A rather mundane day, today.
Skittles has a half day of school on Wednesdays (except for the once-a-month Free Wednesday, which is coming up next week). Baboo never has school on Wednesdays (Ahhhh! Bliss!). So she lounges and sleeps late.
Skittles' passport is due to expire in February 2010. Assuming we are still around that long (in today's economic crisis climate, nothing is certain), we are renewing our 12-month visas in April . . . which means her passport needs to be valid at least until April 2010.
So off to the US embassy we go. All four of us. Because when it is a child applying for a passport or a passport renewal, both parents have to go too. And Baboo gets dragged along.
I had not yet been inside this embassy. Generally, I hate going to the embassy. The security measures. The fear I'm going to be there when it gets blown up. It's more the tedium than the anxiety. But still. At best, it is inconvenient.
The Spouse intended to meet us there, but a phone call delayed him. Since Skittles finishes school at noon, I was worried that the girls would be faint with hunger. When we exited the Metro at Barrikadnaya, I looked for a kiosk selling something I could
1. recognize and
There's always Crap Dogs, but I'm not a fan of the crap dog. Outside the Barrikadnaya Metro are a lot of food vendors, especially those selling kebabs and Armenian-type filled breads.
The day was gray and drizzly. The girls and I settled on a vendor. I looked at the sign. The kebabs looked good. But it seemed like a conversation-intense endeavor ("Do you want A? Or B? With X? Or with Y?"). I didn't want to have to struggle that hard.
The Armenian-type filled breads seemed safer. I could not determine how to say the item stacked behind the kiosk window. But I could see from the big sign over the kiosk window that I had choices: with meat, with cheese, with meat and cheese, and some other option I was not interested in deciphering.
"Which one do you want?" I polled the children.
We all voted for "with cheese." I can say "with cheese."
Baboo tried to sound out exactly what the bread product was called.
"Screw it," I said. "I'm saying 'Three. With cheese'."
We agreed this would work.
I approached the window. "Hello," I said in Russian to the nice lady inside. "Three. With cheese." I gestured towards the stacks of bread to my right.
"Kebabs with cheese?" She gestured to my left. Where the kebab meat was. She seemed confused.
"No. This." I gestured right. That made more sense to her. I don't think kebabs generally come with cheese.
"You want these warmed up?" she asked.
Oh, thank God. I understood her.
Yes, yes, that would be cool.
"You want rfkhjgfhr gfhqoi? A little bit?" she asked.
Huh? Uh oh. I am stumped.
I turn to Baboo. "Something, something, a little bit?" I ask. Baboo shrugs. She is stumped as well.
"I don't know," I tell the lady sadly.
Apparently it was not crucial. She felt my pain. And took my 60 rubles.
We ate our Armenian-type breads in the rain, waiting for The Spouse who, now freed from his phone call, said he would meet us at the embassy.
Now, the problem I was anticipating was the photos. I already had pictures done of Skittles while we were in Bratislava because I knew where to go and how it works. Yeah, there is a photo place on the corner here that I walk past every freakin' day. But I've never been in there. I've been to the little booth in the Tesco in the Bratislava Old Town a million times.
Except Dude there cropped the photos too small. What, exactly, is 2 inches by 2 inches in metric? I said, "For passport" and, Dude, he understood. And her head was big enough. But they weren't no 2 inches by 2 inches these photos. No siree.
I showed them to the Nice Man at the embassy. And, to my surprise, he gave me the address for a nearby photo place, complete with instructions in Russian (turns out it is 5 cm by 5 cm). It was the kind thing to do, but, honestly, I did not expect that from my embassy. Color me impressed.
I had looked for a photo place while walking from the Metro to the embassy because I suspected I would need one. But these small businesses are often tucked in the basement of apartment buildings or accessible through courtyard passages. I knew enough about Moscow to know one would certainly be nearby and that I might have a snowball's chance in hell of locating it on my own. So having Nice Man hand me the address was a huge help.
Because, sure enough, you had to walk behind one of those gigantic apartment buildings to find the door, which led us through a rabbit warren in the building basement. Yes, there were signs on the front of the building (and no, the basement was not at all scary). But I could have wandered that neighborhood for hours without stumbling on the shop.
So we got photos. I took them back to the embassy. Nice Guy told us it would be two weeks. Then we went for sushi. Because The Spouse was hungry. And who doesn't like sushi?
Later, coming out of our Metro on the way home, I saw a woman selling strawberries. 250 grams of strawberries for 100 rubles. Today that's $2.85 and a BARGAIN! I bought the same size package in Bratislava last week for a euro (which is these days $1.20), I swear. But what can you do?
I bought some. The girls and I ate them with wonderful Russian sour cream (only 15 percent fat this time . . . I usually buy something richer).
I hope she's there again tomorrow.
The story of the strawberries was what I sat down here to write about. How I got off on the other details escapes me. Maybe it's the wine?
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
3 years ago