Nova v Praze (new in Praha:-)

Thursday, August 7

Changes Soon in the Czech Immigration Front Line?

Tales that foreigners like to share and pass along from time to time in Czech Republic is the classic rejection cases and degrees of horrors that they have gone through and been going through in Czech's domestic Immigration front line - the infamous Foreign Police (Cizinecka Policie). The worst of all is Prague's office.

I have never heard or experienced so far any more strikingly dreadful and inhuman experiences caused by any Caucasian authorities than Czech Foreign Police.

All foreigners who stay in Czech Republic due to marriage, work, or study have to register with the Foreign Police, a sub-unit force under the Ministry of Interior. Not to mention those who would like to invite friends and families to Czech Republic, tourists to register with, and residents who want to renew or change permits.

I cannot tell the foreigners' experience preceeding Czech's joining EU in 2004, as I first came in 2005. However, in the aftermath, Czech Foreign Police was divided into two large sections: EU nationals and dependents section and its non-EU conterpart.
Harsh and racist treatment is banal across all non-EU registering frontliners. it has been always tiresome and confusing to be Vietnamese, other Asian minorities as well as those from undeveloped nations. Not only does language barrier become the problem, but also the Czech staff's cold look and cross-cultural indifference that dismiss people too easily whenever they find that their application is incomplete ; without even bothering to provide info centre.

Long queue and despairing people on the line are normal view in the packed, run-down, non-air-conditioning waiting room of Foreign Police; especially for those who are on the non-EU nationals line. It is an endless snake lane. Work ethics or professionalism is something that you miss in this part of the World. The staff is constantly and purposedly unhelpful and difficult to reason with. I witnessed the absence of their efficient and informative system. The 4 working days with only a total of 30 working hours is not helpful either.

Fortunately, being married to a Czech requires me to visit them less frequent and less painful than my friends who are on the other office. Four visits in three years is not bad. I came there to apply for my Permanent Residency Permit when I got my Wedding Certificate. Then I came over to pick it up. The last two visits were due to the need to get a legalized invitation letter for my family in Indonesia and accompany them to register as foreigners in Czech land when they visited me. Soon if I renew my passport or change my address, or If I deliver baby and would like to register him in this land, I need to go there too to update the PR book.

The office moved finally in 2007 to decent, spacious, multistoried premises on Konevova 32 in Prague 3. The unfriendly staff and less-than-40-working hours remain. But they have the Info Centre and digital numbering on queuing system. Does it help? For those who are not married to Czech citizen or have permanent residency permit, the horror stories continue.

How does it happen? Firstly, there are more foreigners now in Czech Republic coming from different part of the world trying to get better life in a relatively-easily accessed and fresh EU country. About 134,000 foreigners visit Prague's office on regular basis. Almost 50,000 of them are Vietnamese. Imagine, compared to 10 million Czech citizens.

Secondly, many mediators and black agents (not litterarily black in color:-)!!) see the opportunity of making tons of cash from these incoming foreigners. One agent can tap at least 10 visits a day and secure a whole working day for his clients. The single fighter foreigners can only wish for a luck to get a number on the day or grab a sleeping bag and wait a night or hours before at the office's entrance along with other same minded ones. The most cultural shock of course is suffered by the non-EU nationals from developed countries who generally do not master the language and do not want to waste time and feel powerless.

Thirdly, having been fortified with listless attitude, indifferent and reserved mentality, understaffed and underpaid condition, the Foreign Police team can be categorized as THE team with low morale and -sorry to say, still shrouded by communist cloak.

Tonight (6 Aug 08) on CT 2, a state television, Mr. Husak, the Director of this Foreign Police was asked for his opinion on the TV report on the long lines of gruntled people in front of the Foreign Police building at night.

Some hint: Mr. Husak was the Head of Czech Police but then demoted to head the Foreign Police. Allegedly he was transferred from the strategic position due to his violating the speed limit while driving.

