Friday, November 03, 2006

'Tolic the Drunk' takes a hit

Tolik's door: The lack of a doorknob is not al that bothersome. A padlock usually does the trick of keeping his too-drunk comrades from sneaking into his house and stealing what is left of the furniture.
I have written several times about our neighbor Tolic and the hard time he is having in life but recently he got handed. Yesterday we found a notice on his door from the Doma Prevlenye telling him that he has to pay them about $300 from back payments for his house.

I don't wish to come off as sounding as if I am all that sympathetic to his situation. I myself am more than tired of having his drunken friends sleeping in our corridor or his father coming over in his own drunken hazes and beating Tolic to a pulp. But I wondered exactly how Tolic was supposed to pay this and if he couldn't, what would become of him.

I asked him about this yesterday and he answered briefly that he would pay the money, but this is not a reasonable thing to expect. Tolic's apartment has no electricity or phone and has both hot and cold water only because the water system is shared throughout the house. A broken window in the kitchen that has not been fixed in over a year does a good job of both letting the heat out and the rain in.

But Tatyana seems to think that rather than throwing him out, the state will just do what they have done before and give him a job sweeping the streets or something like that. A job like this would probably pay him in the nature of perhaps $60 a month and the state would take from that 40% to pay for the house.

"Belarus does not like to throw their people out of their homes." Tanya said, "This is not only for the winter but all times. It is possible that they might take him from this house and give him something worse, like a single room with either cold water or no running water or toilet, but they won't throw him out."

She then told me that Tolic had this sort of proposition before when he was in arrears with his money. At that time, Tolic was a decent enough worker to earn himself an invitation to stay on and work for full money. Tolic however decided against this and used what leftover money there was to buy a few more bottles and slowly began building up yet another debt -and of course several more beatings from his father who took the news of Tolic's quitting his job rather hard. The last time Ivan Fioderovich, Tolic's father came by, two neighbors had to drag him away from his son who was sporting a quickly swelling left eye and a bloody lip. The police have had to come at least 4 times in the last several months.

So we'll see how this one goes.

Vadik's car: Being a bike lover rather than a car owner, I was actually against the purchase of this dream machine. Whether or not time has proven me right is a matter of one's capacity to understand such things.
While I am griping about drunks though, I might as well confide a bit more about our other "situation". Nina, our most overworked friend from downstairs has been having problems with Vadik, her 38-year-old son. Vadik had been in Moscow working either in agriculture or in home remodeling for the last couple of years. But this year for some reason, we learned that Vadik had lost his permit and at the beginning of the summer, he decided to come back and live again in Pinsk in his mother's house. This decision was at first greeted with enthusiasm. Vadik is a nice enough fellow and in theory, it is always good to have a man about the house to help out. At first took Vadik took some pains to find himself some local work and when this was not available, he was always there with a hammer in his hand spiffing things up in the garden or working around the house. After a while he found a pretty good job (better than $250 a month) and even bought himself a car.

And so things were looking pretty bright right up until the time that Vadik received his first paycheck. Having money in his pocket meant that he could afford some celebration and relaxation (i.e.: vodka and some wine) and of course the entourage that comes along with one who is buying. Partying of course does take its toll and just after his second paycheck, Vadik found that the company was cutting back his hours, and after the third, he was pretty much out of a job.

That car of course also took up a lot of time and money and this added to the pressure. Trying to help out, we used him several times to go out to the dacha and basically paid for his time in gasoline. We had wanted to pay him directly but Nina demanded that we never pay him in anything but gas, the rational being that if he has money in his pocket, he will drink it.

So this is what we did. The miles though were hard on the 20-year-old machine and only led to more necessary repairs. Twice while we were riding back with a car stuffed with bags of apples, we had to get out and open the hood to try to find the cause of our sudden stoppage- one of those times, we needed some help from a villager (a bit of dirt on the spark plug contact.)

Rock bottom came a couple of weeks ago when, without enough money for even a bottle of beer, Vadik went into Nina's podval and stole two bags, maybe 70 kilos of potatoes and sold them. Nina, not really having any money in her pockets had worked several days for KolHoze for those potatoes, sorting and bagging a job that is very hard on a 60-year-old lady's legs. Nina has her pension already but continues to work as she is the sole support for Egr, her grandson, a 10-year-old boy I tutor in English. Nina of course went ballistic when she found the potatoes missing (she had worked perhaps 20 hours for the two sacks which had a dollar value of perhaps $8 each) and several conversations were had as to what to do with Vadik.

Having received the message that what he had done was not appreciated, Vadik, to his credit, went to his new girlfriend for help and returned home a few days later with two new sacks of replacement potatoes and everybody became sort of calm. This lady, who without meaning to be too disrespectful is somewhere between her late 30's or fifties, and has not been very successful at keeping her teeth. However, due to a rather amazing streak of luck, she has inherited both a four bedroom apartment and some land, which is where the potatoes came from. I am not saying that I know where this new romance is headed, but our prince and his local baroness have been relatively inseparable for the last while and I would be the first to congratulate them on any nuptials.

Egr by the way has been in the hospital four times in the last year for various ailments. The last, for several days because of dizziness. The doctors decided that the cause was drinking too much water straight from the tap. Wonderful news for the rest of us as you can imagine.


Anonymous Mike Miller said...

Adam, what does Hugo Chavez have to do with antisemitism?

It is moderately ironic that tractor services are so hard to come by, because obviously Belarus is famous for its tractor production.

How much does Tolic's apartment rent for? How much would utilities cost per month?

Do you ever go to the vanya and get whipped with the birch branches?

That's it for now. Mike Miller

Sunday, November 05, 2006  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

Hugo Chavez made what is now in Jewish circles thought of as a rather famous speech back when he was touring around Russia, Belarus and all of Anti-George Bush's America countries he could find. In the speech he railed against an unmentioned group of people who, though their numbers are small, are the maniacal puppet-msters of the world who also happen to control 50% of the world's wealth. Or you know, Anti-Semite at heart.

Cool insight about the tractors.

Tolic's apartment is not his. It is a social apartment granted by the state which was never privatized. I have brought the offer to his father, who's name is on the papers as being the main resident still, that if he would sell the property to me, I would pay for the privatization papers. This deal was not taken too seriously because a) I don't have the money to do this and b) The man's a drunk without the capacity to engage in serious business discussions. In any case, it is not free for him to sell and it would also be pretty unlikely that the place could be rented legally. And even if it could, you wouldn't want a guy like Tolic to be your landlord…

And yes, I have tried the Vanya here in Pinsk. It is generally hotter than any sauna or steam you have been in, it is simply chock full of naked men (Gay stigma quotient: 0 )in wool hats who do in fact beat the crap out of each other with birch branches. It is an amazing form of health-seeking and will leave you dizzy and disoriented if you stay bin there too long. To get into ours costs about $2.

Sunday, November 05, 2006  

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