FRO – Part 3: When Frustrating Is An Understatement

Sidd and me have been hanging out so much at the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) lately that we could become regulars. And maybe we would want to, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a bureaucratic sinkhole filled with dying souls and broken dreams.

You might remember my previous encounters with the FRO (Part 1, Part 2), the place where I was supposed to register as a foreigner within the first two weeks after arrival. Well, it’s day 114 now and we haven’t even started yet.

It’s absurd. You hear jokes about bureaucratic machineries where booth 2A tells you to stamp forms A and B at booth 3C before proceeding down to booth 1C for a Certificate of Approval, which is needed by 2A before handling the forms required by 3C to even consider doing anything at all. That’s not far from the truth here. Except that the places where I should go to have these things handled are located all around the city, and with occasionally very limited opening hours. I could go into details but it’s a mix of boring, hilarious and infuriating – and not good for blood pressure for anyone involved.

The funny thing? No-one knows how this thing works, what the big picture is. Every clerk can just say “you’re lacking a stamp here and a defined date here” and it’s up to you, the foreigner, to figure out where to get that stamp – provided you even have the correct document.

If Columbo took this case he wouldn’t be able to crack it even with his famous last question. Hand this over to doctor House and he’d unexpectedly arrive at the conclusion that it’s in fact lupus – and still be wrong. You know Watson, the new supercomputer that can play Jeopardy? Ask it “how do I get my C Form approved?” and it would probably bluescreen itself into oblivion.

No, but seriously, this was the fifth time I was to the FRO and it’s such a waste of time and energy. Saying it’s frustrating would be an understatement.

I have more, but for the sake of protecting myself from any even remotely possible repercussions in later proceedings I’ll keep it to myself. For now.