Back to the TV news. People were interviewed and responded to what they think of the whole affairs and policy towards Czech foreigners. In short, people of course voiced their dissastifcation and frustation as they didnot know to whom they can address all these confusion and waste of time. Mr. Husak said that they will add more people and more working space in two months; meaning more counters and less queuing up.
And, from 1 January 2009, the permanent residency permit (trvaly pobyt) thing that takes about 15% affairs, will be taken care of by the Department of Internal Affairs (Ministry of Interior). And then by 2013, all the foreigners registering things will be too.
BUT, Foreign Police is already under the Ministry of Interior! So, I do not really know what it means anyway. I do not see that being transferred to other Czech state bureaucracy will give more enlightment than before. My prejudice is that the officers will bear the same mentality and attitude and low-paid service.

Does the planned change mean a change after all?


foto by

Monday, March 24

Ada Perda tentang denda 20 juta rupiah di jalan-jalan Jakarta?

Aku baru dengar kalau ternyata sebelum Sutiyoso turun jabatan sebagai Gubernur Jakarta, ada Peraturan Daerah yang melarang warga Jakarta untuk memberi uang kepada pengemis dan membeli koran, makanan, dan lain lain dari pedagang asongan di jalan-jalan Ibukota dan sebaliknya.

Dendanya bisa mencapai 20 juta rupiah kalau tertangkap atau masuk penjara.
Kalau sekedar melihat ancaman sangsi nya yang cukup serius, mungkin ada niat serius dari pemerintah untuk menertibkan Ibukota dan membersihkan seluruh pelosok jalan-jalan di Jakarta raya dalam waktu singkat dan efektif.

Tetapi kalau dipikirkan secara serius juga, apa mungkin ini kebijakan yang bijak, apalagi bila para pengasong dan pengemis terpaksa dipenjara karena tentu tidak punya uang jutaan rupiah untuk membayar denda. Mereka pun jelas tidak tahu akan peraturan ini. Tidak ada pembelajaran dan pelatihan dari Pemerintah.
Keluar masuk penjara mungkin jadi alternatif paling aman bagi mereka sembari tetap mengadu nasib di Jakarta.
Kalau salah satu pasal di UUD masih ada bahwa para fakir miskin dan anak anak terlantar dipelihara oleh negara, lalu apa yang sudah negara buat untuk mereka sehingga rakyatnya tidak diperbolehkan memberi uang atau sekedar membeli barang dagangan mereka untuk menyambung hidup orang-orang yang belum beruntung itu?

Aku pikir semua orang yang sudah ada di Jakarta punya hak hidup. Kalau memang kita sepakat bahwa masalah kependudukan di Jakarta sudah terlalu memprihatinkan, ya kebijakannya harus dibuat menyeluruh seperti membuat aturan main yang ketat untuk orang bisa datang ke Ibukota.
Tapi bagaimana caranya melarang orang datang ke Ibukota kalau hasil pembangunan Indonesia belum merata dan menyentuh daerah daerah lain selain kota-kota besar di Jawa, Bali, dan Sumatra?

Duh... aku jadi serius gini:-(....... Oh Jakarta ku ...

image taken from national geographic

Monday, February 25


Mt. Jested is famous for ski resort in Czech Republic. It stands 1,012 meters above the sea level and is part of Jested-Kozakov Ridge, 100 km north of Prague. Few weekends ago we went up there before the snow melted completely and see Liberec and surrounding in winter time.

Instead of taking funicular, this time we decided to walk 10 km and cover 500 m elevation.The iced path worried me a bit as it added slippery part of the hiking. However, the hot chocolate and garlic soup in the Jested Tower's restaurant paid it off:-).

The view overlooking the Liberec area at that day is not greenery picture at all but it still presented peace and majestic feelings as you looked down and around.
The way back as we were racing with the sunset was not easier after all, with all melting snow and steep hill, we literally were the snowball rolling down the hill with all people staring down from the funicular above:-)!

