Back at the Russian Embassy
Who knows if they operate like this worldwide, but the Russian Embassy in our part of the world brings rather predictable behavior to the table. Visiting them repeatedly over the past decade, I imagined that some things would change, yet instead, they remain pretty much the same.
With a few minor changes.
If that makes sense.
Because very little of it does.
Anyhoo, here’s my tell-all, tiny list of same-old, same-old with a couple of newer twists:
1. The gate at the Russian Embassy is perpetually locked. The guard speaks virtually no English when you buzz the intercom. For better or for worse, the multitude of closed-circuit cameras surrounding the fortress help to size-up all those approaching, so it’s not terribly important for you to speak Russian to be buzzed in. Same-old.
2. Once inside, it’s a different story entirely. “Vwee gahvaree’tyeh pah-anglee’skee?” I do my own sizing-up of the security guard and the sign requesting visitors to enter one at a time. “Nyet.” Same-old.
3. I go through my reasons to be there, because the online system did not allow me to make an appointment and to show up without an appointment is “Nyelzah’”, forbidden. “No appointment?” the guard asks, and I feel like this happens every. single. time. No matter what info is given online, I still cannot figure out how to make an appointment. Same-old.
4. This year, the guard is wearing a military uniform. Used to be that these front-door, Russian security guys dressed in cutting-edge, designer suits. Now they still look spiff, but in a military, macho-way. Something new. So we chat as he and the cameras try to figure me out.
5. Now we go into rapid-fire Russian: “I have called this office 532,695 times and nobody answers the phone. I’m here and you’re here, but is anyone else alive in the Russian Embassy?” He almost smiles. “Why doesn’t anyone answer the phone???” Same-old.
7. “I sent an e-mail. No, I sent two e-mails. No response.” Same-old.
At long last, he asks for my “documenti”, which is not my file-folder filled with documents, but my passport. He writes down all of my info adding it to the list in front of him, as though I have an appointment and I start to become hopeful for no good reason.
Military man next asks if I possess a phone and I’m not fully listening, distracted by gathering my things. He continues to write, so I imagine he’s asking to fill out my phone number. Nope.
“Vweekloochee’tyeh,” he tells me and I blink. “Off,” he conjures one English word.
Not that I needed it. Whether lights or phones, in Russian, one says to “close them” or “lock them”. I knew that. But right now, I’m focused on the appointment.
So he directs me into the inner sanctum to speak with the information lady behind the glass window. Problem is, she’s not there. Nobody’s in the glassed-in office. Just a lot of restless Russians sitting and/or pacing in the waiting room. The lady standing in front of me turns and shrugs a couple of times and finally gives up and leaves.
Ten minutes pass. I watch the window with one eye, and watch Russian TV news with the other eye. Multitudinous cameras watch me with all their eyes, along with the one-way mirror against one wall.
Finally, military man enters to see what’s going on. He enters the inner offices possibly to check on where the party is. Eventually, a young blond who does speak English emerges. This is new. She speaks from behind the plate glass.
She informs me that I must make an appointment online. I tell her I’m with her 100%, but that the system will not allow me to make an appointment. She says that maybe I tried on the weekend, but I did not. I let her know that I will now pull my cell phone from my bag and show her the screen shot: “The request is not supported.”
This does not faze her in the least. She launches again into how to make an appointment online after I question if she might not just make the appointment right here and right now. Stick to the script.
She reviews the system over and over for me as though the problem is my comprehension. Yawn. Same-old. If the system worked properly, I would not be at the Embassy. I thank her for her time and within 30 minutes, I’m back online, completing yet another form, selecting my appointment time.
Clicking on the next day, 9:00 am, that is the only time I am offered. I accept it. Up comes a notice that I must respond within the next 22 minutes (no, I am not making this up!) to the confirming e-mail they have just sent. I go to my e-mail. Nothing.
I check back in 5 minutes. Nothing.
Fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes. Two hours later. Nyeechevoh’. Nothing.
Now I wonder if there is yet another trick to the tricky Russian Embassy appointment system, such as you cannot schedule a meeting in less than 24 hours? I have no idea. They offered a time, and I accepted, but without the e-mail, I have a feeling that I don’t officially exist.
Only one way to find out. Here we go again. Stay tuned.
————-Tags: Embassy of Russian Federation does not answer phone, Russian consulates, Russian Embassy appointments, Russian Embassy frustration, Russian embassy remains the same