Monday, August 23, 2010
Last week, on August 17th, Katya and I took part in a little ceremony at ZAGS in Moscow, signed the paper, exchanged rings and received a marriage certificate.
When I came to Russia I never had any intentions of finding a girlfriend, let alone getting married. I came because I wanted to see Russia, travel around and find out where the wind would take me. Well, it took me into the arms of a lovely wife who treats me like gold and also makes fantastic Russian food.
In less than two weeks the wind will be carrying me home but not before dropping me off in London, England to visit some long-lost relatives. After London it will take me to Ottawa, Canada to visit my immediate family, and then it will take me to British Columbia where, I'm hoping, it will plop me down in Victoria, right on top of a big juicy job.
Katya is excited to emigrate to Canada. Although she is a Moscow girl who has lived here most of her life (not including the first few years she grew up in Volgograd before her parents moved), she claims that she hates it here. It's not Moscow that she hates; it's living in a big city. The hustle and bustle, the noise, the pollution, the crowds...they all wear on her and she believes that a smaller town in clean, quiet, friendly and peaceful Canada is just what she needs.
She also loves animals more than anyone I've ever met. Last month, when temperatures were topping 40 degrees centigrade, Katya and I stumbled across a pigeon who had walked through some melting tar. The tar had hardened a little and the birds wings and legs were stuck in awkward positions and the animal was unable to move. With it's little head bobbing and it's beady eyes flicking back and forth it was trying to slide itself along on it's belly.
Katya picked the pigeon up and, nearly in tears, took it to the nearest veterinary hospital. The vet, a woman who looked at us as if we were crazy when Katya handed her the pigeon, checked the bird over and then pulled out a needle and promptly euthanized it. Then she asked me for 500 roubles.
Katya was thoroughly traumatized by this event for two days and kept saying how sorry she felt for the pigeon, although eventually I convinced her that at least we helped it die peacefully instead of baking to death in the sun or being mauled by dogs and cats.
Canada has very progressive animal protection laws and Canadians generally love animals and respect them, so Katya is very keen to be a part of such a society. Nevertheless, I fear that it will be the small differences in culture that will make her unhappy, such as friendly customer service and orderly traffic and professional police officers and exhorbitantly-priced mobile phone service.
What I really worry about is getting her the permanent residence visa. This stage of the game is an incredibly difficult bureaucratic nightmare. There are 88 pages of forms to fill out, each question is worded in such a way that it accuses the applicant (including me, the sponsor) of lying about their marriage, and forcing us to prove it (I thought it said somewhere in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that we were to be presumed innocent until proven guilty?). In addition to the forms we require print-outs of all our text messages and phone calls to each other, many of our photos as well as all our wedding photos, translations and notarizations of all of Katya's documents including her degree and work history, and I have to send in my tax assessments for the past bunch of years (difficult to do because I spent 3 of those years overseas).
Then there is the worst part: we have to pay nearly $1500 for the application and then, if Katya is approved, another $985 for a "Right of Permanent Residency" fee.
That will all be in later blog posts. I don't intend to finish Mission to Moscow until Katya and I were happily reunited in Canada, and even then I think it could be interesting. Like Crocodile Dundee, but about a Russian. And a woman. And there's no crocodiles in the beginning (although I wish there were). Maybe "Pigeon Katy"?