Thursday, August 26, 2010

Unscheduled visits...

It's Wednesday morning, a little before 7 o'clock. I am going to try and pick up a little where I left off. Tuesday was supposed to be an off day because I actually have students coming today, the first class day of the year. I had a thought that Tuesday was going to be a soft day and that I could use it to do some light things, such as setting up the internet in the office, but as that didn't happen, it started kind of a chain reaction of difficulties which didn’t settle down until late in the afternoon. Difficult day.

I had been promised that Tuesday was going to be the day that the phone people were going to come. Cleaning and tidying, tidying and cleaning led to nothing and by about noon I was pretty much obsessed with where the phone company was. So I decided to go over and see what the story was for myself. Earlier that morning I had called Sergei who is, along with his mother are the actual owners of the apartment. Nina though is in Moscow picking up Egr, my long time student, who has been with his mother all summer long. Though I would much rather work with Nina any time (I had to spackle the doors where Sergei had earlier saw fit to use his fists on them), With Nina on he road, Sergei is the guy who is in charge. I called him in the morning to remind him that it was the phone/internet day and that he would be needed probably to sign something when the phone guys came. He told me he would be in and around the house all morning, so this was grand.

However it was now 12 o'clock and the phone company still had not come and so there I was, hobbling over to the phone center to ask them directly what the problem was. At the service center I was shocked to find that I should never have even waited that day because no money had been paid, no statements had been written, no requests for any phone people to do any work had been scheduled and basically, there were no plans in the works for anyone to come out to my address to put in a phone.

Why, I asked, can this be? I specifically put money in Nina's hands to start this phone program on the first day that I was here a week and a half ago. Having to do my deal here without access to the internet is extremely irritating because access to seats at the internet club is limited and the quality of the computers suck and the walk over these days is a pain in the ass, etc...

Well, none of this mattered at all because what I wanted was a damned phone and if this meant doing the paperwork for a second time, it was not that big of a deal. If Nina had in fact paid for something and the phone company had made the mistake, she would have a receipt and we could just cash that back in. And if of course she messed up, the actual situation as I understood it, I needed to get the process started already because not having reasonable computer access was driving me crazy.

So it was time to get Sergei, but when I tried to call him, regardless of how available he said he would be, the man was completely unfindable; I couldn’t phone him, he wasn't at home or anywhere around the apartments or at the market. Normally, I try to keep a good and level temper because losing it is bad for business and screaming and yelling doesn’t help the learning process any, but for the next couple of minutes I did use a few good words about Nina and Sergei and the phone company, though I am not really sure that the phone people are to blame.

I was at the market in search of Sergei when I got a call from my friend Uladzimir. Uladzimir is with the Viasna human rights organization out in Brest (you can check them out by clicking on their icon located on the right sidebar). He is a very serious man, one of their main organizers and has been one of my best friends since I have lived in Belarus. As for myself, as you know, I have not necessarily been opposition bound. This is usually because I don't believe that their anarchistic platform does any good for the state; they are more interested in shouting about the president than they are in saying what specifically would be better. But I do like and admire Uladzimir and he is a friend who rarely gets to Pinsk, so when he called me I jumped on my bike and pedaled over to where he was sitting under a tree in the park next to the Piervamayskaya market.

Uladzimir’s purpose in coming was to try and get a better foothold in Pinsk. He had a couple of friends with him and when I showed up, the first thing he needed was to see the leg. I had been visiting with him just days before I got sick and it was a shock to see what had happened so quickly. I really wish he would have told me earlier he was coming. He was hungry and I wish I had been better prepared, but we decided that we would go to the stolova, a cafeteria over on Sovietskova. He was willing to talk about my situation with Anya and is connected to the lawyer who is helping me on that case.

I suggested that we also meet with Sasha, a rather outspoken entrepreneur I know who works at the Leningradskaya market. Sasha is a very, very vocal supporter of the opposition and of entrepreneur's rights. He himself has been put through the ringer by the government and has needed to pay various extraneous fines and payments over the years, none of which of course he counts as being fair. He is also friends with other businessmen who have had similar run-ins with the state and worse. I am also a believer that the individual businessman should be more respected here but in actuality, I personally have no problems with my own teaching deal. The niche which I have fallen into is very reasonable for me and though possibly an unusual situation, I like to keep a low profile. I have no complaints with the stat except was concerns the Anya situation.

