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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Back at the Russian Embassy

190px-Russian_ePassportEverywhere we go, we create an international incident of some sort. Filling out the online form to renew our kids’ Russian passports is adventure enough. We did it last year for the boys, and now the girls needed theirs renewed after five years in the US.

As I’ve explained numerous times how to apply (hit the “search” button on our site for Russian Passports), you must fill out an online application. Typing in Russian is not my forte’, and naturally, the operation times-out after one-hour. So, be quick about it-!

After the online form is successfully submitted, you phone or use an online system to make an appointment. They never answer the phone, and the online system brings up “error” messages, as though you’d better rethink this idea of renewing the passport….

Meanwhile, the website says that you can just show up on certain days, at certain hours. So we did, piles of documents in hand.

Wrong move. But our family lives nearby, so, no biggie.Registration Application Form

In we walk with everyone but Petya, our oldest, who works most days these days, inbetween his college studies. We make quite the striking entourage. In we stride through security, buzzers blaring while I assure the suited Russian man in Russian (how I wish our own TSA could look this snazzy) that, if I don’t have any pockets, I certainly can’t be hiding anything in my nonexistent pockets.

He agrees. I like him.

We proceed to the glass-boothed receptionist who asks why we don’t have an appointment. Informing her that their own website says to simply show up results in her saying that you must have an appointment and here’s the number to call. She can’t help us.

“But they don’t answer the phone, and the online appointment-maker gives an ‘error’ message.”

Embassy_of_the_Russian_Federation_in_Washington,_D.C“I can’t make appointments here,” she repeats.

“I understand,” I nod, knowing I have just been condemned to hell.

“Minoot’ichkoo,” she holds up a finger, makes a call, asks me a few more questions in Russian as I flip through our documents, trying not to drop them before Sashenka our youngest emerges from the waiting room to help me. Basically, I’ve been abandoned as the rest of the family watches Russian TV as well as Russian Passport-appliers. There are many young couples with babies who must need passports. The lady asks when we would like an appointment.

“Next Monday?”th

“Can’t do Monday,” she says.

“Tuesday morning?” I request.

“Nyet, Tuesday afternoon,” she insists.

“Sounds wonderful,” I agree and thank her profusely, happy to play Russian roulette. I love this lady.

Returning at the appointed time, I tell the girls to look nice.

th“You may need to have your picture taken,” I advise.

“But we have our passport pictures. Papa took us to get photos,” Mashenka reminds me with all of the earnestness of a 16-year-old.

Which makes me laugh hysterically, raise my eyebrows and suggest, “Be prepared.”

I’ve been in this film before.

So here we are again at the Embassy. This time, no security, but a different lady in the glass booth. I tell her of our appointment, she checks the last name, and waves us in.

Before long, we’re called into a semi-private office by a Russian rapid-talker who confirms, just in case, that we speak thRussian? We come to the understanding that our Russian is better than her English, and off we go to the races. As she reviews our documents and asks the same questions as already printed in Cyrillic on our application, I show the girls the photo booth.

“Let Mashenka go first,” I counsel Sashenka who has no lipgloss, so I give her some. That is the extent of her preparations. “Watch what she does.”

And then they call Sashenka’s name over the loudspeaker-! Great.

Into the booth she goes. We hear The Voice direct her.

thShe’s told to relax. Look at the light. Sit up straight.

I love these people, that could be a sermon for life.

She exits the booth and joins us again at the table. The lady helping us is somewhere else, for all we know, she’s The Voice on the intercom, so we ask Sashenka how it went.

It’s only then that we hear The Voice again, “You may now exit the booth.”

Whereupon we all burst out laughing. All went well and within two months we should have the passports. With 10-year expirations, the next time our kids venture inside the Russian Embassy, they will be in their mid-twenties, probably with no parents in tow.

The end of an era.

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