July 3rd, 2007

krazy koati

You don't know how lucky you are boy

Friday I was roused early to go with my parents into Manhattan. They're taking a tour group tour of Russia in a couple months and need a visa, and the price for submitting the application through the tour group was close enough what gas and tolls driving in and spending a day was that we went up. Inside the Russian Embassy -- which we needed only two tries to get into as the first set of doors was locked -- was an L-shaped counter with plastic walls and three women sitting behind the log leg, and one behind the short leg. Several men were standing around the customer area. My mother went to one, who told her she had to stand in line. A few quick inquiries revealed the men who were there before weren't in line, but were simply taking in the visa application office atmosphere on a lovely Friday afternoon. So my father stood behind my mother, and now they could take her application. We're really very lucky she didn't go in alone to drop off the paperwork.

The woman who did take the forms was upset that my parents' plane tickets were for a day earlier than the start of the tour package. They'd wanted to come over a day earlier, stay in a hotel, and adjust from jet lag (my mother needs about a month for this). The tour group said they didn't need any special notes, just to explain it to the people at the embassy. The embassy people were not aware they were so understanding and liberal-minded about dates of entry and exit on visa applications.

But she -- with reservations -- took the form and money order, and returned a receipt, which she told my mother to bring to the cashier, at the far long end of the L. My mother took this as fairly normal and brought the receipt to the cashier, who did something or other for a few moments and returned it.

Next to the cashier I noted a sign advising, in English and I presume Russian, of nearby places to get money orders. (They don't accept anything but money orders for application fees.) The first place listed was Citibank, identified in English and Russian as a bank. The third place listed was HSBC, also identified bilingually as a bank. The fourth place was the post office, Post in two languages. The second place was Food Emporium, for which they had no classification and no translation.

Trivia: Connecticut-born Charles T Harvey opened New York City's first elevated line on 3 July 1868, on a half-mile stretch of Greenwich Street from Dey Street to Cortlandt Street in lower Manhattan. Source: 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York, Clifton Hood.

Currently Reading: The Power of News: The History of Reuters 1849 - 1989, Donald Read.