After lunch, the last half of which was spent talking about what sorts of tactics and strategies might be needed to attack that situation, it was about time to go and get Anya from kindergarten- it was Tuesday, one of the two days that I am allowed to see her and wanting to meet her, they agreed to walk over with me before heading off.

Rather than coming upstairs, they decided to wait. There is a nice cake shop next door to the kindergarten, this is the same one I used to have a film up about- thanks Columbia records! But when I got upstairs, I was not allowed to take Anya out because they told me I was too early. This limitation of exactly when I can take Anya from kindergarten was put on me by Tanya last year and it has been vociferously demanded that the kindergarten be aware of the court's decision. Specifically, it was only 3:45 and the teacher told me that I had no rights to take the girl out until 4:30 and was asked to come back in forty-five minutes.

Now this was pretty irritating, as you can imagine. Firstly, their enthusiasm for their actions sort of pissed me off; she was obviously enjoying having a reason to stand up to me. But what was worse is that they didn't even know that the court documents actually read 4:00pm.

But in any case, here was a kindergarten teacher literally standing between my daughter and I and the door. I put up an argument that we were talking about 15 lousy minutes and that there were people waiting and really, what was the point of the demonstration? She argued back that she didn't want any problems from the mother who could write a complaint saying that they had not followed the rules by letting the girl go too early. But I asked her: Why was she making such a fuss over a few minutes? And what is more, why was she demanding to make a fuss in front of my daughter, further driving home the point that I had no rights to help my daughter in her life. I mean really, where do the rights of the father come in to play? Why were my ideas about child rearing counted as being inconsequential next to Tanya’s? And really, who is Tanya? What does she do in this town that makes her so great? Does she help people? Does she give people jobs? Is she a lawmaker? Does she spend time with old people, volunteer at the hospital or sponsor children’s soccer leagues? Is she an artist or an intellectual or a cultural maven? I mean really, who the hell is this woman who has people jumping through hoops just to fuck over my life and my daughter's childhood? And why for G-d’s sake would this kindergarten teacher (who claimed to speak English but couldn't to save her life) take the trouble to physically block my road, demanding that my daughter be shown that her father should not have any say which could not be counteracted by her scandal mongering, spiteful and incompetent mother? And what is worse, I added, what would she do if she found out that her actions could most likely be categorized as happily aiding and abetting mental and physical child abuse- this last just in case the thought that I might be telling the truth ever entered her mind. And there were two guys from Brest waiting downstairs to speak Anya about starting legal proceedings against Tanya for exactly this sort of bullshit!

Nothing got through. She wouldn't move. And she was smiling at me.

So by means of an alternative, I went downstairs and asked Uladzimir and his friend to come up. This was probably not necessary and they really didn’t want to, but the idea that there was supposed to be an interview needed to be made clear to the kindergarten or at least I thought so at that moment. By the time we got upstairs though, the director of the kindergarten had found the latest court documents and lo and behold, I was at least right about the 4:00pm time. It was by then 3:55 and I suppose with an eye towards fairness, they waved us through, fuck you very much.

We stopped at the piano in the downstairs corridor to show off Anya’s talent a little and after she answered some questions. Yes, she liked her father. Yes, she would rather live with her father. No, she doesn't like living with her mother. Yes, her brother beats her and yes, her mother has told her that she has no rights to talk about that or be with friends or with her father except at certain times. Yes, her mother has asked her to lie about certain things or to see things in a particular way rather than be able to speak her mind, which is her father’s preference. And yes, she is forced to live all alone, locked up in her house with no outside contact except via her mother, without any stimulation, and regardless of how this has affected her. And no, she cannot talk to or ask anything of her mother.

Sad moment. Point made but a sad moment and probably not a pleasant one for Uladzimir who still had several stops to make along the way. I guess we'll see if there are any reasonable legal results as this all progresses. Don’t ask me if I believe in this or not. I am down to prayer at this point.

Actually, the rest of Tuesday night was pretty interesting (and a little happier) but I think I am going to have to get to that tomorrow because I don't really have time right now. And I am a little worn out. This blog writing really takes it out of you.

More soon...


Blogger EEEC said...


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Monday, June 20, 2011  

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