I was nervous this morning in particular because it was going to be the first time I attempted this mad process alone. Leave it to me to make a complete fool of myself tripping down stairs, dropping coins in a crowd, papers flying out of my hands and getting kicked out of where I was sitting. I was embarrassed on multiple occasions today, but after 9 months of this country, you learn to shake it off quickly and just press on. I was one of the first to arrive this morning, hoping it would speed up the processing of my visa. There I stood in "line" as the woman at the window responsible for my paperwork fixed her fan, cleaned her desk, organized her things...took her sweet time. The rest of us stood in a crowded room, fanning our faces of the sweat already pouring. It was only 8:30am...and HOT. I was told to return 2 hrs later to retrieve my visa. Outside, I found a "comfy" place on the ground to kill 2 hrs. I watched people from all over the world walk inside to get their visas. Two hours of people watching is nothing for me, I enjoyed the relaxation. However, I was a bit cranky when a man told me to move so he could sit where I was sitting. For once, I chose not to fight him. Returning to the window to see if your visa is indeed ready is always interesting. Of course, mine was not ready and they did not know when it would be. Flustered, but not rightly so, I left. I knew I could return tomorrow, but shouldn't have to. The thought of reliving my morning was not appealing. Let me explain further:
I decided to pay the 20 cent metro ride instead of a taxi this morning. Coffee in hand and a fully charged i-pod, I headed down the street trying to be smiling and positive to begin my day at the visa office. But the metro was not the relaxing atmosphere I had hoped for. There we all stood, crammed in the women only car of the metro. It has been a long time since I feared being able to breathe, but this morning , I was actually nervous for my safety. Tons of bodies all close together, breathing was not easy. But a moment of thankfulness for my circumstances set in when I noticed some women near me dressed in all black had even their faces veiled...I don't have any idea how they were breathing. I knew breathing for them in that moment was even more difficult than for it was for me. Not only was there no where to move when someone needed through, but if you fell, you could get trampled, and it was hot. I tried to not be " a spoiled american" about it, but it was hard. Shoving, whining, cranky women all had somewhere to be...but there was NO WHERE for me to move to let them through. But that did not stop them from taking it out on the foreign girl. I was worried I wouldn't get to the door in time for my stop. I watched as the doors quickly opened and closed and even smashed a woman at one point...she was clearly in pain...I hated that for her, but there was nothing I could do...it shouldn't be this hard. A rainbow of colorful scarves filled the metro...but was not a happy place to be this morning.
So the thought of returning tomorrow to retrieve my visa sent shivers down my spine. I would have to get geared up to face the metro, the women, and the visa office. In the heat of my anger today, I saw some women who seemed to be hurting. Their expressions said it all, life was heavy on their hearts. I watched their friends reach out to them and try to calm whatever their fears and anxieties were. Seeing these tender moments of these women was all i needed to whip me back into the reality of loving others no matter what. Deep down, we all are needy, no matter our tough exteriors portrayed. Humbled? knocked on my face is more like it.