Monday, June 04, 2007

Visa madness

I was speaking to one of the girls from the institute a couple of days ago and she was telling me about the horrors of extending her visa here in alex. Which reminded me of my fateful morning when i happily walked to the “al-jawaazaat” to extend my visa. Now I have to admit that I was a tad late and was prepared for a slap on the wrist fine for flout Egyptian law etc but what I did not expect was the 3 hours ahead of me. In fact It was so bad that I dug my pen and pad out of my bag and kept a note of the preceding for the intention of blogging but never got around to it so here is my experience.

I walked into the building asked the guy sat next to the door where I needed to go, he looked at my passport and directed me upstairs. i had to pass a crazy number of booths mostly with French and Arabic words on top ( the Arabic looks like a scribble so that’s no help)

I asked a guard when I went upstairs where I needed to go next he directed me to window number 7 entitled “Resident Touristique” so I bobbed along happily, gave the woman one of my ecstatic smiles (which usually makes people so much more amiable) only to be met by a hard unsmiling, scowl wearing face of an elderlish woman. The next 3 hours proceeded like this.

1) window number 7 ( most unfriendly woman I have ever met)
2) sent to window number 10 ( to buy 2 stamps and a form)
3) sent back to window number 7 ( was told to fill in form, proceeded to fill the form in, was told by the hellion to move off her window and fill in my form across the room, how rude)
4) filled in the form, returned to window number 7 ( were she practically took my arm off whilst trying to take the form from me, at this point I was forced to raise an eye brow)
5) She then sent me to window number bloody 10 to get another stamp, at this point I had a 100 note was the woman at window number 10 was getting irritated with me but a smile and a sorry was enough to restore her humour (normal human there then)
6) Back to window number 7 except she is not there, I had to stand there for 15 mins while she held a rather heated conversation with one of her colleagues ( bless the poor man)
7) She returned, snapped a few words of ammiya far beyond my grasps at me, at this point am contemplating if prison would be more pleasant. She throws my form back at me and sends me to window number 8
8) Window number 8 is now occupied by the man she had that scathing argument with ( oh joy) so I stand there and try a smile, old man isn’t affected by my attempt at civility but he doesn’t swear at me so am thankful (she conditioned me to expect abuse in under an hour)
9) Window number 8 the man takes my papers and picture, I brought two but they only need one. He had read over my details and asked me if my mum was Egyptian, then I try and joke with him by responding with “if I say yes will it speed up the process”. He said nothing and continues scribbling on my form ( note: never smile or joke with a government official)
10) Then its back to window number 10 to buy more stamps
11) To window number 8 again to be handed a letter and was told to take it, go downstairs and pay my fine then return.
12) As I am descending i ask a man which window I needed to go to pay my fine, he points to a window entitled “cassie” window number 6.
13) I paid and was then told to go back up, a return to window number 8 and was told to go and photocopy the receipt and the letter he gave me. ( by now am ready to punch the first non- government official to cross me)
14) There is a convenient photocopy guy just outside the building (praise the lord) so I stand there queuing like a polite Brit when people start pushing in front of me ( wrong day) so now am telling people to move out of my way! And when the photocopy guy took the papers of the guy behind me I took a step towards him, I must have looked really angry because he took my papers from me and copied them promptly J
15) Then I return to window number 8, he scribbles a few more things and then sends me to
16) window number 7 ( at this point she is the one who is met by a scowling non-smiling face, serves the wench right )
17) She hands me my growing papers and tells me to get the “Captain” to sign them, she directs me to a room, I turn up and find the captain, give him my wad of papers he asks me a few things, I look blank, he shouts for a Hasan (by now am not contemplating the merits of prison over this ordeal, the captain looked like he could pull of all ten of my toe nails without flinching once)
18) I go back to window number 7, she tell me to return in an hour without any explanation as to why so I stand there demanding why and she says to collect your visa and passport. At which point I mutter a strained shukran and exit.
19) Found the nearest coffee place and grabbed some well deserved tea passed my time there, regain control of my temper.
20) Returned! Took my passport with my visa and left the place ( alhamdulilah)

For the love of all that is good if this is the system is Cairo as well anyone thinking of staying in Egypt for longer then a month please get your visa from your home country, it’s a matter of downloading a form and posting it!


Aya said...


How hideous! You are much more patient than I am because that kind of treatment will have me leave 15 minutes in or someone loses a front tooth. I'm digging up a repressed memory of the Mugama'a in Cairo some years back. I was pushed, shoved, trampled upon and practically lifted off the ground and that was in the first 20 seconds towards the elevators. The red tape is astounding. Locals can spend upwards of weeks getting a single official document or form. Glad that you got your extension, though, what's a little high blood pressure and the beginnings of heart disease between brethren.

Anonymous said...

lol .. just count your blessings u did were not in Cairo, the Mugamac is far worser than what you described .. and as Aya said, those of us who have EU/US passports have far more easy ride than the other Somalis who have to wait endless weeks back and forth to that place, mostly spending a whole day.
but admittly i loved the experiance.

flowerlady said...

Hee hee
I told you so soo so so so so

NM said...

Aya walahi it was a test of character, dee your a strange man for having enjoyed the experience. Flowerlady, i should listen to you more often :)

Anonymous said...

NM It seems like you are discovering all over Egypt, but guess what... You are lucky enough to be sent to the local jawazat, This sort of process they call it here “IJRAA’AAT” and I guess that is the most familiar word in Egypt Of course after “AYWAH”.
Dee NOOH it’s true EU/US passport holders are blessed with easy ride than the other Somalis who have to wait endless either entry visas or residence even if you are student,( talking about experience). But what I can I say its small price to pay for an entry in a country like Egypt.

Ever The Idealist said...

oh hun, am so sorry. you beared it well though and did not disgrace the muslims or the somalis in your manner. you are gonna have soo many stories once you return IA aMEEN. am missing you and talking far too much about you to allthat will listen :D


hey....what doesn't kill you makes u stonger. U r a tough cookie :)

Missin u!

Firefly said...

Heh. And I thought the British were bad! Goodness me.

NM said...

ETI: all that will listen, are these ppl we know or ramdom ppl? :)

Native, sarah thinks am repeating the experience with her lol

Firefly: something to keep in mind if you ever want to come to egypt