Thursday, May 23, 2013

When Margaret Calls the Border Security Man a Pig




You get to talk to Russia's border control not only when you enter but when you exit the country as well.

The man came onto the train  at around 8 in the morning and started to question. I gave him a blank stare, seeing if I could understand. Eventually, in Russian he asked, "You don't speak Russian, do you?" I smiled and said, "Nyet..."

and then, for some reason, I decided to say something in Russian.

Thing is, my Russian is crap and I only know a few phrases. The one I decided to say was from Soviet version of Winnie-the-Pooh. I have yet to meet someone in Russia of the right age who doesn't know it.

"Куда идем мы с Пятачком? Большой-большой секрет!"
"Koo-dah idiom muy s-pyatochkoam? Bowlshoy-bowlshoy say-kret."

It wasn't until I finished the second line that I realized what I was saying... and how this was the last, last place (of all places in Russia) I wanted to say it.

To translate, I was saying, "Where are we going, Pig? It's a big big secret!"

Yep. Of everything I could say the to the border control man, I called him a pig and told him that my destination was a secret.

He still let me leave.




“Welcome to Ukraine!” the border control man said to me. He had a young face, perhaps around my age, and a unibrow was comfortably occupying the space between above his nose (right where a unibrow universally belongs). He had a pleasant demeanour as he took my passport into his hands.

As most of the border control have, over here, he looked at my passport for more pleasure than business. “Ahhh... Washington! Capitol.”

“Nyet.” I said, because Washington D.C. Is nothing like the Washington I'll forever feel tied to.

I gestured to two sides of an imaginary map, “Washington Capitol. Washington State – Seattle.”

He kept looking at my information.

“Kiev?” he asked.
“Uzhgorod.”
He raised his eyebrow[s] in surprise as the other ladies in my part of the train laughed with me. Americans generally don't miss out on going to Kiev, where our train was passing through. I told him I was going for “tourist” reasons, it's easier to explain my trip way.

And that's how I was sent off, with a “Welcome to Ukraine” and a warm smile.

I breathed in, exhaled, and gave him a full smile back. Oh, how welcome I felt. This welcome was even warmer than what I had been given in Norway. Ukraine, based on your border control guards, I think I'm going to like you.

Hey... it's Kiev.

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