Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I felt rather misplaced twice today.

First, when listening to NPR - one thought that ran through my mind was, "Where is Ukraine?" It's very strange to realize that while I'm interested in hearing about "their" issues, "my" issues are 100 percent irrelevant to them. Not bad, just weird. Even weirder, though, would be to imagine lots of Ukraine-related content on NPR. Ha.

Second, I felt misplaced while watching a very strange broadcast from the city mayor's office on the city council's channel (it made me spend about half an hour glued to the TV tonight). A hundred or so people were being publicly presented with apartments here in Kyiv: their names were being called out and they were being summoned to the front of the large auditorium, handed flowers, chocolates, and the keys, and their new addresses were being announced to the whole city (a bit too careless, I'm afraid), and some were asked to stay and tell everyone about the miserable, subhuman conditions they've been living in up until now, and then short videos of these ratholes were being shown.

Shocking, most of it. Shocking, because it's 2006, not 1976, and because it's still pretty much a norm to live like this, several generations in a tiny apartment, in the same room, often, and some of these people have been waiting for more living space since the late 1970s. Kvartirnyi vopros is as relevant today as it was then.

Mayor Chernovetsky is, of course, exploiting these people, giving himself positive publicity, etc., but... it's not what you're thinking about when you're watching it. Only once, when some poor guy thanked God for this new apartment, the city council woman with a microphone elaborated on his thought: like, yes, thank God for directing the authorities toward this great decision (the mayor and his religious beliefs is a separate topic, of course).


In other news, I tried to have Marta's name written into my foreign passport today, so that we could travel to Moscow without any problems at the border. What's needed is a photocopy of her birth certificate, a letter, and less than 20 hryvnias ($4) paid at sberkassa. Sounds easy, but it's not.

A bitch at the passport office informed me that "the boss" wasn't likely to accept a hand-written letter, that it had to be printed - and that this would cost me some money. She was probably offering me her services as a typist this way - intimidating me into begging her to type the letter for me - but instead I asked her where it said it couldn't be hand-written. Nowhere.

But I didn't get to see "the boss" today because I had to make the payments, so I went to the sberkassa - the one we used when we were setting our wedding date last year. Sberkassa is like a bank, only there're always lines there, because this is where everyone pays their utility and phone bills. I came there around 1:30 pm, half an hour before their lunch break, when, according to them, their computers get turned off automatically. I spent 15 minutes filling out two payment forms - a torture. I stood in a pretty long line for ten minutes. I made it to the cashier's window just in time - only to be told that there should be my tax identity code in one of the boxes on one form, yet another multi-digit number, which I don't remember, of course - and without it, there's no way I can pay them my goddamn 8.50 hryvnias ($1.70). The other payment, 10.47 hryvnias ($2.10) can be made without the code, somehow.

I'll have to go there again on Thursday. Bastards.


  1. Goddamned Bastards to do this to you. Are all the services there as messed up as this one ? Kind of makes one wonder what kind of life these people behind the counter have. The fact that you were there to give them money seems not to matter to them at all.

  2. Maybe the "boss" was out drinking instead. LOL. I remember trying to get my daughter's passport issued in Kyiv 4 years ago. The "boss" who had to sign & stamp her passport, had his birthday. So a general with the Army was in his office having a drink. This delayed us 2 days. Then the next day we sat outside near his car waiting for him to come out so we could get him to go back in & sign it. Instead he left & went drinking. We somehow missed him. It was very frustrating.

  3. Somehow my memories of my last visit to Pecherskiy OVIR were amazing--the was a list of people I put my name on, went about my business, returned right before lunch break, almost missed my number being called but people in line LET ME go in front of them, even though I was the last one served before the break. Everyone was quite polite.
    Also, I always pay all my bills at the OschadBank (sberkassa) at Globus--they're open until 10pm and no pensioners go there to collect their pensions.

  4. Ohhh the post-Soviet bureaucracy. My thoughts are with you.

    So at least one American has been thinking a lot about Ukraine lately -- a Ukrainian classmate and I just got finished writing a paper comparing the Orange Revolution and the Belarusian situation. I've learned so much.

  5. Maybe God will turn her attention next to the world of sberkassa. Or perhaps, as Borat might say, NOTTTTT!

    As for a lack of Ukrainian content on NPR, just talk to Sasha about that one!

  6. Can you imagine what is happening in local passport authorities all over Ukraine?
    Soviet style bureaucracy with a free market economy.
    Just bad USSR empire's heritage.

  7. Forgive me, but it is "bastards," not "basterds."

  8. Neeka, I also feel so sadly about your father. I know how poor the Russian as well as Ukrainian healhcare systems are. My thoughts are with you.

  9. oy, it's terrible, anyse. thanks for pointing out - and for writing.