03 April 2006

New York City Trip Part 2: Murphy's Law

Where did I stop the last time?

Ah, on the part where I was stalking the opening of the Philippine Consulate General. I was in Barnes and Noble, after buying Philip Glass' CD, I plopped myself on the carpeted floor of the bookstore, just as the other people have been doing. I was directly in front of the consulate building, and I see people coming and going.

I was reading my novel up until around 8:45 AM, when I decided to stand up and pack my things. I then crossed the street and announced myself to the doorman. It was a funny moment, at least. I saw the people applying for a passport, visa, etc, announce themselves in Tagalog. They immediately talk to the doorman, who happened to look Chinese, in Tagalog. I on the other hand talked to the doorman in English, without a trace of Filipino accent. He then replied in English. Obviously, he was not very fluent. I then switched to Tagalog. He was quite surprised.

When the clock hit 9:00, I was called to come up to the third floor. I announced my presence on the clerk on the third floor. Apparently, my godmother wasn't there yet, but her secretary let me in, and gave me the necessary diplomatic memo that I am supposed to carry to the Czech Consulate General to help process my visa. I left the Philippine Consulate around 9:20. The Czech Consulate accepts visa applications from 10:00 onwards, so I thought I would stroll my way to the Czech consulate. The Philippine consulate was at 5th Ave. and 46th St., while the Czech consulate was at Madison Ave. and 82nd St. A good 40 blocks. I decided to walk, since I had plenty of time. I passed plenty of famous buildings, like the Rockefeller Center, the New York Cathedral, the Radio City Music Hall, Times Square, and Central Park. I saw the typical Manhattan condos, with the front entrance covered with a tarpaulin, and a doorman.

I arrived at the Czech Consulate General at exactly 10:00 AM, and I was the first applicant. The officer was a kind lady, and she looked at my documents, and she said that I have all the documents that I needed. But something happened. I became a victim of Murphy's Law.

While she was flipping through my passport, checking whether it still had an empty page for a visa, the unthinkable happened. My photo suddenly became detached from my passport! In an instant, my passport became defective! She then told me that she cannot issue me a visa because my passport is defective. So I told her that I would rush back to the Philippine Consulate and ask for a new passport. But I also told her that I might not be able to make the cut-off time of 12:00 noon. But she was considerate, she gave me a private number, and she told me to call until 2:30 and tell her whether I will be coming back or not.

So I immediately darted out of the building, hailed a taxi, and I went back to the Philippine Consulate. I again announced myself, and the secretary saw me, wondering why I was back. I then showed her my passport, and even she was surprised at what happened. So she immediately told the passport processing officer of my problem, and gave me a passport application form. Now here comes the unbelievable part. I was so fortunate enough to carry not just one, not just two, but three extra photographs with me. They need that for the application. So I gave them the photos, I had my thumbprints taken, and I filled up the passport renewal application form. In thirty minutes, I got a new passport.

In the meantime, my godmother arrived, and we exchanged greetings. She asked how my family was doing, and so we had a little chat.

When my new passport was ready, it was already about 11:05. I then called the Czech Consulate and told the visa officer that I will be back, within around thirty minutes.

I paid fifty dollars for the new passport, and I then hailed another taxi to take me back to the Czech Consulate. I then gave them my new passport, altered my visa application form (because the passport numbers are different now), signed my initials, and then submitted the documents. I got my groove back. She said that I would expect my passport to arrive in the mail around April 12.

When everything was finished, the time was already around 11:45. It turned out that I still made the cut-off time. I then headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was just a few blocks away, to meet a friend.

But then, again, this is getting long. So I'd stop here and continue tomorrow. How's that?


  1. My, my, my...but at least you got to have a new passport quickly, eh?

    This is getting more and more interesting...

  2. Max,

    I know. Otherwise, I would have been stuck there for a long long time.