Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Comfortable missionary position

Posted by Andy Hockley on 18 May, 2008

Been slacking off on the blog a bit lately, don’t really have much of an excuse, but since I’m providing a free service (albeit one of dubious value), I reckon you can cut down on the criticism a tad.

I’m writing this on a train home from Bucharest*, where I spent yesterday and this morning partly doing a workshop and then this morning getting myself a visa for Kazakhstan. This latter process had its own little set of interests, as I eventually located the embassy which is not an embassy, and is not even a consulate, but is a “diplomatic mission”, whatever that means. The bloke who works there is though officially a consul (rather than a missionary), and has what appears to be a nice cushy life. The place is only open from 9-12 and I duly showed up this morning at 9.30 to find he hadn’t actually got to work yet. The policemen outside were friendly enough and spoke English which was a bonus. [Another positive was that I went for a stroll round the block while I waited and came across the gloriously named “Kunty Automotive Service”. It’s the first time I have ever thought that having a mobile phone with a camera in it would have some value. Sadly though, I still live in the dark ages, mobilephonewise] It seems a little bit much that Romania presumably has to pay for two policemen to sit outside what amounts to a house with a flag on it, 24 hours a day, to guard a consul (who only works a couple of hours a day) and two staff (I’d called them a few times and that experience, along with basically meeting everyone this morning, means that I have pretty much worked out the staffing levels of the place. I reckon I’d make a good spy). One thing I had to do before going there this morning was to pay for my visa – you can’t just show up at the place with cash, you have to pay at a bank, and then show them the receipt. This I had to do in the Banca Transylvania (any branch), which is convenient as we live in the same building as that bank. So on Wednesday I went along to the Csikszereda Banca Transylvania and asked if I could pay for a Kazakh visa. This, as might be imagined, caused some consternation, since I suspect they don’t get many people in there asking for such a thing. There were lots of phone calls and eventually a ledger was produced in which I managed to locate the Kazakhs and demonstrate that really this was possible. Anyway, I finally got my pieces of paper in order, and when the consul showed up, waited for half an hour reading about the glorious achievements of Kazakh government, while he stuck something in my passport. Not quite sure why it took him half an hour, but there you go. He was probably tired.

I’m off to Almaty the week after next, since you asked.

(*While I did actually write this on the train on Friday, I could not post it until today, Sunday. So, no, the Kazakh consul was not working on a Sunday. Or in the afternoons. Or before about 10. Or much at all really)

2 Responses to “Comfortable missionary position”

  1. ursus arctos said

    That is diplomatically strange, as “missions” are usually set up in relation to international organisations (like the EU) or states that lack full diplomatic recognition (like the Vatican), rather than recognised sovereign states (where one has an “embassy” in the capital and “consulates” everywhere else). I wonder what accounts for the Kazahk situation in Romania.

    In any event, I would be pretty sure that yer man the consul has significant business interests linked to Kazakhstan, and isn’t relying on the revenue from his dipolomatic gig (even if that may look decent on a per hour basis).

    I’m quite interested in your views of Almaty, as it not beyond the realm of possibility that I will be going there myself later this year.

  2. Gadjo Dilo said

    When travelling to another country I find it’s handy to be prepared with something you have in common with the populace. People of Romania and Kazakhstan may have a common dislike of Sacha Baron Cohen – the bits of his Borat film he claimed were his “homeland” were filmed in a Romanian village and the villagers were unwittingly portrayed as rapists and incestuous idiots. (But I’m sure you’re already aware of this.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: