Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Di's Life ...

I was at the family Sinterklaas dinner on Sunday ... Gert's parents had given the four grandchildren their Sinterklaas gifts, although the Belgian Sinterklaas and his sidekick, Zwarte Piet, officially arrive with the bulk of the gifts 6 December.

It's complicated here ... it seems that children also get more gifts from our Santa Claus on 25 December, when the adults officially gather and exchange their gifts, while celebrating with a traditional Christmas Day.

But back to the dinner on Sunday. Gert's brother had just returned from his travels; a week in Bhutan and two weeks in Lucknow, India. We were chatting, as you do, and the conversation moved on to his Guinean partner's residency application.

'Happy Christmas Di', Keleti's application took about 1 year to process ... with the process beginning in his home country! You can imagine the dark thoughts this news evoked.

I put in my residency application about 10 September, and we have heard nothing more. In celebration of this new information, I regressed to the roots of my ancestry, with dark and dire sounding Scottish/Irish curses emerging in a disturbingly Tourette's-like manner (curses ... quietly, in my mind, I'm a New Zealander after all).

So today, in an effort to be informed on the matter of the progress of my papers, I trotted off to the Council Offices; the place where it all began.

Yes, the police had checked and I am residing at the address I gave them.
And hmmm, my papers were sent to my lawyer 11 November.

Wow ... my lawyer?

But I've seen Belgian efficiency ... this seemed feasible, although how had they chosen my lawyer, and what was the cost?

Mmmm, timid soul that I be, I summoned the courage to say ... 'My lawyer?'
He said 'Yes'.
I said 'Oh', which dammit, was a give away.
He frowned, read the paper he'd found in my file and said 'Sorry', in that cute way that Dutch speakers say sorry (putting the Dutch rrrrrrrrrr in there), and said the lawyer belonged to another client, as did the letter, and of course, the paper in question shouldn't have been in my folder.

I laughed and said I'd been hellishly impressed about having a lawyer.
We laughed together.

So, back to my folder, he pulled out another letter ... it seemed that my entire folder had been sent off to Brussels (where it is rumoured that over 300,000 other residency applications reside) on 10 November.

10 November ... I asked how long my application would take.
Disturbingly, he ran his hands through his hair in that way that suggests, 'oh god, don't ask me, it's a mess over there, it might be 10 years' (not that he said that, I hasten to add), he actually said '2 months', which I think we both knew was a little lie. I had been told 2 months back in September, and now we were looking at five months in total ... I suspect 2 months is 'the' standard answer for any residency questions.

We talked of my professional card, the paper that allows me to set up my own business ... he muttered about applying for that from New Zealand, and I realised we had gone beyond his level of expertise or coping, on this grey Belgian day in a satellite suburb in Antwerpen.

He gave me some forms, we smiled and wished each other a good day.

It seems that the time has come for me to live by my pen ... food parcels would be appreciated.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Welcome to housewife land honey... Sit back and enjoy the long, long, long ride...