Monday, December 10, 2007

Day 65 - Soft Porn and Bureaucracy

Today we battle it out again with Greek bureaucracy as we attempt to get Nicole a new-style Greek passport. With a change in legislation, the Greek government now require DNA samples to be embedded within the document along with a microchip recording of all the stored memories within Nicole’s brain. Something like that anyway.

Our first stop is to get passport photos adhering to Greek requirements: a grim, miserable expression. Next, another near-death experience on the roads at the hands of a hot-headed taxi driver overly confident in the protection offered by the icons on his dashboard. By shear luck we arrive at the tax office still sporting a pulse.

The tax office is the next leg in this bureaucratic relay. Here we must purchase some vouchers before heading to the police station to pass the baton on.

The office is dark and colourless with the staff tucked behind a thick curtain of fag smoke and a heavy wooden U-shaped barrier; memories of a back-street East-End pub surface. We stand at the barrier waiting to be served. There is no one in front of us, but looking into the pit we see the, mostly male, staff engrossed in the soft porn being played on the small T.V attached to the wall. We wonder if there is a long list of men on the island waiting for a job to become available here.

Finally a heavily moustached staff member drags is eyes away from the thonged backside on the screen long enough to ask what we want and to direct us to another desk to get served. We move to the cell-like window as instructed and wait again. There is a woman in front of us with a large pile of papers that each require to be looked at, signed and stamped by the smoking official behind the bars whose eyes regularly dance between the T.V and the documents.

After half an hour, all papers are stamped, a large wedge of cash is handed over, and the woman in front of us leaves. We fumble around with the smattering of Greek in our heads and manage to splutter out what we want. Nicole is asked her age as this apparently has a bearing on the cost. She is not sure how she feels when she discovers that her age is “good”, it will bring the cost of the vouchers down to 76 Euros. More cash is handed over, three vouchers are handed back, and we head off to the police station for more hoop jumping.

Arriving at the police station we are again greeted with a smoking official behind a large desk who informs us that we are too late (it is 1pm), the department is closed, and we must return between 8 – 12 midday tomorrow.

'Tomorrow' is when all business gets done in Greece.

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