Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting a License

Finally, this morning, I got my driver's license renewed. This is easier said than done, here in Bali. Especially for a foreigner. Firstly, you must know someone, either an agent or someone in the police department. In the past, I have taken the former course, as the cost was included as a sort of 'courtesy' for using that agent for the Kitas (foreign visa) process. This year, however, my agent decided her fee would be $500,000 Rupiah instead of the usual $350,000.  In general, one might expect to receive increasingly better treatment after 3 years when the same agent, but such was not the case here.

So, my wife said 'Forget that, I can get it for $350,000. I know a guy."

Well, turns out she actually knows a guy who knows a guy - which is a very popular sort of arrangement here in Indonesia. Everyone knows a guy (who knows a guy).

Last Saturday, therefore, I drove to her office in Denpasar to meet up with Sugung, a driver, who was said to know a guy in the police department. However, when we got to the police department, we found it closed. He called his guy, who happened to be having breakfast nearby at the time, and we were told -- yes, you guess it -- that the place was closed. Come next Saturday, the guy said.

"But," as I pointed out, "my license is expired now. What if I get stopped in the meantime?"

"Oh, no problem," the guy said.

No problem for him, sure. But I would remain, for the next week, a juicy possibility for the random, lucky police officer.

Meet me next Saturday, "Sungung instructed. We try again."

Friday night comes around and I find that Sugung cannot go to the police station tomorrow. It's a holiday. So sorry.

So my wife, on Saturday morning, contacts Sarsen Oka at the department and tells me to meet her at the office. It is not, as it now appears, a holiday. By the time I get to the office, I find that she has moved even  higher up the line, through a friend at work, who -- yes, you guessed it -- knows a guy.

Off we go. The goal, if you've forgotten, has been to get a driver's license. A little card with my picture on it. A $350,000 Rupiah little card with my picture on it. (As a note of interest, these licenses cost $25,000 for Indonesians).

The young man whom we meet at the station turns out to be so important, indeed, that he does not even have to wear a uniform. He's wearing batik, comes to us immediately, has me sign a sheet of paper, and ushers me, forthwith, into the office where my picture and fingerprints will be taken.

And it's done. And it only took a week.

Carlos. Remember that name. For, next year, the whole thing comes around again.

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