Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Kiev 1

I'm waiting at the gate to Kiev looking at the Ukrainian couples. Everywhere and all I see are beautiful women, amazing figures, fashionable cloths with high heels, perfect eyebrows, lips, skin, hairstyle, jewelry are next to short, fat men. How do they find each other? Is there really such a problem with men in Ukraine/Russia as I've heard? A lot of men are alcoholics, impotents, only women are sent to cities to study while men work on fields and factories, and it creates such a dis-balance between the sexes that women will jump on the first one who is available? I wonder how I'll feel like walking the streets of Kiev with my sports pants, sneakers and no make up. Betcha it's gonna be fun :)
Arrived at an empty airport, tried to call from some phone, but it didn't work. I went to information service where a young lady was chatting to someone on her phone barely looking at me. I told her that I need to make a phone call. She told me that these phones are only for internal use. Then I need a different phone I tell her. She tells me there is no different phone. Ok, then how can I make a phone call? Finally she tells me that if I go to a different terminal, I could buy a local SIM card in there. Thank god that I had USD $50 with me, as my bank card doesn't seem to be working here. My phone battery is dead, and laptop battery is dead. Dad gave me a wrong number of a person I needed to reach and I had to wake him up in the middle of the night to get the right number. 2.5 hours after arrival, I finally made it to a bus that goes to center. I tell the driver to stop the bus at a square.
- But I can forget
- Can you please not forget?
- If you talk to me the whole way, then I might not forget
- Ok, I'll remind you again in half an hour.
I got a very good impression of customer service since my landing.
Kiev is considered to be a very beautiful city, but all I see is grey streets, broken down roads and buildings that haven't been changed since the communist times. I wish it was summer so that the trees will hide these hideous buildings. (As they sing in the song: be careful what you wish for, cause you just might get it!) Everything is in Ukrainian which I don't understand. I think the government pushes for that. Commercials, signs, radio ... but all people speak Russian. Weird.
All day I've been listening to stories about why Ukraine is dangerous. Don't go here and there, don't walk alone in the dark, don't talk to strangers, walk around men and police, never say that you're from Canada, never use ATMs, always go to the bank. There are a lot of pedafiles, just last summer 3 girls from the neighbourhood died; I won't allow you to go to Donetsk; even to walk to the main street on March 8th (international women's day) is dangerous, there is a lot of police, and if you look at them the way they don't like (or they might come up with a reason why they don't like you), straight into their car, into prison to get beaten up. On and on and on it went ... In the half year that I spent in Ukraine, I haven't felt in danger at any time, well except walking in a complete darkness home cause there are no lights on the street. I think if you're negative, you'll attract negative situations to yourself, or you'll just see everything in a negative light.
It feels weird cause Misha (grandmas bf) and his daughter Ira, are not my family, but they treat me like their family. Feed me till I can't get up or walk anymore, gave me warm cloths, cause all I have is beach wear. Her kids are amazing, smart and sweet. I look and listen to all that, and I feel sad. People don't live here, they survive. You can't be weak, you just not going to live. Her ex husband is a diplomat. So she and her son is well known in the neighbourhood. Her son already told everyone not to touch me. And while she was contemplating whether to go to the main street or not for the festival, he said, what's the big deal, one call will resolve it all. She told me when they got divorced, they had a fight, he came to her apartment with an axe, broke the door and was chasing around her. She called the police, and once they came, he let them know that he's a diplomat and they left without doing anything. Half a year of trouble going from place to place, nobody does anything. He comes to visit every Saturday for half an hour. I asked her why he won't come more often, or take the kids somewhere for the weekend, she told me that she can't demand anything from him, as he said that if she'll demand anything, there she'll find her grave. At home she does everything with tremendous speed, within half an hour, huge lunch of pork ribs, salads, sandwiches, stuffed eggs was served. Dishes were clean, cloths were drying. It's like pictures of handy men with 10 arms, or Hindu gods, here it's Russian women. They don't look and probably don't feel like women anymore. In these moments, you learn to appreciate Canada, where men appreciate women. Where they help around, where they care, where there are fair divorce laws. In the hospital, had to give a doctor a bribe to get in, otherwise it's not allowed, and even that was only for 5 minutes. Money money money. You even need to give a $300 bribe for a kindergarten to get in. I don't know ... I think my character was formed, but I think it's still too weak for Ukraine. Probably in here I'll get steel nerves.
My perspective is changing - I'm looking at Ira: always busy, always tired, always unhappy, always negative ... bad life in Ukraine makes people like that. Then I'm listening to her words, "I don't need any help". "Do you want this or do you want that?", "Go, relax, I'll do everything myself". Her children wear cloths just once before they go into the laundry. Her apartment is always clean, and every weekend she cleans the whole thing herself. One thing I learnt, is "if you think you can do everything yourself, you'll do everything yourself", you have no one but yourself to blame, and if you are always tired, unhappy and sad, all you have to do is look in the mirror. We create our own lives.
She was talking about the seasons - "First it rains, then it's heat, then it snows". You can think of it this way, or you could think: first the flowers will bloom, then we'll do BBQ in the park and go swim in the river, and then we'll go skiing and cuddle near a fireplace. I guess everyone has his own way of thinking of things.