Russian red tape

This item appears on page 61 of the January 2011 issue.
This is subscriber only post.
Get one year of online-only access — only $15!
Below is a sample of the article.
Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is IRVING E. DAYTON of Corvallis, Oregon:

In 1967 my wife and I flew to Moscow on our way to scientific meetings in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Our intention was to spend a few days in Moscow and then go to Leningrad by train so that we could see something of the Russian countryside.

At that time, the Russians had no absolute prohibition against foreigners traveling outside the major cities, but they certainly did nothing to make it easy.

After finally finding the office where we were supposed to be able to get the train tickets, we were shunted from person to person. Eventually, someone told us that we had to speak to the person “over there” and pointed across the room to where there were four desks side by side with three women sitting behind them.

I, naturally, asked, “Which one?”

The response was, “The one who isn’t there.”

After about 24 hours of stubborn persistence, we did get our tickets just a few hours before the train departed. ‘The one who isn’t there’ has become a family mantra in difficult or complicated situations.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Tell ITN about the funniest thing that ever happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. The ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

This month’s winner is IRVING E. DAYTON of Corvallis, Oregon:

In 1967 my wife and I flew to Moscow on our way to scientific meetings in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Our intention was to spend a few days in Moscow and then go to Leningrad by train so that we could see something of the Russian countryside.

At that time, the Russians had no absolute prohibition against foreigners traveling outside the major cities, but they certainly did nothing to make it easy.

After finally finding the office where we were supposed to be able to get the train tickets, we were shunted from person to person. Eventually, someone told us that we had to speak to the person “over there” and pointed across the room to where there were four desks side by side with three women sitting behind them.

I, naturally, asked, “Which one?”

The response was, “The one who isn’t there.”

After about 24 hours of stubborn persistence, we did get our tickets just a few hours before the train departed. ‘The one who isn’t there’ has become a family mantra in difficult or complicated situations.