Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Great Day

There we were all lined up in our Sunday Best - the Mayor with his sash of office and even unbroken new spectacles. It was a beautiful day, with the temperature in the low 20 Cs
It was the 10th Anniversary of the visit of Prince Charles to Mosna, and it would be marked by the dedication of a plaque.
The party the night before had primed us all nicely, and one or two had started the celebrations first thing in the morning,so there were a couple of people who where swaying slightly. Fortunately, we got through the whole thing without mishap, and then made our way to the City Hall ( for thus the Village Hall is designated) for a three course lunch - quite early too it was only about 4pm.
I say three course lunch. This is not entirely correct. We started with meat-ball and tarragon soup, followed ( naturally) by Mosna cabbage salad. This is the time of year it is best -still greenish and sweet, rather than white and more bitter as the winter rolls on. There was of course tuica, beer, cherry liqueur, wine and a sour cherry concoction that literally stripped the inside of your mouth. As it was a special occasion, Ballantines whisky was also available to those and such as those. This seems to be the preferred whisky, I think because Queen Victoria used to drink it, a lady held in great esteem in Romania.
The next course was a kind of fried white fish, which I was assured was a dog-fish, but I'm not convinced. It was quite sweet and most tasty, especially with the sauce - tomato and garlic - and some boiled potatoes.
Next up was the piece de resistance.
Ham and turkey jelly.
Now there are many people who will go " Yuck!" at such a prospect, but I am particularly fond of chicken jelly - something Mrs. Lear abhors, so I never get it. Needless to say I tucked in with a will. I'm quite sure one of the reasons everyone is so friendly towards me is I eat everything put in front of me and do my best with the various drinks.
Long before we got to this stage, the Director of the Old Folks Association, who was one of those who had partaken early, had quietly slid beneath the table with a beatific smile on his face. He would just be left there until he woke up and made his way home. I am a member of this association, honorary until I turned 60 but now a fully fledged member. We gifted them the grapes from one of our properties and they keep giving me bottles of home made wine.
Finally the special local cheese was consumed and the serious business of toasting each other could get underway.
Alin, myself and the Mayor had to slip away early as we needed to sort out some property titles.
I was asked the other day how corrupt Romania was.
I think the answer is;what is corrupt? Taking half an aid contract to your back pocket definitely is, but suppose someone has a problem ( something wrong with a property title) and bureaucracy being what it is in Romania, only a powerful friend can sort it. Is it wrong to take a payment for sorting such a thing? Lawyers do it every day....
Anyway, a visit was made to the lady in question. She and her husband had jointly owned a property and when he died she inherited his half. In Romania this is shown as her owning half the property from the date of purchase and owning the other half from the date of the grant of the equivalent of probate.
Except the state official who had given her the new certificate had messed it up saying she owned half and the other half was owned by her husband - at a date after his death. You may say how had noone noticed before now. The answer is why would anyone read it? At the time she would have had no intention of selling. Such a mistake is seriously expensive and difficult to sort out in Romania.
The only one who could help her was the Mayor, who could give a certificate in respect of the death of her husband ( such things are locally held) stamped by the Mayor's office, the regional capital's office and the land registry. And if you don't know the actual person who will be wielding the stamp you can forget it.
Quite properly, he outlined the problem, told her what the various costs would be. She, knowing what was expected, thanked him profusely and offered a percentage of what she was selling the land for for his time. Quite properly, he declined, saying it was his duty as Mayor to help his constituents. Quite properly, she then said she would make a donation to his reelection fund.
Honour being satisfied on all sides, we departed with the various papers. By the time I'm next in Mosna, I'm sure all will have been corrected.
Oh, and just in case you are wondering, the re-election fund is the Mayor's private property.
If he retires, it goes with him....


Brian Boru said...

A most entertaining account, for sure.

I have a theory that Southern and South Eastern Europe are more 'corrupt' than say, Germany and Scandinavia. I include France, especially Southern France in the former category.

If this is true, I wonder why? Maybe Catholics have less scruples about matters commercial?

kinglear said...

bb - it may be the forgiveness aspect of confession. But I think it might also have a lot to do with the actual bureaucracy. Where its really longwinded and difficult to get something official done, it makes sense to "grease the wheels" to get it done quickly.

Winchester whisperer said...

Do you wear sunglasses in these meetings?

kinglear said...

ww - ha! no, I smile benignly, unless Alin digs me in thr ibs - in which case I scowl....