Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Visit to the Foreigner Police (Cizinecká policie)

A comparison with getting a tourist visa at the Russian embassy in London will help me illustrate the trials of trying unsuccessfully to submit my paperwork for a long-term residency visa in Prague today.

You have to wait for a long time at both places. The queue outside the Russian embassy in London is just that, a queue – a proper orderly English queue, with everyone standing a respectful distance from everyone else. No problems with people touching you and no problems breathing.

The situation at the foreigner police in Prague is different. A rock concert where people get stampeded to death comes to mind. All the EU citizens now get to go elsewhere, but the Americans are left to suffer with our poorer relations from the east, i.e. mostly Ukrainians, assorted Yugoslavs and Vietnamese. The problem with our eastern brethren is that they have no concept of personal space. People were pressing in and pushing through and touching me, which I hate, and several times I had to close my eyes and force myself to take deep breaths. I may have even elbowed one or two people (strictly self-defence).

In London I had to wait for two days before I got into the embassy. I gave up after 4 hours on the first day, and went back the next day and waited for 8. The Czech policeman, who looked to be about 14 years old, let us in after only about 2 hours.

The Russians in the embassy were really mean and yelled a lot. The women in the Czech information window were very nice to us. They told us where we needed to go and gave us a number. We got inside office #4 suspiciously quickly only to find out that we had been sent to the wrong place. We went back to the window and the women were gone. It was about 9.30 and all the numbered tickets for the morning had been given out.

We stood outside another door where I needed to go to register my new passport before I could apply for my new visa, but we did not stand a chance of getting in without a number. It suddenly seemed that everyone else was from the same village in Ukraine and they were all letting each other cut into the imaginary line.

I had more or less known what to expect at the foreigner police, although I had managed to avoid going to this, the main Prague office, for about 7 years. Katka, on the other hand, was completely traumatised by the experience.

When I left the Russian embassy nearly 33 hours after I had first got there, I had a valid visa glued into my passport. When we gave up and left the foreigner police only 3 hours after we had arrived, I left with nothing, except a promise from Katka that the firm would pay an agency to do the dirty work for me after all.


Anonymous said...

Cops are so sexy in uniform no matter what country you are in. slurp!

Monkey's Max said...

Celinko - you are so weird.