DAY 10



Wednesday, July 14, 2004       11:00 AM


We were told fortunately that Gena Grigovna, Deputy Mayor of Litin, would accept our interview, therefore, we visited her at her office.  It was on Wednesday, 11 O'clock in the morning.  Her office was located in front of city hall across from the state road where the old Pervin residence once stood.

I perceived that this neighborhood was the central district for the city administrative public offices.  At the entrance of the Deputy Mayor, old pictures of city Litin were displayed on a bulletin board named "Nash Litin."  I felt relieved as the city apparently welcomes some sort of publicity in the name of Litin.


And yet I was disappointed when I encountered, initially, a cold welcome as we were ushered into the Deputy Mayorfs office.  Our treatment was that of insignificance as we were introduced to Ms. Gena Grigovna.  I silently cursed the bureaucratic murmurings of all government officials – they are cut from the same cloth in both the East and West.  Yesterday, we had encountered the same attitude at the state archive office in Vinnitsa and the official state office at Bagrinovtsy. I had to dramatize our situation once again.  I used my experience as a newspaper reporter 40 years ago.  I needed to bluff a bit to create an easier environment for an interview.

I told Vlad in English leave everything up to me and just translate whatever I needed to say.

I said: We came from California on a civic mission.  Litin, this city of yours marked indeed on the map, however, no further information about this town is available at any state offices whatsoever - practically none.  My wife is a descendent of the residents who once lived in this town.  She was raised hearing of so many historical significances contributed by this city.  There are so many cities in the US and Western Europe which are celebrating the independence of the Republic of Ukraine and now they are hoping for friendly commercial trade with every town via commerce offices. Unfortunately, we have encountered only difficulty in our dialogue for the civic communications across the globe because of the bottleneck caused by this bureaucracy.  We do not represent any government.  Nevertheless, our aims are to create a bridge between our cities. You must realize the fact that all the descendents in the US, Canada and Israel are now looking forward to know about your city perhaps even more enthusiastically than people who lived in your Republic.

It worked! Deputy Mayor Grigovnafs face brightened and she even expressed her agreement by nodding deeply with my words gbottleneckh and  gthe bureaucracy the Republic caused.h

The rest of the conversation went very easily.  We just watched as the Deputy Mayor opened her safe next her desk and took out publications and photographs of the official events including the city profiles and history and handed them to us. Further more, she picked up her telephone and announced her directors of Archives and Library, respectively, and announced our arrival and ordered them to cooperate to meet our needs. The voice of the queen had spoken!  We became suddenly VIPs and were escorted from one office to another.

We were escorted out of the building into the backyard of the building. The State library stood immediately behind the Deputy Mayorfs office. It was dark outside despite it being only a few minutes past noon. The rain cloud covered the sky and appeared to be reminding us of late afternoon.  Any moment it would start to rain; I felt extremely insecure.  The low fever I was suffering would not appreciate the wetting of my body by the rain.

There was a crew of six women at the library – they ranged in age from mid-twenties to late-forties.  They were sincere and helpful. We spent more than two hours selecting the old newspaper or magazine clippings and bulletins and copying the article of particular interest to our research. This was particularly difficult as the articles, naturally, were in Cyrillic and we had to guess as to which articles would be most helpful – with a bit of help from Vlad, who was helping to sort the pertinent pieces of information by reading them quickly.

I felt exhausted and was becoming very weak.  I could hardly concentrate. I was listening to Vlad as he translated the title of articles piece by piece, handing to Heidi what I thought to be important and she passed them onto the crew of five to copy the materials. We were a systematic team!  And yet, I started getting confused as to which piles were the useful articles and which was the ediscardf pile. At one point, I was do overwhelmed and felt that nothing was useful and placed a chronological chart of old Litin into the ediscardf box without even study the chart.  Heidi scorned me then. 

gWe finally arrive in this town after three long years of preparation and thousands of miles, Norimih said she.  gYou would helplessly regret it you gave up at this point.h

I acknowledged what Heidi meant.  We continued our work for another hour.

