Life’s Like That!

Some days are good – and some are not so good! Last week we had a day that was not so good and it began at the hospital where we both had an appointment for eye tests. Now, we are paid up contributors to the state health-care system so when we booked in we had no thoughts of any glitches.

They breezed through doing the admin on J and then it was my turn – we both paled as we heard the dreaded word ‘Borç’! The system was throwing up that I had a debt, some unpaid contribution. We knew we had no debt and we had receipts going back four years to prove it but they were at home and you can’t argue with a computer. There was much huffing and puffing and attempts by staff to sort the matter over the phone – brick-wall!

So, before heading home for the receipts we decided to go to our bank and cash one of those Moneygram things that a friend in the UK had sent. Everything went swimmingly until I handed over my id card – Oh, dear! The Moneygram was addressed to Alan Fenn and my id said Alan Richard Fenn. There was no way we could possibly be the same person unless the sender changed the bloody thing to my full name! Another thing to do back home.

The second item on the agenda at the bank was to arrange for four insurance policies to all be paid in one hit as opposed to instalments which the bank was insisting could only be paid from a separate account in my name. Now I won’t bore you with details apart from saying that everything from homes to cars to bank accounts to you-name-it is in our joint names so why do we need another account in my name and why won’t they just take all the premiums in one go?  – these things can be utterly incomprehensible! Eventually the bank agreed – reluctantly -that they would let us pay in one hit. Before you mark that up as a win, just hold your horses.

I try to keep this image in mind when times are trying

We sighed, took several deep breaths and headed home. The Moneygram thing was sorted in minutes (may the gods bless social media and those who are always on it). We gathered up our receipts and headed back to town and the local social security offices. ‘Hallelujah!’ They were waiting for us and had already sorted the glitch and everything was in order. The sun had just come out on our day!

At the bank the Moneygram thing went well until the clerk said to me, eyes downcast, that the sender’s name I’d filled in was wrong. ‘It’s not Mister Frank’ he whispered. As my blood pressure surged to 160/90 and I snarled ‘Jean?’ he rapidly began redacting/editing the form muttering ‘Yes, Mister Jean!’ A few minutes later we had the cash.

Now, as we were in town, it was back to hospital to see if the eye doctor could fit us both in – she could. In no time we had our new prescriptions but were too knackered to do any more than head home and get the coffee pot on. We had had enough for one day.

Over coffee and a comfort bun I perused my prescription – it didn’t look complete so I dug out an old one and sure enough I appeared to have enjoyed a near miraculous improvement in my vision including self-correcting astigmatisms! Next morning it was back to the eye doctor and a retest that reversed the earlier miracle!

We allowed a couple of days to pass before returning to town to see the optician and the bank. The optician was a treat to deal with as we sailed smoothly through the process of lens and frame selection. The 30% discounts (which we know are a sales gimmick) made us even more mellow. Then it was to the bank and again it all went swimmingly. The ‘one-payment option’ was no problem we were assured. J asserted her right as joint account holder to sign whatever needed to be signed. I remember smiling behind my hand as the bank asserted its right to do things its own way and page after monthly page spewed out of the printer. They would take the money in one instalment but only after she had signed for each individual monthly payment! Sometimes life is like that!

A&J cocooned in isolation up in the mountains where life is simple and uncomplicated – mostly!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Economic Migrants

So, after being totally traumatised when Muğla central police station lost our original application for long-term residency during the change-over from the old ways of doing stuff, the new staff and system have completely redeemed themselves.


I do understand that police stations can’t actually lose anything and anyway, I doubt the paperwork is lost – I bet it is still in the bottom of some filing cabinet drawer along with a whole bunch of other applications from people we know!

Six months, almost to the day, since the applications were re-submitted, an SMS arrived – they were on the way from Ankara! The tracking system functioned fine and on the first working day after they arrived in Ortaca the delivery guy rang to get our location. We’ve even had an SMS to tell us they’d been delivered to us in case we hadn’t noticed!


