Reasons to be Married No. 486: Getting a Turkish Residence Permit.

I have a good excuse for not posting for a few days: I have just completed the application for my first Turkish residence permit. Anybody who reads this blog even occasionally will know that I am a little sensitive about the pace at which I am learning Turkish, and how much help I need from Ville. I was determined that I was going to get through this process without involving him too much. So two days after taking the last vapur home and getting the kids to bed at 2 am in order to pick up Ruskin, and three days after our journey from Finland, I set off for a day of accumulating the documentation I needed. I won't bore you with descriptions of heat and frustration, but I have to share my favourite moment of the day. One of the things I needed was translations of the children's birth certificates. I paid 40 lira to a translator before going to a notary to have them certified. I went up to the desk and had each document stamped loudly twice without more than a passing glance. I then went into the notary's office to have a signature scrawled on each one. It took two minutes and cost 137 lira. All respect to the man though, he saw me baby-wearing Neve and got out a lovely picture of him carrying his grand-son (who lives in the UK) in a Baby Bjorn. I was impressed. He also practised the four phrases of English that he knew on Anton. Definitely the right person to certify the certificates! The other stand-out moment was thinking I was done and then realising I had lost the required passport pictures of Anton and Neve (thank goodness not mine, I was not keen to document my appearance that afternoon) and had to go through getting more. It only took 35 minutes to get an acceptable one of Anton as he walked around the studio, away from the photographer.

That evening I had another late one picking up my brother Chris. It was wonderful to sit on the top deck of the vapur with him, enjoying the views and the breeze. The next morning Ville, I and the two little ones set off for Istanbul. Ville to work, and me to the Directorate of Security (police station) on Vatan Caddesi (Fatherland Street! The street name has a ring of torture to Turkish people, because of the role of the place particularly after the 1980 military coup) for my 8.30 appointment. (Last time we passed through the intimidating security at the entrance the police found a pen-knife I had borrowed from Ruskin, and forgotten about, in my bag.) Across the top of the building, unmissable as you approach, are the words Ne Mutlu Türküm Diyene!, Ataturk's words meaning "How happy is the one who says 'I am Turk'".

It was early for Ville to go to work so he sat and drank tea for a while. As he reached the door he heard persistent ringing coming from inside. I had lasted 20 minutes before needing to ring for help. Unfortunately one of the first things the officer assigned to our case looked at was Ville's residence permit, in which his marital status is listed as 'boşanmış': divorced. It became impossible to convince anybody (and I tried several people) that he was not divorced from me, because we weren't married. Ville rushed over from Taksim and we began the long task of squeezing ourselves into the box of traditional Turkish mores. How could we not be married?  The person in charge that day told us that England and Finland are like Turkey, and people have children within marriage there too. There was no convincing her that there is a real variety of family formations. It was even, in a more helpful moment, suggested we get married quickly and then return. This all reminded me of a  Turkish medical text book Ville once saw in which a professor had written that 'once a man and woman get married secretions begin to form in the woman's vagina'.

Towards lunch-time a really decent officer, who kept trying to help against the tide, took up Ville's suggestion that we go to a notary and have a permission certified in Ville's name to allow me to live with his children in Turkey. We did some serious suspending of beliefs to get this done, there being so much at stake. After the notary we went into a esnaf lokantası (canteen) for some fortification. The proprietor walked around with Neve the whole time we ate. I felt really moved by this kindness, especially as it was very likely that he was fasting and feeling weary. We then returned for a further three hours of bureaucracy, but we came away victorious. I may not have done it alone, but we  have ensured our family is together for another year.

Neve on the morning vapur to Istanbul


The proprietor of the esnaf lokantası walking around with Neve

Ruskin, Chris and Neve

Anton, Ruskin, Chris and Neve on the boat to Bostancı

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One thoughts on “Reasons to be Married No. 486: Getting a Turkish Residence Permit.

  1. So happy to hear you'll be together for another year! I just love that first photo. Those cheeks just don't quit!! :-)


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