29th June 2007
One of the first questions I've usually been asked by every group of students I've taught from the 4th Grade to Upper Management is "Are you married?" Next comes "Why not?" followed by "Will you marry a Mongolian girl?"
Finding these questions increasingly difficult to side-step, I've decided to change my answer to them, permanently. So if the paperwork is all in order, by this time next week it will be Mr and Mrs Ulaanbaanjo.
We've opted for a Soviet Bureaucracy-themed wedding at the local district government offices. The preparations have been entertaining. Firstly, my fiance had to get her mother to send paperwork from her home province allowing her to register as a citizen in UB - this came via a micro-bus passenger who arrived at 3.30 in the morning (and kindly phoned us at 2.30am to tell us that she'd be in our neighbourhood in an hour or so). This proved to be only the beginning of a landslide of forms and affadavits needed: we have had to visit three hospitals this morning - one to get our blood-type tested and to give a sample to be checked for HIV. Another to have our chests X-rayed for tuberculosis and the last, to have our heads examined by a rather shy-looking young psychiatrist. Good news from that last visit is that I am now certified sane, which is something of a relief, and contradicts much that has been opined in my direction over the years.
More tiresome are the proofs I need to provide from the UK: a clean criminal record and proof that I am not married. The criminal record should fortunately not be a problem as I happened to bring a Criminal Records Bureau check with me from my last job in the UK. But how do I prove that I am not married? In vain I argued with officials that in the UK it's recorded that someone is married, not that they are not married - there is no record to have confirmed. The British Embassy in UB shrugged their shoulders and offered to publish bans of marriage for $250 (3 times the national average wage to insert our names and print out a form - that's service!) Eventually it was pointed out to me the benefits of Microsoft Word and the fact that bureaucrats here just want to see the form in front of them and tick the correct box.
So all that remains is to get a letter from my employer confirming my good character, a form from the Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens confirming that I haven't breached my visa status in any way, and a statement from ourselves confirming our love and affection, and come Tuesday - well - wish us luck.