I’m becoming a familiar face at the administrative center in Bratislava. I’m teaching a lot of private lessons these days plus translations, (mostly Dutch, English and French and some German) and I see therapy clients in the evening, so I need to be able to make invoices myself.

I don’t want to make this post too long, so here goes:

I went to ask about that zivnost for the fourth time today. I won’t go into any details, but they always find an other reason to not give me a zivnost. Today it was this: I have to prove I lived in Belgium for at least ten years. Neither my identity card nor my university degree prove this. I need some document proving that I grew up there. Even my birth certificate doesn’t count. Really, I won’t go into any details, but it’s been crazy. Really kafkaesque. I have a lot of invoices to make by now, especially for Dutch and translations.

Tomorrow I will try again, with a letter written by myself in which I state – and this may come as a shock – that I grew up in Belgium.

There’s one advantage about this. As soon as they believe I am in fact Belgian, I can automatically teach Dutch, French and German, because we have three official languages. To prove I can teach English I need to take the Slovak state exam for English. I did this last year, and now you really won’t believe me, but I passed with the best result possible, since the three teachers that had to grade me did not have a perfect grasp of the language of Albion by far…

Based on my university degree I can only teach Russian, Slovene and Bulgarian.

When they do approve my request I have to pay 15 euro per language. That’s going to be a nice financial bloodletting…

I can also add that the people who work at these offices are at first outright condescending, if not spiteful, when I arrive, but somewhere halfway through the exchange they become overly friendly. Perhaps because I speak Slovak. Or perhaps because I speak Slovak AND stay friendly.

It’s one of the sad facts of my personality that you need to take several shots at me with a medium sized cannon before I fly into a rage and attack you.

Last but not least, all of this happened on the same day that my wife sold an other batch of 1,000 of her Kafka postcards. A postcard that was inspired by a similar bureaucratic nightmare in Belgium. (See picture)

It’s safe to say that these services are EVEN worse and even more rude in Belgium than in Slovakia.

Really, at first glance you feel like a hunted animal in Slovakia because the people can be so rude and pushy and impatient, but in general their brutish attitude is just to mask their heart that’s too good for this world. In Belgium there’s often a friendly facade to mask the exact opposite.

Slovaks sure have the talent to be brutes, in traffic, in any circumstance where some patience or dealing with a customer is required, but they have no talent for real evil doing. That’s why this country has always been exploited and why its cheap labor is still being exploited by foreign sharks.

And that’s my impression and you are free to disagree, I don’t give a damn.

‘The hardest challenge in life is to not become bitter’, dixit Louis Paul Boon, a Belgian writer, alcoholic, ex-communist, anarchist, with a tender heart for poor people who was also a perverted rapist. (Nothing and nobody is ever black or white).