All right then!

The smiling young lady at the Chinese Consulate took my forms!

Did not have to go to Happy Family Chinese Restaurant to print new copies of disapproved paperwork, like last time. The whole process took about half an hour, almost all of it waiting time. They open at 9:00; I got there at 8:55. The first couple of times I did this you took a number and sat until it was called. Last time, in Sept. for my Oct. trip, they’d done away with the chairs and numbers and had one of those maze ropes feeding all the windows. Now the chairs and numbers are back. I was C212, and when the consular officials snapped their window shades up at precisely 9:00 they started with C200. I thought that was a very good sign, until I realized C was for tourist visas, but the rest of the alphabet, for student, working, etc. visas, was getting equal time. Nevertheless, my number was called in about 25 minutes — can’t be precise because my watch is my phone and your phone has to be off. (The sign says “Please keep your phone off or you will be asked out.” I briefly toyed with the idea of turning it on, since I haven’t had a date in awhile, but good sense prevailed.)

When my number was called a young man who’d been at window #2 already and had been sent away to improve his form slipped in front of me, his form improved. That seemed like an annoying delay, but turned out to be useful: the official, an efficient young lady, apologized for keeping me waiting. I’d taken care to wear a silver sweater and white shirt, the better to bring out the gray in my hair. Luckily for me she was smart enough to read my complicated itinerary and understand that my first flight was only a transit through Shanghai to Singapore, not an actual entry. Though, on the same basis by which you carry an umbrella so it doesn’t rain, I had filled out the form twice, once for a single entry visa and once for a double entry, complete with two sets of photos. But she was happy with what I gave her, and I think it didn’t hurt that my passport already has three other China visas in it. That passport, by the way, expires in 2017, but will likely be filled and need to be replaced long before that — always a goal of mine.

The official asked me one question: what’s the purpose of my visit? I told her, to see some friends; and with that, stamp, staple, and my receipt. Now I go back Tuesday and if everything goes well they hand me back my visa-filled passport.

I celebrated by stopping at Green Nature Coffeehouse on 42nd and 11th — highly recommended — where I had tea and cookies and read another chapter in the biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Us nerds, we know how to party.

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