These days the permit arrives in a white wallet sponsored by Turkish Airlines ‘Miles & Smiles’ – you can’t keep the world’s favourite airline down!


look carefully at this photo and you’ll see that Ortaca police are also kind to street animals

Thanks go to the delightful and very helpful police lady in Ortaca who got all the duplicates together and then rang and pleaded with Murat at the Migration Directorate in Muğla to see us and get everything sorted asap. He did! Forty minutes after we walked through his office door we were on our way home – job jobbed!

Unless the elixir of life turns up in the form of a wine bottle we’ll never have to go through this stuff again. These long-term permits are valid until 31st December 2099 – gawd help us if we forget or don’t last long enough to renew – trust me, you really don’t want to fall foul of the bureaucracy here!

Alan Fenn, a legal, long-term economic migrant in Turkey.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

‘Jesus Wept!’

As my mother used to say – ‘Jesus wept!’ Well, he would have done if he’d had to deal with this Turkish bureaucracy!

local bureaucrat

I know, I know! Sweeping generalisations are not the way to go – but bureaucracies the world over are a pain in the arse, mainly because they are created by arse’oles – and that’s not a generality, it’s a bloody fact!

Before I go any further and dig myself into a hole, I want to say this; J and I have never paid a back-hander to anyone in the 15 years we’ve lived here. In that time we have always been treated with consideration, kindness and understanding by the rank and file bureaucrats that we have dealt with and today has been no exception.

As Bill Clinton once famously didn’t say, ‘It’s the system, stupid!’

So, what did the system do to us? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin . .

As I said a moment ago, J and I have lived here for nigh on 15 years and in that time we have owned three cars – our present one is just a year old. In those years we have driven all over Turkey and J has done her share behind the wheel. We have been stopped at countless police/jandarma check points and our documents have always checked out. We have also never had an accident, which is just as well because we have just learned that J was not insured for all those kilometres!

How could this be? In 15 years didn’t we ask? Didn’t we check? Of course we did! And everyone, including the police told us there was no problem; J was covered on my insurance. And she would have been – if we had been married!

Before going any further here, I want to make something clear – we are not, and will not be married as a matter of principle. We have been together for many more years that over half of the population of Turkey has been alive – we have children that are older than many of you reading this – we have always shared equally everything we have ever owned, from homes to debts to money in the bank. We have never felt the need to justify our relationship to anyone. Apart from that, J wouldn’t marry me if I was the last bloke on the planet!

Anyway, back to our bureaucratic adventure; we are law-abiding in the main because the last thing either of us (or you) wants is to get dragged into the legal bureaucracy here in Turkey. We needed to get ourselves sorted – and quickly!

Inquiries to insurers and to contacts at the police HQ established that we could put the car registration in the name of a Turk (Yeah! Right!), in which case anybody and their dog could drive the car; or we could get J’s name on the documents as a joint owner and then the insurance covers us both. Remember, if we had known all this at the time we bought the car it could have been done then (take note ye ‘living-in-sinners’).

Off we went to the Notary to do the business. Even though this was the first time they had done such a thing for a yabanci (foreigner) it went fairly smoothly apart from the delays caused by the central computer system which kept crashing. Eventually, hours longer than it should have taken, we were ready to pay the modest fee and have our new document stamped and ready to be taken to the police for their part of the process.

Except that the names of J and my mothers and fathers on the central computer in Ankara did not tally with the (correct) names in our residence permits! There was no way that process could or would move forward until that was sorted, and so off we went to see our nice policeman to request his help. Should be just a matter of explaining that all of the local documentation was correct but that some clerk had been careless inputting those details; right? Wrong!

same faces, same furniture, same system!

Our local people had to tell Muğla, who then have to tell Ankara who will then instruct the clerk to correct the error, with a fair wind and a star to guide us, the process will not be compounded by further errors. It will be Monday at the earliest before that gets done – when it eventually is, we’ll be able to go back to the Notary, pay our fee and get our shiny, new joint ownership documents to what has always been (in our minds if not those of the bureaucratocracy) our joint property.

‘Job done, then’ I hear you say. Well, sort of, because within 30 days we then have to go the Traffik Polis HQ in Muğla and get our new registration document, anyone out there interested in the odds?

Hmmmm! . . . I sense another post coming on!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü