Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Business as usual

Today I went to the Ukrainian consulate in The Hague. I went to register my daughter as a citizen of Ukraine. I also wanted her registered in my passport so that we can travel together without anyone suspecting I kidnapped her.

With the current situation in Ukraine I was prepared to see people being reserved, polite and quiet. I expected the atmosphere to be a bit chilly. Which would be fine given such state of affairs. I was wrong. It was all business as usual at the consulate. People spoke different languages, chatted and made jokes.

A woman came in. She spoke Russian with a slight accent that I’d associate with Tatars or Chechens, but her family name was Russian. Well, you never know.
“I applied for the Ukrainian passport a month ago, is it ready yet?” – She asked in Russian.
“What’s your name?” – The consul asked in Ukrainian. “We don’t have it here yet.”
“I am from Crimea, what passport do I need now Russian or Ukrainian?” – She asked all of a sudden.
The consul switched to Russian: “We only have Ukrainian passports under our jurisdiction. Your passport is ready, but did not reach us yet. Maybe it will come with the next post batch.”
“But the post doesn’t work now!” – The woman exclaimed.
“Don’t worry, we are talking about diplomatic post. That works. We will give you a call as soon as we receive your passport.” – He sounded very friendly and patient, something we are not used to from our officials.
“Thank you.”

The woman went away leaving me with a new casus on migration and citizenship law. Love those!

Sunday, 5 January 2014


“CrimeNL is a research project on what experiences people have with crime and how they view safety and danger in the Netherlands. Please be so kind to contribute to the research by filling out our questionnaire.” Of course I will! I will tell them how safe I feel in the Netherlands, how danger deteriorates as a notion and how really not dangerous it is here. My voice may be a lonely one, but it will be heard.

“In the past 12 months was there an attempt to break into your home without anything being stolen?” NO! “In the past 12 months has anyone attacked or molested you by beating you up or punching you or by using a pistol, a knife, a piece of wood or something else?” No of course not. What do they think - that it’s some kind of a Wild Wild West here?

"Many people sometimes do things that are not allowed by law. We would like to know how often you’ve done anything like that in the past 12 months. […] stolen something with a value of €5 or more” - I don’t steal. “[…] damaged something like a phone booth, a window or something else” – are they even serious? Phone booths don’t even exist anymore. “[…] threatened somebody (in person, by phone, e-mail or such) to be able to steal from them or make them do something for you? […] a weapon? […] hard drugs?” – oh, come on! “[…] free riding on public transport” – eh. “[…] downloading illegal software, music or films” – well… So what?!

“Please now think of the people with whom you’ve had a trustful relationship in the past 12 months. We would like to know how often they’ve done things that are illegal.” OK… “[…] downloading illegal software, music or films” – *swallows*. “[…] using soft drugs” – well, maybe not in the past 12 months, but… “[…] skipping work without a really good reason” – I hope they don’t, but then again: what’s a really good reason? “[…] drinking too much alcohol” – oops…

In the first few months of school they made it very clear to us that not making your homework will eventually lead to misbehaving, then to stealing and thus you’ll end up in prison. They used some kind of doublethink to explain that and to us, a bunch of 7-year-olds, it sounded pretty convincing. But what if it’s true? And if skipping homework leads to stealing, then where does all that illegal downloading lead?

All of a sudden I pictured K threatening me by phone, B throwing stones into my windows, J1 putting a gun to my head and J2 smashing my cat with a piece of wood. And then they rob me of all my belongings. And I entrusted my house keys to one of the J’s.

“Now we will ask some questions about how safe you feel in your own house.” …

HaBanot Nechama - So far/Lihiot

Search This Blog