The trials of getting a Hungarian residence permit
A team of 2-3 people spend hours queuing for this or that piece of paper with this or that stamp and signature, only to usually discover that this year, that extra piece of paper is (not) needed. This flurry of activity goes on for 2-3 months leading up to that bright, gleaming day when, armed with my file of important plastic-sleeved documents, I head to Budafoki ut to test my fate.
Except it's not in the building you expected. So you then spend the next 20 minutes or so ding-donging between buildings alongside the marvellous vista of strip mall (with Tesco as its crowning jewel) before finally being accepted by the building you were told was incorrect to begin with. The friendly information person punches the right button for you. Or the wrong one, which you realise after hours of waiting and being told by the person behind the counter that you're in the wrong section.
Clutching the new chit, you wait and wait, and when it's finally your turn, after sweating through your trousers into the torn plastic seats, you lay out all your documents as if it's your last will and testament in front of the gum-chewing bureaucrat chick in a low-cut tank top/short skirt ensemble in white. Her lacquered nails flip through everything - tick, tick, tick, pause. And of course, there's that one more thing that you didn't know about. One thing you were told you didn't need to bring that in fact you do. One more goddamned piece of paper.
- I once spent a week's worth of working hours waiting my turn. One of these days was a 7-hour wait. I got quite good at that bouncy-ball game on my old iPod.
- Very few people in those offices (the ones that deal with foreigners?) speak any kind of English.
- My application was once rejected for one incorrect signature that hadn't been an issue the year before. This meant reapplying for all the other documents that were only valid for a month. I had to throw away a plane ticket because of this, since I couldn't leave the country.
And today's fun residence permit application fact:
- I spent 4 hours traversing the city from one office to another because even though I was specifically told to pick up my permit in one place, it was actually in another. And this other, was a bus, metro, tram, bus ride through traffic jams ride away.
But I have it, an innocent miracle of a sticker pasted cleanly in my passport. So adieu bureaucrats, until next year.