It was then when I noticed Heidi becoming extremely nervous.  I looked at Heidi who was staring at my face intensively and asked if I would escort her to use the facilities.

It was our mistake to trust the state accommodation just because it was an official building. We had assumed the facilities would be more tolerable than a public toilet.

One of the women took us to the backyard, where stood an outhouse of unknown age. I saw a shadow of insecurity on Heidifs cheek. We both knew it was too late to return, therefore, I let Heidi go into the shack while she made an intense smile on her face.

While I had expected her to immediately exit the shack, I stood there while more time passed than it should have.  I almost knocked at the door of shack when she finally came through the door with a natural looking smile.

I was very relieved.  Our escort raised an umbrella for it had started to shower and ushered Heidi back to the library. Since I needed to use the facility as well, and having seen Heidifs safe return, I was relieved from my cautious mind and went ahead also into the shack.

Well, I must explain my physical capabilities in terms of my sense of smell at this time. I had lost my sense of smell completely while I was in China during my childhood. I experienced extraordinary circumstances where I witnessed pilings filled with rotten human corpses in the streets of the town.  For the duration of a few months, I panhandled by selling fake cigarettes to Russian soldiers walking back and forth along those streets. Since that time, I lost my ability to smell.  I remember the smell of food and yet cannot smell food in reality anymore. 

I, however, earned an additional sense to substitute the smell – sensing smell through the mouth. When I eat food, I learn to taste its smell therefore I can prevent eating something spoiled with the first bite in my mouth.

So, back to the inside of the shack -  I could not sense any odor, and yet, I felt immediately that I should not stay there due to its incredibly hostile environment. I looked down and saw a dark square hole of a bottomless well.  A pair of 2x4 planks of wood created a bridge on the top of the hole. I assumed one had to step on the planks to do his business. My pair of eyes recognized a sea of green sludge lying at the bottom of well.  I trembled. Fortunately all I had to do was to unzip the front of my pants, I closed my eyes and let nature call and quickly got out of the shed. The same woman was waiting for me and raised her umbrella for me. 

It had been many years since I spent such a long time doing research at a library. I realized my backpack was completely filled with copies of articles.  There was no more space.  It was time to conclude the dayfs work.  Paying for the copies, I tipped some bills to those who assisted us. I also offered a monetary donation to the director for the library.  I realized we might have done something unusual for the library; as we left the entire crew came to the outside steps of the library to bid us goodbye.

There was one other reason why I had to discontinue our work.  I simply worried for my dear Heidi. To get back to our hotel in Vinnitsa, it would take at least a couple of hours.  I, therefore, knew I had to find an open area for Heidi where she could hide and finish her unfinished business. I told Vlad to drive us to the outskirts of town.

Heidi knew the expression of grunning into bushh yet had no experience doing it.  We learned in Kiev that an open area of a building was cleaner than any indoor facility. She knew what I knew and where we were going.  She hesitated and yet she had no choice but to give in to mother nature. We crossed the state highway, walked to a shaded spot near an abandoned old building.  She used all the possible obstacles like tall weeds and buildings walls to hide herself. My assumption was right - she just pretended to use the library facilities.

I had to ask her about that incident as to why she stayed in the shed so long.

gWhy didnft you come out immediately?h

gBecause I didnft want to offend the woman attendant.h                         

I agreed with her.  I would have done the same.  Normally, I would not tell this type of story, but I needed to share it to plant a seed about the notion of the three gShs, to be explained later; a civilizationfs need for Safety, Security and Sanitation.

There was one more state office introduced to us by the Deputy Mayor, the state museum. It might have been too late to visit the office, however, we decided to visit and greet the director considering she might have been expecting us. It was some ten minutes past after 4 Ofclock.

The museum was located at the eastern entrance of the city.  We previously missed visiting the museum during opening hours last Saturday.  Although it was still some time before closing, that is, 5 Ofclock, the museum was still closed. That fact confused us a little, but we were ready to go back to our hotel for a good bath.  Seated back in the car, we returned to Vinnitsa filled with stories of the day.