Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Last Saturday, my fiancé and I met up with a friend of mine who is visiting from Switzerland at the Vernisash.

After walking around, we sat down at the Vernisash outdoor café for a cup of natural juice and reminisced about the past, today’s condition and what waits us in the future.

My friend has “non-native” written all over him and I would even go so far as saying that he could pass for a non-Armenian, thus the beggars were frequenting our table and my friend feeling sorry for their condition was handing them out money. Not the small change, but what you could use for a meal or a bottle of booze.

I’m guessing that there is a begging ring at the Vernisash, as we had so many of them walking up to him. Following the one legged man and him giving him a handful of money, I asked him what he was going to give when the headless man comes by?

Being that my friend comes from one of those well known Diaspora families that always gets shaken down by the government to give to big projects, he is well know among the Diaspora, thus many Diaspora tourist were coming up to him to say hello.

One Diaspora-Armenian tourist after saying hello, told of a problem her family was having at the OVIR.

According to this women, her son or nephew (I really didn’t quite get the detail on this and my friend didn’t really know) was getting married to a native girl and they were having problems getting her exit documents, which are required by the United States INS.

Initially she told him that they would not even take their request for the exit document, but later her daughter told me that they went and they did take the request, but told them that it would take 2 months to complete.

She was asking my friend if he had any connections at the OVIR to speed up the process. My friend introduced me to her and said that I live here and maybe I could be of help to them.

I explained to her that there is a good reason for the delay of up to 2 months for the exit papers. This is a process to see if the bride to be has any outstanding debts, warrants and the likes. It’s a standard process in every country.

She asked me if I knew someone there that they could maybe pay a rush fee, as they wanted the newlyweds to travel back to the US together at the beginning of July.

I said no, the only fee one could pay for such a service is a bribe.

She said yes, they are ready to do this if need be.

Fortunately for this fat slob of a women and her sister, I didn’t smack her over the head with my plastic chair (which for some reason, ran through my head), but told her in a not so nice tone of voice, that paying a bribe is not good and causes harm to those of us that live here and we would not want to see the Diaspora who always talks about law and order to feed into the problem of corruption we now have thanks to just such things.

The groom commented that this was not the problem, but it was the traffic police that was the problem with bribes.

No I said, it starts from the top and goes all the way to the bottom of the chain.

Well she didn’t like that answer and quickly finished the conversation, excusing herself.

I’ll find out from my friend in the next couple of weeks of the newlyweds made their way back to the states in July, or if they are waiting until the end of August to celebrate her arrival to the US.

If they did get back in July, I’ll be publishing my findings, including their names, addresses and blood types in the papers here and in the Diaspora, in an article about the effects of bribery and who feeds into it.

No comments:

Post a Comment