only a little bit more needed. Pelin loans me the amount needed. I will go back to the bank at 13:30 and deposit that, then get the paper for the police. We’re on track.

In the mean time, I check all my documents, all is there. I get a little plastic sleeve and organize everything so I am not fumbling around at the police station. I message Mahir. “I will go to polis around 2, wanna see things unfold?” he says yes a few minutes later. He has been through so much of this, he should be there.

Round two at the bank, I go back I deposit the cash, get the book updated. Ask in my dire Turkish about “paper for Hikamet… polis…” He gets me and says:

Go to the 2nd floor and ask for Uğur bey.

“Uğur bey” I repeat.

I go up, but there are half floors… and on what seems like the second floor there is a sign on the door that says something to the fact that this is for employees only… so I end up on the third floor, being thoroughly ignored as I walked in an office. One man walks in…

“Buyrun?” He asks

“Uğur bey?”

“ikinci kat, blah blah, aşada… blah, blah…”

Hmmm I think… iki is two… yes, it is… “Ikinci kat mi?”

“Evet”

OK… second floor… I go down… cannot find.. the only door is this “employees only door” I go back up… confused… I go back to this man.

“çok pardon, anlamadım, ikinci kat ofis nerde?” (I”m very sorry… I didn’t understand, the second floor office where is it?) he walked me to the door that said “employees only”

in there, it is a vast space with only two people. It is so quiet, there is a man and a woman. The man looks up looking almost annoyed… I launched bravely in my bad Turkish.

“Polis kağıt istiyorum, hikamet için…” he looks at me puzzled. The woman got it, she goes and looks at the printer there, picks up a form and asks me if I am Danielle Hebert, I say yes and then the process is underway. Uğur bey signs, stamps and does what office people do and finally hands me the form.

He says that now I have to see Barış bey on the first floor, çok teşekkur ederim, I thank them and walk back down, Sehat bey is looking at me, I say Barış bey nerde? He points to the man at the desk. Barış bey is a smiley fellow. I think they get a kick out of watching me try to speak Turkish and going through these motions clumsily. He gestures for me to come in, “otur!” “sit” he offers pointing at a chair. He signs the paper and suddenly I realize that step 3 is done.

I run back up to Chillout. I have the money paper, the rent paper and the insurance papers. I have photocopies, photos, form. I have everything. Mahir is there. We head out for the moment of truth at the police station. There, we immediately get to the counter, no one there yet. Luck is with us. A few people walk in after us and they have to wait in line… One paper after another… I feel a bit of nervousness… then I think: “don’t be nervous. It is all perfect. No matter what the result is. Mahir acts as my translator, guardian angel. They speak, I didn’t get much… we go out.

“Now we have to go to the tax office and the other office on Istiklal, to pay more money. We head up to Istiklal, hop on the running tram, laughing as we scared a tourist who was standing there when we appeared out of nowhere. They took pictures of us, and pictures with us, hanging outside the gate. At the tax office, it is up to the 2nd floor. A man looks at my papers… then says “Which address?” I realize that since the beginning of this process, things having evolved as I went, there are now 3 addresses on there… uh oh… this could be trouble… well it would be in Canada… We try to play it cool, both of us, sheepishly looking at each other and kicking each other under the desk…

“oh, it’s the address on the rental agreement, which I realize I would have no idea what it is if I had to tell someone where I live. Somehow it all slides by. We grin at each other…

“Go downstairs to pay now.” the man tells us. So we go. First window. Same woman as last year. We hand her the receipt, she tells us to go to the next window, we pay the man sitting there behind the glass with exact change, which I just so happened to have, 177 lira. Teşekkur ederim! We run out of there all smiles in the mid afternoon sun.

Woo… now office number 2 on Istiklal. The Gods are with us: the tram is just about to go. We hop on in again, ride to Galata Saray… walk a bit to this other government office. Up 3 floors. To a wicket that looks again right out of the 40’s 50’s. Another 50 lira, another bit of paper.

“Güle güle!!” says the man and we climb back down the stairs and head for the last bit of bureaucracy at the police station.

Again we walk in, the coast is clear, we get to the desk, the officer has shed his police shirt for a civilian t-shirt. We hand him all the papers… more talk between him and Mahir… and we exit.

“So? ” Does it mean…? Success? Mahir looks at me, a subtle smile on his face. “Yes.” Mahir explains that it will be a month before I get a letter from Ankara with my new kimlik kartı.

we hug. Wow. … Really… you mean… OK… It’s a done deal?

“Lets go, he says…”

“Wait, wait… I have to take this in…”

I look around. The blueness of the sky, the gold of the light. The birds flying above us. My heart fills with joy. Oh my. Really… and it slowly starts to dawn on me. More and more over the next hours… bigger and bigger. I have another year. Whoa… really… I think how I should really get things together. First pay off this insurance and all the banking fees that I have accrued with these transfers… There is much I want to do. And I also want to live well. This is actually one of the things about being here: the way of life. There is no money but there is such a wealth of moments, faces, friends, sights that just fill me with joy. And I got the gift of another year.

A bit later my phone rings

“Can you play at Atolye tonight?”

“Yes, I’ll be there.”

Then I meet with Hooman one more time before he flies back to Iran. He offers me a gift. From his mother, sister, friends and all the people of Iran he says. He opens up his notebook, and there lays a hundred US dollar bill. He said something about the obstacles of life and the dreams we have. He told me how he was helped when he tried to reach his dreams and that now he could pay it forward by giving me this money. I am moved deeply. That will help me pay back this insurance thing.

Oh how the universe provides when you jump in towards what you love, what you want, what moves you. And when you are moved, the world is moved and moves… always motion, travel, head held up confidently, smile on the lips. Oh life how incredible you are.

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2 Responses to “Last stretch to the permit”

  1. kimberly Says:

    My whole body is tingling, reading this! Congratulations, dear one! I’m So Happy for you!

  2. Danielle Liard Says:

    Mission accomplie! 😀


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