Thursday, September 23, 2010

24 Hours from Tulsa

A one-day round trip to Kyiv by train takes me 23 1/2 hours door to door.  Yesterday I applied for a Russian visa from the Consulate in Kyiv.  Left the house at 11:30 pm on Tuesday, Andrei took me to the station at P'yatikhatki where I caught the 0040 train to Kyiv.  Top bunk and hellishly hot so I didn't sleep much if at all.  My ticket was for a bottom bunk but the old Babushka and her young grandson needed it worse than I as she could never have climbed into the top bunk which was supposedly hers.  The trains are full these days for some reason.

Got into Kyiv at 7:00 am and went to McDonald's at the station to grab a couple of Egg Mcmuffins and kill 3 hours using their WiFi.  Was lucky to get a seat near a plug-in as the computer battery is so old it won't hold more than 45 minutes charge.  Took the Metro to within 1/2 block of the consulate and had the application paperwork all done by 11:30.  Cost varies with turnaround time.  I needed 48 hours so it cost me $225 USD.

Getting a Russian visa is not simple.  It requires an ORIGINAL letter of invitation, which unless you are a tourist, must be issued by the Federal Migration Service or Ministry of the Interior or some super important agency.  This takes time, which we don't have as I need at least two or three weeks in Khakasia for this project and must be out of Russia by Oct 20 OR delay the entire process six weeks while I get a new passport and a new letter of invitation.  Theoretically the letter of invitation must be requested by the client in Khakasia and issued by the appropriate office in Khakasia.  Takes too long, so the client called in some contacts and my letter of invitation was duly issued by...The Olympic Committee of Russia in Moscow.  Doh.

Went to TGI Fridays for lunch.  Buffalo wings, fries covered in melted cheese (not quite Poutine but...), Hot Fudge Brownie Delight (sounds perverted to me) and two pints of Murphy's.  The latter cost me $6.50 each which I didn't realize when I ordered them.  Flown in from Ireland, I guess. 

Now I needed tickets to come back Friday to get my passport and visa.  Friday is a BAD day to travel.  Our taxi driver friend Kostia was enlisted to help me get tickets.  Got one for the night train same as before but nothing to return unless I stay over.  Kostia knows people and will meet me Friday morning at the station with a first class ticket on the evening express.  I pay him well.

Caught the 5:45 Kyiv-Dnipropetrovs'k Express and was in P'yatikhatki Stikova station by 10:00 and home by 11:00.  I leave again tonight at 11:30 pm to repeat the process Friday.  Two full days of my time* to get a visa for a project that does not yet have a contract.  More Doh.

*A traveling salesman is walking down a country road, and passes a farm. In the middle of the field he sees a farmer, standing under an apple tree. The farmer holds a pig in his arms. The salesman stops and watches as the farmer walks around the tree with the pig, and holds it up so that the pig can eat an apple right off of a tree branch. Amazed, the salesman sees the farmer lift the pig so that it can eat about four apples in this manner.
“Mr. Farmer,” yells the salesman, “wouldn’t it take a lot less time if you just put the pig on the ground, and let him eat the apples that have fallen off of the tree?”
The farmer pauses in his work, turns to the salesman and says, “Well, maybe, but really, what’s time to a pig?”


  1. Bureaucracy is the antidote to large-scale unemployment, perhaps.

    Glad you're getting the paperwork settled.

  2. Hope all goes well getting everything arranged. With your letter of invitation you may end up competing in the Olympics.

  3. That is a lot of work. Glad to know you are getting it all done!

  4. Got my visa yesterday so am ready to go when they give the word.
    DC, I thought about that but they don't allow comedy routines since Eddie the Eagle in 1988.

  5. I'm thinking synchronized swimming!


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