Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bureaucracy, or Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (part 4 of 6)

The French are notorious for their bureaucracy, certainly with the Brits and the Dutch.

A French civil servant
In my view the Dutch should not moan too much about bureaucracy, because Dutch civil servants can be far worse than French ones. The main difference between the two is in the approach of a problem. The French can be (depending on their mood) either absurdly strict when it comes to applying rules, or waive them. The waiving attitude is quite common in rural areas.

His Dutch counterpart
In the Netherlands rules are rules, and when an exception is made it has to be turned into a new rule first.
That makes French bureaucracy often unpredictable, and its Dutch counterpart sometimes frighteningly efficient. The latter comes in very handy when one requires official documents from authorities: requesting can be done through internet, paying uses internet as well, and normally the requested document lands within a week on your doorstep.

Paying online
However, there appears to be one exception: Dutch Courts of Law. For my application for French citizenship I needed an official court ruling concerning my divorce. After having explained to a French civil servant in Mâcon that I had no such piece of paper, and did not know how to get hold of it, but that the required information could be found on another official document issued by my place of birth, she waived the request as being fulfilled. Somehow I was not entirely happy with this solution: given Dutch efficiency it must be easy to get hold of something trivial like that?

Préfecture - Mâcon
Internet provided a solution. I downloaded (18 May 2015) a form from the Courts' website, filled it in and posted it to the Hague. Pretty quickly afterwards (26 May 2015) I received a letter that they could not find the ruling, could I provide them with a case number? After starting digging through my archives once more, I found a photo copy of a piece of paper concerning the ruling (that looked like it had been torn out of a scrapbook), which also mentioned a case number. There was no letterhead, nor anything else indicating this might be an official piece of paper, but it was all I had. I filled in the form once more, sent it off and waited.

Court of Law - The Hague
When, towards the end of the year I still had no news from the courts, I decided to phone them (we are writing 4 November 2015). They told me that they most likely had lost my application, because these things should not take longer than a month. Could I fill in a new form and submit it? The form was posted the same day.

Ministry of the Interior - Paris
A month later (4 December 2015) I received a photo copy of the same piece of scrap paper I had found in my archives, however, this time it was stamped and dated by the Courts in The Hague. And that was all, or so I thought.
Until… on 15 January 2016 I received a letter from a civil servant in the French Ministry of the Interior in Paris, who disagreed with her colleague of the Préfecture in Mâcon: could I please provide them with a the court ruling and a sworn translation, to be submitted at the latest two months after the dateline of the letter?

A warmly recommanded sworn translator
So I had not persued this document for nothing!

The translation was quickly organised, and the document was posted 4 February 2016 to Paris. And how will this story continue?
God, this time impersonated by a French civil servant, only knows….

Note : Most pictures are copied from the internet.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

From old to new

In 2008 and 2009 I had the dubious honour to spend some time in hospital. That hospital was the Centre Hospitalier William Morey in Chalon-sur-Saône, in those days located in an old building on a small island in the Saône.

The old hospital
The care I received was excellent, but the building was old and rickety and the Intensive Care Unit, where I stayed twice, had rooms for one or two patients. Once one was released from Intensive Care one ended up in the normal wards for, if I remember correctly, 6 to 8 patients per ward.

The new hospital
When I recently had to go to hospital again for two nights, the old hospital had ceased to exist and I ended up in the brand new hospital of Chalon at the edge of town near the station. Fortunately there was no need to go to the Intensive Care again, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I ended up in a single room (with - at a price! – a radio, TV and internet connection). The nurse told me that the new hospital only had single and double rooms.

Single room (picture from a brochure of the hospital)
That was of course very nice for the patients, but the nursing staff was not so happy about it, for the simple reason that there were not only more, but also bigger rooms which increased the amount of walking they had to do day in day out. However, the care was excellent again, and, though I would have preferred to stay at home, one can think of a worse place to spend a few nights.

View from the old hospital
The only thing I missed in this new building was the view. In the old hospital I had a stunning view over the Saône on the two towers of the Cathedral Saint-Vincent. The new hospital offered me a view on an inner courtyard of the building; not exactly very inspiring. However, to be honest: no matter what the view is, what the quality of the care is and how comfortable the rooms are, it is always better to avoid hospital if one can!

However, I prefer this view!