Thursday, 4 August 2011

A life certificate


That was the driving force for the visit; the annual requirement to prove continued life and thereby continued entitlement for a pension.

Visits to Iraqi embassies are not something I relish doing.

I am reliably told that there was a time that the building was a social gathering place, a place to seek support and help.

My vision I suppose has been marred by other stories (possibly all fictional) of people going in and never coming out again.

My last contact with an Iraqi embassy happened in the Arab world sometime in early 2003, sitting in a room with a rather distracted official who was watching the occupation armies entering Iraq on a TV screen while half heartedly refusing to release an Iraqi passport into my possession.

On this occasion I decided to join the team travelling to the consular section of the Iraqi embassy in London, and so it was that on this bright morning three generations of one family arrived from separate directions at Gloucester road station.

It appears that life certificates were the thing most in demand today as into the basement of a rather unassuming building, down the black fire escape metal steps several members of the older generation of Iraqis living in England descended, to be greeted by a younger generation of Iraqis living in England.

Someone who had recently visited described it as reminiscent of a waiting room in a doctor’s surgery, I would say more like a pharmacy, with a deli style ticket dispenser, rows of plastic chairs on scruffy carpet, and two glass windows through which to communicate with the employees within.

The bureaucracy was as expected of any self respecting Iraqi official office, several forms to fill, submitted accompanied by colour photocopies (obtained from a DHL office nearby or from the copier just behind the desk according to the discretion of desk official) of at least three forms of Iraqi identification, lots of small talk on families and friends oiling the procedure and a couple of hours, several signatories and stamps later the job was done.

This however is just the first step in the process (said form will need to go via several ministerial buildings in Baghdad for further vital signatures and stamps before total officialdom can be achieved).

While I am here I though I might as well ask my burning question once more, so armed with my number ticket and the only form of Iraqi identification I own I approached the window.

Oh no dear I was informed by the kindly woman, this is defunct, you will need the originals of the other two, and no a photocopy will not do, any British documents will need to be stamped by the home office and Iraqi documents will need to be stamped by the ministry in Baghdad, everyone must attend here in person etc etc.

Much discussion followed, what if I cannot, what if they are lost?

If you want I could issue you with emergency documents on which you could travel to Baghdad and get the necessary papers another helpful young man offers.

Odd how reassuringly “homely” it was to see how little some things have changed.

And a reflection on my level of expectation that although my problem remains unsolved, simply for being treated in a civil way by the people in this building I left smiling.

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
dear 3eeraqi Medic,
how very Iraqi.. "simply for being treated in a civil way "..
Lovely post as usual..
v Iraqi..
05 January 2008 11:19

3eeraqimedic said...
Dear Yasmin
Yes not being barked at is such an unexpected bonus!
06 January 2008 14:28

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