Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Consulado Geral do Brasil em Londres, parte II

Parece que eu não sou a única pessoa a perder a paciência com o Consulado Geral do Brasil em Londres. Após minha experiência tentando obter informações sobre como proceder para transferir meu título eleitoral, o seguinte relato é mais um exemplo da incompetência e descaso tão freqüentes nos serviços prestados pelo Consulado e, o que é pior, o jeito que agem como se essas desaventuras fossem a coisa mais natural do mundo.

Friday, 30 April 2010

No Telefone com o Consulado Brasileiro em Londres

Hoje no telefone com o Consulado Geral do Brasil em Londres:

- Oi.
- Alô, posso falar com Tomomi?
- Oi. (silêncio) É, aqui é a Tomomi.
- Tomomi, me passaram seu telefone para informações sobre 2a via de Dispensa Militar
- Ah.
- Eu queria saber como posso emitir a 2a via.
- Onde você se alistou?
- No Brasil, em Florianópolis.
- Ah.

(silêncio)

- Então, como posso emitir a segunda via?
- Tem que fazer aqui mesmo.

(fecho os olhos e respiro fundo)

- Sim, eu queria saber qual o procedimento para emitir a 2a via. Que documentos eu preciso?
- É, você vem aqui né, preenche a ficha, e a gente manda pro Brasil.
- E quanto tempo demora? Na verdade, o que eu quero é emitir meu título de eleitor em Londres, mas fui informado que primeiro preciso de comprovante de de dispensa militar.
- É, mas com a ficha já dá, né.

(silêncio. estou confuso)

- Posso solicitar as duas coisas ao mesmo tempo então? O título e a 2a via de dispensa militar?

(silêncio)

- É... Deve dar né.
- Você tem certeza? Posso solicitar os dois ao mesmo tempo?
- Você vem aqui e fala comigo. Mas tem muita gente agora.
- Eu entro na fila geral do consulado, então? Ou posso procurar você diretamente?
- É, mas tá meio cheio né, é a última semana.
- Então posso ir até o consulado e procurar você diretamente?
- É, fala pro pessoal lá que é no 2o andar, número 9. Mas tem muita gente na fila né, tá bem cheio.
- Entro na fila pra falar com você, então?
- Entra na fila geral lá onde tá todo mundo, fala pro pessoal lá que você veio ver a Tomomi.
- E você pode solicitar o título pra mim também?
- É... Não sei né.
- Então também tenho que pegar a outra fila pra fazer o título?
- Hmmmm. (pausa) Acho que sim... Você vem aqui e a gente vê né.

(click)

Não sei o que o pessoal do Consulado Geral anda fumando, mas eu preciso de um pouco para conseguir entrar na conversa. Essa pessoa acima, senhoras e senhores, é uma funcionária do Consulado Geral do Brasil em Londres. Quiçá uma diplomata!

Eu liguei pedindo uma informação. Uma informação simples, diga-se de passagem. Informação que eu esperava encontrar no website do consulado. O problema é que deve existir uma lei brasileira proibindo navegação intuitiva e exigindo linguagem confusa e rebuscada nos sites de órgãos do governo. Imagino que há alguma exceção que faz essa regra, mas o website do Consulado Geral do Brasil em Londres não é esta exceção.

Então tive que ligar pedindo informações. Desliguei o telefone mais confuso ainda. Pelo menos a conversa rendeu um post nete blog.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

At last, Paris

First impressions. Busy, like London, but it's got that happy Latin/African feel to it and all the shit that comes along with it. It's dirty and disorganised, but so much more charming and beautiful.

All that I heard is true. Parisians really don't like speaking English to you if they can avoid it (even though they might know it), except those closely working with tourists, as it's easy to understand. A polite "Do you speak English?" with a huge smile on the side will likely be met with scorn. Good time to put my Français to good use then!

Aside from the cold, the lousy coffee, and the alarmingly large number of tourists, Paris was great. Who wouldn't like to spend their days walking around the quaint little streets of Montmartre, going from boulangerie to museum to café to the Champs Élysées to fromagerie and back to a restaurant for some tasty magré de canard? Also, I don't know why people complain about the service in France though, as we got great (albeit a bit slow) service. Waiters would even speak English to us! Best of all, no tipping, which I love as there is no need to work out whether the waiter deserves to get 10%, 12.5%, 20%, or god knows what.

The Louvre was amazing and apparently another 10,000 other tourists agreed with me. It's a truly impressive building and you should really lose yourself there for days if you want to do it justice. Alas, the day I was there the place was packed beyond belief. It took us over one hour just to get in through the door. Everyone had to queue next to the main "attractions". The Mona Lisa in particular had so many overly excited people around it holding up their cameras above the crowd that the room had a Leicester Square blockbuster premier feel, as if La Gioconda herself had jumped out of the frame and was walking down the red carpet. Surreal. Damn you, Dan Brown and all your bad writing.

All in all though, it was a week of very good food and great sightseeing despite the cold. Paris does live up the hype and I certainly look forward to going back there when it’s warmer and I can walk the Parisian streets leisurely and not worry about the stupid freezing wind in my face.

Friday, 8 January 2010

2009 on books

2009 was a good year for me, at least literature wise! With well over one hour per day in the London underground with not much else to do, I found books to be the main motivation for riding the tube every day. That, and the fact that I need to get to work and make a living, of course.

At some stage I realised I was going through lots more books than I used to in the past few years, so I decided to start keeping track of what I was reading. If for no other reason, at least to have a permanent record here that I can always go back to (blessed be the permalinks)

So here is the list, more or less in chronological order.