We were lucky enough to enjoy the live international ski jumping competition. They were so unbelievable! Flying and landing gracefully on the ground.


Aku mau membagikan kisah sederhana di bawah ini yang membuat aku berhenti sejenak dari kesibukan dan diingatkan untuk menghitung berkat ku lagi hari demi hari.

Alkisah ada dua orang anak laki-laki, Bob dan Bib, yang sedang melewati lembah permen lolipop. Di tengah lembah itu terdapat jalan setapak yang beraspal. Di jalan itulah Bob dan Bib berjalan kaki bersama. Uniknya, di kiri-kanan jalan lembah itu terdapat banyak permen lolipop yang berwarni-warni dengan aneka rasa.Permen-permen yang terlihat seperti berbaris itu seakan menunggu tangan-tangan kecil Bob dan Bib untuk mengambil dan menikmati kelezatan mereka.

Bob sangat kegirangan melihat banyaknya permen lolipop yang bisa diambil.Maka ia pun sibuk mengumpulkan permen-permen tersebut. Ia mempercepat jalannya supaya bisa mengambil permen lolipop lainnya yang terlihat sangat banyak didepannya. Bob mengumpulkan sangat banyak permen lollipop yang ia simpan di dalam tas karungnya. Ia sibuk mengumpulkan permen-permen tersebut tapi sepertinya permen-permen tersebut tidak pernah habis maka ia memacu langkahnya supaya bisa mengambil semua permen yang dilihatnya.

Tanpa terasa Bob sampai di ujung jalan lembah permen lolipop. Dia melihat gerbang bertuliskan "Selamat Jalan".Itulah batas akhir lembah permen lolipop. Di ujung jalan, Bob bertemu seorang lelaki penduduk sekitar. Lelaki itu bertanya kepada Bob, "Bagaimana perjalanan kamu di lembah permen lolipop? Apakah permen-permennya lezat? Apakah kamu mencoba yang rasa jeruk? Itu rasa yang paling disenangi. Atau kamu lebih menyukai rasa mangga? Itu juga sangat lezat."

Bob terdiam mendengar pertanyaan lelaki tadi. Ia merasa sangat lelah dan kehilangan tenaga. Ia telah berjalan sangat cepat dan membawa begitu banyak permen lolipop yang terasa berat di dalam tas karungnya.Tapi ada satu hal yang membuatnya merasa terkejut dan ia pun menjawab pertanyaan lelaki itu, "Permennya saya lupa makan!"

Tak berapa lama kemudian, Bib sampai di ujung jalan lembah permen lolipop."Hai, Bob! Kamu berjalan cepat sekali. Saya memanggil-manggil kamu tapi kamu sudah sangat jauh di depan saya.""Kenapa kamu memanggil saya?" Tanya Bob."Saya ingin mengajak kamu duduk dan makan permen anggur bersama. Rasanya lezat sekali. Juga saya menikmati pemandangan lembah, Indah sekali!"

Bib bercerita panjang lebar kepada Bob."Lalu tadi ada seorang kakek tua yang sangat kelelahan. Saya temani dia berjalan. Saya beri dia beberapa permen yang ada di tas saya. Kami makan bersama dan dia banyak menceritakan hal-hal yang lucu. Kami tertawa bersama."Bib menambahkan.

Mendengar cerita Bib, Bob menyadari betapa banyak hal yang telah ia lewatkan dari lembah permen lolipop yg sangat indah. Ia terlalu sibuk mengumpulkan permen-permen itu. Tapi pun ia sampai lupa memakannya dan tidak punya waktu untuk menikmati kelezatannya karena ia begitu sibuk memasukkan semua permen itu ke dalam tas karungnya.Di akhir perjalanannya di lembah permen lolipop, Bob menyadari suatu hal dan ia bergumam kepada dirinya sendiri, "Perjalanan ini bukan tentang berapa banyak permen yang telah saya kumpulkan. Tapi tentang bagaimana saya menikmatinya dengan berbagi dan berbahagia."

