A flashback to the time of visa application.
31.12.13 - 6.1.14
Some of you might have the impression that I travel a lot. However, if it's to number visited countries, I don't consider myself highly experienced. Hence, I came to the Embassy of Russia in Jakarta, and got a story to tell.
With my Chinese visa imprinted on my passport, I rushed from the Embassy of China to Jalan Rasuna Said. The Embassy of Russia closes at twelve and I had only an hour left. At that time I had gone short (not my body, of course!). Taking a taxi was out of question. But returning to the main road, taking a bus, and so on seemed too much time. So guided by Nokia Here Application I sought Jalan Rasuna Said on foot, and then took a bus from there. Just to let you know, Jalan Rasuna Said is a very long street.
Actually I got off the bus on the right place. But because of panic, I didn't see the Russian flag waving to me. To make a long story a little shorter, I called the embassy. In English, I was told that the embassy was right across MMC Hospital.
Closed! I looked at my watch. It's still ten to twelve. Oh no, please! After all this rush... I wanted to cry in front of the huge steel gate in front of me.
I saw cars going in and out from the other side of the gate. Ah, maybe that's the entrance.
"Good afternoon, Sir," I greeted the security-man. "I want to apply for a visa."
The security-man smiled and pointed at the direction where I had come from. "Get in from that gate," he said.
"But it's shut."
"Just stand there."
"Just stand still, and then the gate will be opened."
"Yeah, just stand."
I rushed back with a slight doubt the security-man was right.
"Just stand still, look straight," I told myself.
Suddenly... that steel gate rolled open to my right side. Uhm, it feels like a movie scene. I walked cross the yard, climbed the steps, and was just about to stand still in front of the black glass door when suddenly a security-man popped out. I almost jumped out of shock.
"I want to apply for a visa."
Besides me, there was only one guy sitting on a sofa and two ladies sitting across. What a complete contradiction to the Embassy of China where I had just come from. I looked around, no staffs wearing uniforms, no microphones.
"So what should I do?" I asked the security-man.
"You said you have filled in the form, didn't you?"
"Yes, I have."
"Then just wait. Someone will come to you."
"No ticket number?" I asked again.
'We don't have."
I thought he was going to tell me to stand still in front of the door. No doubt, this place must have been someone's home in the past. The living room where I was, was connected to another living room a little bigger filled with bigger sofas and a TV on the wall. It was Russian news. Somewhere in Russia, snow had already fallen so thick that people had to work hard to clear off the roads. That, I could understand by watching the scenes alone. No need to understand the language. It's too obvious. On the other side of the wall hung some paintings which must be somewhere in Russia. I don't know whether the paintings are changed every season, but those painting were very "wintery": White roads and white roofs.
When I thought I was already in Russia, a room door opened, an Indonesian lady came out. No uniform. Is she...?
"You want to apply for a visa?"
"Ah yeah, yeah, I do."
"May I see your papers?"
She turned sheet after sheet. My heart beat fast. Am I or am I not going to Russia?
"Fine," she said. "Do you need express process or regular process?"
"Just regular process. It's still more than one month. There's still much time, isn't there? How long does the process take?"
"One week. Okay, 70 dollars, please."
"What? I have to pay now?"
"Sure. We take payment in advance."
"Can I use a credit card?"
"Sorry, we don't accept payment with credit card."
The second time I came, now with cash ready, there was only me and another guy in this cozy living room. When this same Indonesian lady came out, she simply asked who came first. No ticket number.
After checking our papers and receiving our payment, she retrieved into the room. For me it felt quite long until she came out with a receipt.
In the coming weeks I scarcely had the time to pick up my visa. Thinking that the lady already confirmed my papers were complete, I took it easy. However, Andrey reminded me to get the visa for sure in case there's any delay. But then a big incident happened in front of the Embassy of Australia which was not far from the Embassy of Russia. Going to Jalan Rasuna Said had to be suspended for awhile.
Trying my chance, I called the embassy asking whether my visa application has been approved or not.
"What's your name?"
"Ah, Sonja! It's ready! You can come anytime to pick it up."
Again, I was fascinated. The Embassy of China, or Japan, probably wouldn't bother such a question. Most likely they would tell me to come and check for myself.
When I returned for the third time, the wall around the Embassy of Russia had been constructed twice higher. Before going inside the living room, I had to leave my bag inside a locker, bringing in only my purse and cellphone with me. It was then when I realized that the tinkling sound I always heard in the living room came from the chandelier hung high high on the ceiling. Tinkle... tinkle... Sonja is leaving for Russia...