Saturday, June 17, 2006

Week in Review

This not being able to access from home is difficult, especially with the World Cup now in full swing and keeping me tied to the television at 2, 7 and 10, if the quality of the match-up warrants it.

A lot has happened. Let's see.

I interviewed a Florida man who'd been to Russia and Ukraine a handful of times since arriving to this part of the world for the first time on a romance tour last fall. "I'm the mushina," he'd say, I'm the man, when describing how he'd act if the woman he was willing was too strong-headed, insisting they cross the street this way, for example, instead of that. "I'm the mushina." He had one very interesting story to tell, revealing the ways in which an agency might scam its customers, so I'll be sure to write more on that later. The agency he first used was Anastasia, which I continue to hear nothing good about whatsoever. He now visits the country solo, having made connections with various translators and drivers through his previous agency-facilitated visits. They introduce him to women, perhaps showing the businesses growing within and without of existing business, a matrushka doll of businesses.

I interviewed a Ukrainian-born man whose family runs a marriage agency in Kharkov. He's Jewish and spoke to me of his culture's tradition of arranged marriages, of which his agency is the latest development, he said.

I visited Belgorod and Moscow and, in the space of thirty-two hours, completed the first four of the five steps to a Russian marriage. The fifth step (getting married, the step that keeps on giving) will take thirty-two days (and god willing last much longer), as there is a cooling off period between marriage request and marriage ceremony. The various steps took me through various Russian and American bureaucracies, saw me get documents registered, notarized and apostilled. I also paid a bribe, there being no other way to apparently get done what I needed to get done. I shouldn't say bribe. Did I say bribe? Strike that. I paid an unofficial fee in order to better facilitate the speedy processing of my paper-work. I will say no more. Not until after the marriage certificate is in my hand. "Don't worry about it," I told My Fiancee. "I'm writing a book. It'll make for a better last chapter. And who knows, next year maybe I'll write it off on my taxes."

What else? I'll be going to visit the owner-operater of Kherson Girls on Tuesday, and may be on the road till Friday, though I'm not sure where I'll spend Thursday, if anywhere yet.

Oh yeah, the US got drubbed by the Czechs 3-0. But there is hope. I predicted a win over Italy (before seeing Italy play) late last year. Now the game is minutes away and I'm gone.