Ia pun berkata dalam hati,"Waktu tidak bisa diputar kembali." Perjalanan di lembah lolipop sudah berlalu dan Bob pun harus melanjutkan kembali perjalanannya.Dalam kehidupan kita, banyak hal yang ternyata kita lewati begitu saja. Kita lupa untuk berhenti sejenak dan menikmati kebahagiaan hidup. Kita menjadi Bob di lembah permen lolipop yang sibuk mengumpulkan permen tapi lupa untuk menikmatinya dan menjadi bahagia.

Pernahkan Anda bertanya kapan waktunya untuk merasakan bahagia?"Saya akan bahagia nanti... nanti pada waktu saya sudah menikah...nanti pada waktu saya memiliki rumah sendiri... nanti pada saat suami saya lebih mencintai saya... nanti pada saat saya telah meraih semua impian saya... nanti pada saat penghasilan sudah sangat besar... "Pemikiran 'nanti' itu membuat kita bekerja sangat keras di saat 'sekarang'. Semuanya itu supaya kita bisa mencapai apa yang kita konsepkan tentang masa 'nanti' bahagia.Terkadang jika saya renungkan hal tersebut, ternyata kita telah mengorbankan begitu banyak hal dalam hidup ini untuk masa 'nanti' bahagia.

Ritme kehidupan kita menjadi sangat cepat tapi rasanya tidak pernah sampai di masa 'nanti' bahagia itu.Ritme hidup yang sangat cepat... target-target tinggi yang harus kita capai, yang anehnya kita sendirilah yang membuat semua target itu... tetap semuanya itu tidak pernah terasa memuaskan dan membahagiakan.

Uniknya,pada saat kita memelankan ritme kehidupan kita; pada saat kita duduk menikmati keindahan pohon bonsai di beranda depan, pada saat kita mendengarkan cerita lucu anak-anak kita, pada saat makan malam bersama keluarga, pada saat kita duduk berdiam atau pada saat membagikan beras dalam acara bakti sosial tanggap banjir; terasa hidup menjadi lebih indah.

Jika saja kita mau memelankan ritme hidup kita dengan penuh kesadaran; memelankan ritme makan kita, memelankan ritme jalan kita dan menyadari setiap gerak tubuh kita, berhenti sejenak dan memperhatikan tawa Indah anak-anak bahkan menyadari setiap hembusan nafas maka kita akan menyadari begitu banyak detil kehidupan yang begitu indah dan bisa disyukuri.Kita akan merasakan ritme yang berbeda dari kehidupan yang ternyata jauh lebih damai dan tenang.

Dan pada akhirnya akan membawa kita menjadi lebih bahagia dan bersyukur seperti Bib yang melewati perjalanannya di lembah permen lolipop.

image by

Monday, January 7

New Year 08: Old friends, new day

One of Ondra's close friends is leaving for England. He got a one-year job offer and decided to give it a try. So we and other close friends spent time together on New Year Day at La Mirage.

The place is quite neat for a couple of drinks and a hole to hang out with friends. Psst.. its hot chocolate and mojito are ones of the best in town:-). With more sitting places and some fotbalek machines,It attempts to hit younger market and less dance-floor thingy.

We also stormed out for a while to see the fireworks at 6pm near the Bridge. Prague city always presents free entertainment like fireworks to start the New Year for Praguers like that night. It was more happening then the other one on New Year's eve. Talking about statistics, more than 50,000 people gathered around centre. The temperature that night was exactly zero degree. The theory of relativity plays... it was definitely warmer than the day before but way too cold for those who celebrate New Year in Indonesia and Australia. Afterwards, we hit the bar again, play fotbalek, chat and eat.

It is so unbelievable that all are still friends for more than 15 years and support each others! During busy days and forgotten years, here we are still catching up. Nice evening to start a a new day with good old friends! How did your New Year start?