now I have completed the whole Ikamet process and BOY was it painless in comparison to last year. We totally lucked out, we got a guy who spoke English and just wanted to josh around. The process was different–had to travel back and forth on the metro a few times to pay mysterious taxes in strange places and receive documents printed on that thin 90s teletype paper, and then hand them all back into Mr. Cop. He joked with Jari that he could put Jari’s passport photo with his phone number up in the Yabancılar Buro so that if any cute girls came in, he would point to the picture and say "you like him? take his number here." Then Mr. Cop took our documents and gave us temporary residency permits and told us to wait until the real ones arrived in the mail within three months or so.
This was of course in comparison to last year, when I visited the Fatih Emniyet six separate times, a crawling hell stuffed full of desperate immigrants and angry policemen, and had to just hope for the best.
Jari and I got back from the Yabancılar Buro and went to the new cafe in our neighborhood.
"How do you say ‘do you sell coffee seeds here?’" Jari asked.
"’Kahve çekirdekleri burada satılır mı?’" I said. "Is it really coffee seeds? That’s what they call them?"
"Yeah, Ayşe told me." Ayşegül of course is our downstairs neighbor. She has a street level art studio with orange and blue painted bars over the windows. Her and her rotating cast of friends Naylan, Serder, her boyfriend Tolga, Damla, and a few others basically spend the mornings drinking tea until they get tired of tea, then switch to coffee, and then disappear for a few hours like street cats, until Ayşe appears downstairs in the studio obsessively painting a stool or something. She got a grant from the government to open a small sandwich shop and works as an English translator.
We finished our coffee and peoplewatched. The boyacı, the guy who shoeshines and does shoe repair on Duatepe street, walked by. I had never seen him walk, anywhere, ever. Last year I was living in the apartment just above where he shined shoes and knocked off a plastic flowerpot, which nearly hit him in the head. He switched to a different corner and has stayed there ever since. He chain smokes and is always squinting,sitting on a tiny stool, blearily waiting for customers. I have also never seen him have a customer, ever.
PS on the escalator out of the metro, Jari had his jacket slung over his shoulder, and a turkish guy saw us and was like, "it’s cold, you’ll get sick." Not hello, not where are you from, it’s like a reflex.