THE LONE BLACK IN ST. PETERSBURG, ??. EP. I


“Speak Russian”, she said with a stern look. I have been standing in front of this counter for over 13 minutes and my feet were beginning to hurt. She hadn’t said anything after I gave her my passport and other travel documents. She did not ask me any questions, did not tell me why I was still at the counter looking at her while she refused to make eye contacts with me. Her colleague in the next counter had looked through the documents of Russians and other whites and given them the pass, close to 7of them, and I was still waiting. She looked over my head, then to the left in a stare, and when I finally asked, “is there a problem, something wrong with my documents?”, she looked at me with spite and angrily asked that I spoke Russian. She is very rude, this customs officer at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. She was at the very beginning when she sharply asked Josh to leave us alone. Josh is about the most welcoming Russian I had met so far. We met on the Emirates flight to Moscow. He sat next to me to the left and told me about his escapades…the safari trips and how he’d been on a flight for 14 hours due to a few inconveniences, “I trust Emirates, they are very competent so I’m sure the delay must have been due to a very serious hiccough”. His accent was not too bad, his statements were clear enough to be heard and understood. He has been to Ghana too. The first thing he asked after we exchanged greetings and I had told him where I was from was to know if I were an Ashanti or a Fante. I found that very impressive. I told him I was Fante and he said his colleague who had convinced him to make that trip to Ghana had ended up getting married to a very beautiful Fante woman and she was excellent in the kitchen. I looked away with a smile thinking to myself, “well she’s Fante, duuuuuh”. I really wished I could tell him that but you see, he’s Russian and wouldn’t be up for the fight, he just wouldn’t understand. This kind of argument is best ventured with a Ghanaian, if you know what I mean ?
So Josh offered to stand with me at the counter, at least to make sure I was safe and well taken care of but the woman behind the counter rudely asked that he stepped aside. I thought she was just doing her job but now I feel she clearly wasn’t.
18minutes of standing and a different customs officer, female too, approaches and asks that I followed her. She leads me to a seat and asks me to wait. Now the waiting is getting interesting. More people are being led to this sitting area and all of them can speak Russian and so they are able to put across their grievances. I sit here still waiting and joyfully receiving the spiteful glances from the Russians proceeding to the counters. Their children will smile and wave at me and I’ll make funny glances back at them, sticking my tongue out and opening my eyes wider while doing so to look like a caricature, and they’ll laugh some more and their mothers will pull them hastily from the scene.
20minutes later I get called by another officer, a male this time. He leads us to a different counter for a short interview. I answered all questions confidently and presented all my documents, and gave out the number and address of my host family. He calls Lina just to confirm if they were expecting me. He later takes the documents and asks that I go back to my seat. While there, he calls on others one after the other and takes them through this short interviewing session.
Few minutes after, I’m led to a different counter and my immigration card is handed over to me. Finally! And the man at the counter was nice to me.
So I safely move through the tiny gate on my right to the baggage claim. Now I’m confused, I’m I to pick up my baggage from here or I’d just have it at my final destination, Petersburg? Well the Emirates attendants said that I’d have it at my final destination so let me just go ahead and look for the information screen to spot my gate number…

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