Saturday, April 12, 2003

Day three

OK, as I mentioned, I went to the theatre and we had a big meeting about the play. There was one actor who was there that I think would be perfect for papa. He is a big man, with white hair and one that goes this way and another eye that goes the other. He has such a deep and powerful voice, and he fills up the room because he is so big. Last night I talked to Tatyana about how I thought he would be perfect for Papa and I think she agrees that he would be good. But he says that he is playing another part right now, and that he has so many lines to learn, but I am going to try and to convince him to play papa as well. There is no girl at the theatre that could play Nadia though and this is also a problem. The girl who was going to play her is pregnant now, and you know, it is hard to be a perfect girl if you are pregnant and not married and with two boyfriends as well. I know that the theatre likes to stretch people’s imagination, but maybe this is too much. Tatyana knows another girl who she thinks will be perfect for the part. She is the daughter of the director of her bookshop. She is a little young for the part, only 16, but Tatyana said that she is quite tall and beautiful, and that she might be a good choice. We can try and talk to her next week.

The people at the university say that they want me for a teacher, and that they will help as soon as I get the papers for working here. This is not the solution to the money problem, not by a long shot, but it will of course help a little and it will help the town a lot! I don’t even think they have an English teacher here. No, that is not true, they have some, but I don’t think there is a native speaker here at all. Leonid, the director of the University, called another of his teachers in to help talk to me, but she only spoke French. I tried hanging with her, but it seems the space in my mind for a second language, which used to be filled with Spanish and French, has now been completely imperalized by the Russians. But I did get the point and I will be working on this problem of getting a work visa at the start of next week.

After lunch with Tatyana I went out to the velocipede school and I met with Victor and with Sergei. These were two of the three guys that I was supposed to be making a business with here before Zareba etc…etc… I found the younger of the Sergei’s still working there, and after we shook hands, he went and found Victor, who is no longer at the school but who works at the clock factory across the street. I am afraid that Victor doesn’t look so good, kind of gray in the face. I think it was good for him to be with the kids. He was the mechanic for the Bike team but he only made forty dollars a month at the school, and he simply couldn’t afford to continue to work there. So he took the job at the watch factory because they offered him $90 a month. I told Tatyana about this and she thought that it was possible that they pay as much as $90 because the factory has been there for a long time and it is possible that they could pay so much money. He told me that the older Sergei died this last October. He was in his fifties and his heart simply went out. I was sorry to hear this. He was a nice man and a great bike man. He was the one who presented me with the flag as an honorary Pinsk Researve Bike team memeber. Tatyana’s next-door neighbor also died this last winter at about the same age. His liver gave up. And Tatyana’s Papa has kidney problems and her Mom really doesn’t look so good. I don’t know the statistics but I think it would be a good guess to say that the life expectancy for Belarussians is pretty short these days. I think it is the hopelessness that gets to everybody in the end. I told Tatyana that I see that there is something off about Victor and I told her that I blame myself for letting him down about the business. She says that he didn’t really believe in what I was saying when I said I wanted a business with him. And he showed me a good smile when we were together. But I don’t believe either of them. Sergei says that He can buy some mountain bikes for about $100. I told him I would see what I could do. At the moment, I haven’t a clue what I could do.

I got back to the house at about 5 and I had some time with Igor before Tatayana got back from work. We played three games of chess and then watched a movie. He beat me twice again yesterday afternoon. The second game though was not really his win. Well, it was but I also made a really stupid move along the way. So he got me twice. But, we played a third time and I got him on a simple gambit right up the middle and won in eight (8!) moves. He quit playing after that. Well, he didn’t quit after that game bit after my running around the room and cheering and waving my arms... He didn’t like that. But then, I didn’t like it when he was making farting sounds when he was beating me either. I can't say anything bad about him: the kid is good. I just really hate losing to a seven year old. The score of our match is six wins for me and four for him.

Today I am off to the Market to get some things for the house. I noticed that there were no pickles in the house. Tatyana told me that some workmen were here during the winter and that one of them probably noticed that the food locker was full. Her mom says that one of them must have came back at night with a car and stole thirty banks (big jars) of pickled cucumbers and cabbage. She says that she saw the footprints in the snow and guessed that it must have been one of the workmen. She says that she went to the police and told them what had happened, but that they didn't do anything. I told her I was going to the market and I asked her if she wanted new cucumbers or pickles. She said pickles would be good, but that I should only buy one bank. I shouldn't spend so much money. But when I was walking with Tatyana to the book store this morning, I also found out that the government took away the families dacha space. This is the family plot of land where they could grow their vegetables. They have had this land for their whole life, but the government needed to build something and they took it. Tatyana says that hey can get another plot, but the old one was very close to town and they would have to go very far to get to the new one. I asked Tatyana if there was any compensation coming to them, but she only laughed. She told me that when the Soviet Union was here, they gave everyone money, and everyone had money in the bank. But, when everything changed, somebody came and took all of the money from the banks and so the people had nothing. Between this and one million percent inflation, it means that no, there will be no compensation for the lost potatoes and cucumbers, even though that dacha accounted for a good percentage of the family’s food. I am also going to buy a bank of pickled tomatoes. I don't care what Irene says: I like pickled tomatoes.

I am supposed to go and drink a bit with Victor this afternoon. I am not so sure about the drinking. Tatyana doesn't like it when I drink and I don’t know that we have any reason to be happy. And I do feel bad about not coming back with the money like I said I would but I don't think that they think badly of me. I don't think that they think I took the money. But really nothing good happened in Poland, and I couldn't help. Tatyana tells me that Victor would be OK without me but I haven’t figured out how to get out of this drinking yet. Anything I say will be seen as a lie. I didn't drink with the Polaks. There was never a reason to be happy with them. And they always lie. I guess I’ll try and buy some kefir for the house when we go to the market. Kefir is like magic the next morning after you drink vodka. Really! It is one of those wonderful things that makes you feel better even when you feel as bad as it is as possible to feel. I defanately think I should get some kefir.