Thursday, August 03, 2006

Beurocracy, Mr Khaki and a Forgotton Home.

My New Passport:

You may remember some time ago KhadijaTeri posting about Mr Khaki ; the all too familiar figure of Libyan places of authority. Well today I had my run in with Mr Khaki and his brigade – today was the day my passport expires.
I wont bore you with the details but I basically had to fill out a million forms, was told a million times that the forms filled were the wrong type, was sent to a million different places all around Tripoli… and oh yes… it was a very very hot day.
I couldn’t help but laugh at how power hungry the brown military suit wearing Mr Khaki had become, their boots shining and their three stars on their shoulder proudly glistening. I would say that a lot of them should well be proud of the job they're doing but unfortunately too many of them barely looked me in the eye as they waved me away and far too many of them were looking for a quick bribe in return for a short cut to obtaining (what is our civil right) a passport and ID card.
KhadijaTeri once mentioned the phenomenon of "wasta" or "friends in high places". Well I know a few people who have helped me along the way with some things over the years but not in immigration im afraid.

Anyway for those who know Tripoli and the surrounding areas, I ended up in "Gusur Bin Ghasheer" or "Al Swany" which is where I finally got my hands on my brand new passport and my brand new id card (which is still massive!! Why don’t they just shrink them the wallet friendly standard card size?????).

Anyway I was talking with one of the police officers who filled me in on the latest news which explained to me the impossible amount of beurocracy I found in Tripoli. Recently 5 immigration officials have been arrested and are on trial for supplying Egyptians and Tunisians with fake Libyan passports. The guys were apparently asking for 6000 euros for this "service" and were leeching onto the fact that the Libyan passport holder has the easiest access to a UK visa in the arab world. Now all kinds of nonsense is required to get a passport, including finger printing, and now officers are reluctant to help in anyway for fear of aiding a fraudulent claim to a passport…..hmmm

Well that’s my bit on Libya's bureaucracy and one of the biggest things I hate about this country.
I wish I had the presence of mind to take some pictures to calm me down but I think Mr Khaki would have had a thing or two to say about that.

A forgotten home..

My dad came from a really poor family who used to live in the Medina (center of town). As I grew up I used to hear stories of simple times where nearly 13 people lived in a one-floor house with only one bathroom and one kitchen and yet they all got along. My dads father died when my dad was young (the end of tenaweeya or secondary school) and as the eldest he had the responsibility of looking after the rest of the family… and a big family it was. Unfortunately he couldn't live his dream and go to university but instead had to hold down two jobs so that his younger brothers could stay in school and go on to university. I remember my dad telling me of how he used to wake up early to pray the dawn prayer and then go up on the roof to eat his breakfast so as to not wake the others. He told me of how he used to watch them all asleep in the one bedroom before he left in the morning and would come back so late at night (from his second job) that he would be greeted with the same sight of the whole family huddled together asleep. He would then go back on the roof to eat his dinner and then go to sleep. He told me of days when the first family on his street bought a television and how they all used to sneak up to the window to peep in and watch the "moving pictures". He told me of how they built an open air cinema in front of the house and how he could just sit on the roof eating his dinner and watch the late shows. He told me of the arab isreali war and the time when all jews were expelled from libya and how they hid a local jewish lady called Ramu from the authorities. He told me of the tears as they took away their jewish friends knowing too well they would never see them again. He told me of times when he was sent to buy bread and thought he would make his mother proud by bringing back bread and loads of money when he was convinced to gamble his few pennies by a street con artist with a deck of cards. He never played cards again.
All these memories in one house we call the medina house. All of my family, including brother and sisters, lived in the house (apart from me!) and have memories of a simple time.

Yesterday I went to visit the medina house. It still belongs to our family but is locked up with padlocks and is derelict (run down) with graffiti on the wall. I sat outside the house on a bench and I could see my dad sitting on the roof eating his dinner, I could see my uncles playing marbles in the street and their mother calling them from a window. I can see them all huddled together in the winter sleeping in one room. I could see a bunch of boys huddled together around the neighbours window wondering how the pictures on the television were moving.

These days everyone of the family I talk of lives in a multi-storey villa with air conditioning and a satellite. Im not sure if any of them sit and remember the days of the medina house, but I certainly remember the stories.


Blogger AngloLibyan said...

probably the main reason stopping me from going back is the beurocracy and Mr.Khaki, if it wasnt for them i would go back very happily to my beloved country but not until i know i would be respected and that i can leave when ever i want.
i was really touched by your old medina house story, i hope u can one day day restore it to its former glory, itsw a beautiful house.

4:53 pm  
Blogger WaLKiNG CoNTrADiCTiOn said...

Thank you anglolibyan. I hope that one day you feel the respect you deserve.

12:08 pm  

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