  • The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
  • Siddharta, by Hermann Hesse
  • Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Rainmaker, by John Grisham
  • Gang Leader For a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh
  • The Complete Guide to Capital Markets for Quantitative Professionals, by Alex Kuznetsov (don’t ask)
  • The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (by far the best read of the year for me. Amazing book)
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid
  • Laowai, by Sônia Bridi
  • Single & Single, by John le Carré
  • The Shining, by Stephen King
  • A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  • Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters
  • The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
  • Terrorist, by John Updike
  • Leite Derramado, by Chico Buarque
  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
  • number9dream, by David Mitchell
  • Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Meanwhile, I’m already working my way through my 2010 list with The Year of the Flood, another Margaret Atwood (can’t help it, I love the woman)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Missing

Coffee walk to Sierra with Warner and having the barista already know what we want.

Caramel slice from Columbus Coffee after lunch.

Getting takeaways from Raviz on Indian lunch day on Thursdays.

Lunch bunch walk to Burger Fuel and eating at the park, followed by kicking some ball around before returning to work all sweaty.

Badminton after work.

Yum cha at KK or Enjoy Inn.

Driving to work early morning on Campbell Road listening useless radio shows.

Organising DNUG meetings, setting it up, having people over, chatting, having pizza, and tidying up afterwards.

Working late nights and having the whole building to myself.

Friday evening chats with Joe.

Coruba & Cola and chips on Friday evenings.

Driving to and from the airport.

Getting Singapore noodles takeaway from that Chinese joint with Jacqui.

My team.

Having Sheba come around with that contagious smile of hers.

Going to the movies at Sylvia Park.

Lunch bunch.

Treasure hunts, etc.

Sunny Sundays just chillin’ at One Tree Hill

Talking shit on communicator with Sasanka and Moses.

Piha and Kare-kare.

Summertime BBQ with Thiago, Karla, and Angel.

Labour weekend away on a house by the beach with the German crowd.

Road trips to Mt Ruapehu and spend the entire day snowboarding.

The waterfront.

Hanging out with Sasanka’s Sri Lankan crowd.

My ridiculously tiny red Clio.

The Thunder Chickens!

Training for the Auckland Half with Andrew and Szu-yu around the Panmure Basin.

Chatting to Terryll at reception.

Awkward goodbye speeches and birthday cakes.

The film festival.

Drive to Parnell or Ponsonby for Sunday brunch.

Our Epsom flat.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tenerife

The bells in the tiny church of La Caleta are chiming 8 o'clock. Once they go silent, all I can hear is the distant muffled sound of Wednesday evening traffic in the avenue below, where the digital thermometer I've been watching all week is still hesitating to venture below the 26 degree mark.

Sitting here on the hotel balcony, feet up, watermelon juice to one side, Hemingway to the other, I can see the ocean waters as if lying still and on the horizon, the last few sun rays of the day shining through the rain falling over our neighbour, La Gomera island.
That pretty much sums it up. Life in Tenerife I mean. Or, life as a tourist, I should say.

Bar a walk to the local shop to stock up on mineral water and the odd visit to the nearby beaches, our routine here consisted pretty much of buffet breakfasts, lying by the water all day, and in the evenings walking down to the waterfront at Playa del Duque for a seafood dinner (papas arrugadas on the side, of course). Or beautiful Morrocan food and sweet mint tea at the Paris Marrakech.

I know that's pretty sad, and that I should have made an effort to leave the 1 mile radius around the resort to explore the island's nature and local culture. But when you live in cold and grey London, quarantined from the sunshine and the ocean, any second you can spend at the beach or by the pool is a treasured one.

But six days relaxing by the pool in this paradise island didn't feel like much, really. Time went by so fast and soon it will be time to go back to being squished in the tube at morning rush hour.

Oh wait. The sun is now coming down from behind the clouds in what is shaping up to be an amazing sunshine. It is our last day in Tenerife and it wants to say goodbye properly.

I will miss you too, Sunshine. Hasta luego.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

LGW - TFS

Amazingly uneventful flight from London to Tenerife South. Only down side is that we had to wake up just past 3 in the morning to be at Gatwick in time for check-in.

Damn no-frills airlines, why do they only allow a single piece of carry on per person? Particularly tricky for women I suppose. And what if I am carrying a water bottle, or a plastic bag with some snacks, does that count as a second carry on? Do I need to dispatch my water bottle at the check-in counter??

Deep breath... count to ten... we're finally in Tenerife. Stunning view from the hotel. I'm relaxed already. Summer is finally here. Or, more appropriately: Summer, I'm finally here!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cambridge photos

Gosh it’s been months we were there but I finally got around to putting the photos up on Flickr. Just a day trip to Cambridge, nice little town.

Sneak preview below. You can see all the photos here.

 

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Slow Change

Surreal experience at the Sri Lanka High Commission today.

After being greeted by a metal detector (which I already expected) I walk into this tiny lobby where about 30 people were queuing up in no particular order hoping to reach one of the reception counters. Which one I should go to wasn’t exactly clear, as counters 1 and 3 had a paper sign out of a dot matrix printer that said, respectively, “Passport Renewals” and “Birth/Death Certificates”, none of which were the purpose of this particular visit, so I decided to push my way around to counter number 2 which read “Please Pay Here”.

The place was so hot it might as well have been a sauna. A tiny third world oasis right in the middle of London – were it not for my formal work attire which made the whole experience miserable. But thinking about it now, if you come to London from Sri Lanka you probably don’t need an air conditioner even in the summer.

So after handing in my papers and paying for the visa fee, I am told to wait. After waiting there for a few minutes I’m thinking that they are probably going to process the visa on the spot and call me in for an interview as they are doing for most people waiting there. That would be good news, since the website says it takes a couple of days to issue the visa. Well, after 15 minutes of wait they come back with my change (£7) and a receipt – passport to be collected in two days. 15 minutes waiting for my change!! Feels just like home.