Another litre of still water, please?

January 31, 2007

So, I’m crammed into a tiny, packed coffee shop on 65th and 5th trying to tuck my elbows in enough to be able to type withoutpass1.gif assaulting the women on my left and right, while smiling sympathetically at Ivana Trump who is struggling to find room to remove her coat and scarf at a table across from me. (Upon reflection, the sympathetic smile is probably more that she was married to that, well, challenging man. Though, by the looks of things, she’s doing quite well. God love ya, girl.) Today is the fourth time I’ve planned to spend the day in NY applying for a visa at the Indian consulate, with each prior attempt failing for weather, a stomach bug, or an Indian holiday. This one is still clearly up for grabs.

I made it halfway to the city today, all the while forgetting that the dog was in the back of the Jeep; she was scheduled to spend the day playing at the vet while I’m out of town. I was on the phone making, cancelling and rescheduling appointments and plans for the next 9 days and working on wedding stuff with my friend and hit the highways, unthinking. I simply forgot RileyJane was on board. Eek. I’m just so scattered these days. Turning back around meant I reached the tunnel a full hour later than I expected to, and between police barrier redirects, an accident, and construction, it took me another hour to get the 25 blocks to the consulate — 10 minutes before the door is locked against new applicants. Parking garage hell meant beginning the sprint with four minutes to spare. It’s freezing and windy today in New York, and the running set off asthma symptoms that I haven’t had in years. I tore up the marble steps of my destination and wrenched the door open, noting in passing the small brass plaque above the doorbell: Consulate General of Serbia and Montenegro. Shit.

More running, more wind, more wheezing, and much cursing … couldn’t I have managed to glance up at the ?&%*?! flag from down the block? The SERBIAN flag… which in NO WAY resembles the flag of India. Two blocks later, I’m in tears and having a full-blown asthma attack, as I tumbled down the basement steps of the Indian consulate. (The extravagant former manse I had hoped to explore above, that once belonged to the Astors, is apparently reserved for dignitaries. Livestock below, please.)

In a space the size of this coffee shop, 200+ foreigners and Indian nationals pressed together shouting at windows and staff I am too short to see. The crowd moved as two distinct halves, divided by notebook paper signs bearing indecipherable instructions. My face crumpled and rare tears of frustration threatened. Then… such relief when a small kind gentleman tapped on my shoulder and told me I had to find the “tall blue man” and “get ticket, quick.” “Blue man?” Searching by shoving, I found said blue man, he was out of tickets, the eyes welled-up again, blue sympathy ensued and a ticket was magically produced. Number 175. Above the sea of winter hats I saw a small red deli counter sign… Now Serving: 7. “Out in the cold with you” the blue man says, pointing to the door. “Make room. Come back.”

So, here I sit, making room, trying to find more things to order so that I might justify my table in this busy shop for a few minutes longer. Then back out into the cold, and back into the dank basement room to take my place among the crush of hopefuls. A taste of things to come, from all accounts. And still — I really can’t wait. I’m going to India.


One comment

  1. Holy crap! What a freaking challenging day! I can’t believe you mustered up the energy to blog, but I’m so glad you did as I’ve been wondering, “Isn’t Kara leaving, like SOON??” Well, I for one will be sending all my most positive thoughts and prayers that you are shuffled forward to get everything done that you need today. Thanks for updating with details of this kind, these are the things that go along with a journey of this ilk that always go unsaid. You know, the important but cumbersome stuff that would have been good to know. Good luck, you!

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