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German Bureaucracy 101 or How Polyglotism Killed Boredom

Is there anything more boring than spending hours in a fully crowded room, sitting on a bench that is as hard as a rock, staring at a screen on the wall and waiting for one’s number to show up in red digits, so that one can finally finish the appointment? I guess there are not many things that can be more dull than that but today I realized that depending on the angle from which you look at the whole situation, there may be things to smile about while you are waiting for your turn.

The Aliens Department in Berlin (I just looked up the word aliens department in my dictionary…English can be a very confusing and weird language sometimes really), is divided into several sections. There is one that deals with visa and residency permit issues. This particular one is divided into groups and a bunch of countries belong in each one.

I arrived there around 6. 50 in the morning. Even around that time, the room was already full of people with their waiting number slips. Besides me as a Belarusian citizen, there were also Russians, Thais, Tajiks, Kazakhs and others from that corner of the world. It was an interesting experience to listen to Russian and some Asian language (Thai? Chinese? Taiwanese?)  being spoken at the same time.

Here comes the best and most funny part about listening to people talk. The part when you eventually understand what they are saying. The Russian man behind me kept staring up at the board with the red blinking numbers and every time a new number would show up, he would shout it out loud in Russian in a REALLY loud way, so that people would know what number was on. Even those who could read for themselves or didn’t understand a word of Russian.

Some minutes later, two young men and an older lady entered the room. They happened to stand right next to my seat and the lady, that was probably the interpreter, was explaining what would happen next. All in all, the two young men were from Chechnya who wanted to get a refugee status. Here is the thing though:  the actual war in Chechnya seems to be over for a couple of years now but then still, why not give it a shot, eh?

After leaning against the bench that I was sitting on, the guy was almost leaning against me but that didn’t seem to bother him much, he decided to walk around the room a little. He slandered over to a large plant and took a seat at the edge of the big pot. He was actually kind of sitting inside the pot but that didn’t seem to bother him either.

Lastly, after one of the staff came by with a tray of coffee, sandwiches and water for those who were hungry or thirsty, a Russian lady took a seat right next to me. She answered her phone and started talking in such a voice as if she was the only person in the room. It was some sort of domestic talk. All about whether she could pick up her grandchild from somewhere next week or not. She kept repeating over and over again: “So when is François coming home from work then?” It was the way native Russian speakers pronounce the name François and other French words or names  that almost made me burst out in laughter and why I am actually writing all this down.

So yeah, even though getting up at five in the morning during summer and spending time at agencies is really not my most favorite thing to do, at least I can find the one or the other thing to laugh about at such occasions.


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