Our real answers to the “Purpose of travel” item in the visa application form
1. Amok prevention. We love living here, but this city keeps pushing and pushing and pushing us and if we do not take a break we will snap. Take this morning. Please. In sane traffic, it would take us no more than ten minutes to get to the embassy for our appointment. This morning it took us an hour and a half, and the only reason the taxi driver agreed to drive us was because we bribed him. (Yeah there are taxi apps. Same principle: They’ll drive you if you’re willing to pay more. And the “kontrata” system is now legitimized as “tips”. In effect we are incentivizing asshole behavior, but people just want to get home safely and with the least aggravation.)
2. Sanity maintenance. We are very, very, very, very, very tired. We haven’t had a proper vacation in years. All our trips have been work assignments. In fact the last real vacation we had—”real” meaning we could do whatever we wanted and we didn’t have to say nice things about the trip sponsor or shut up when something went wrong—was eight years ago, in the same place.
3. Perspective. We love our country when we’re somewhere else and can think about it objectively.
4. The horror of sameness. We need to feel like an alien in an alien land. It makes us think better. Here we only feel like a freak. A bored, enervated freak.
5. The comfort of being in a place where people read books on the train—good books—and cafes give prizes to the best novels written on the premises.
What we wrote on the visa form