Saturday, 11 January 2014

Donetsk

I arranged with Misha on the weekend to go to Donetsk, the city where I was born. I couldn't find any of the people I knew or hung out with online, but nevertheless decided to go just to see the streets where I played, the school that I went to, the scary highway that I crossed on the way to school all on my own since 2nd grade.
I asked my mom to ask her friends if I could stay over at their house, and luckily someone agreed.
I decided to give a final try and a few days before my train, I found my best friend Yana on a Russian "facebook" site.
She called other classmates and 5 more people showed up, of whom I remembered only 1. Yana brought our 3rd grade class picture and everyone who showed up, I asked to point on their face on the picture :) At first Yana and I felt awkward. After all, we've spent every single day together, she was like a sister that I never had, and then how do you bridge 23 years of separation. How thoughtless children could be to lose their best friends so easily. We were sitting next to each other, at first not talking, but I had a feeling as though we're still as connected now as we were before. As drinks started coming, so did the memories, the words of truth, so did the tears. I told her that I only remembered her, and constantly thought of her. She told me why did I only have to come for the day, to make her soul ache. We hugged and we cried.
Other than that, everybody complained about their relationships and about Ukraine ... the usual deal. And, as it also turned out, I stayed at the house of one girl's parents :)
Ukrainians/Russians don't have a lot of money, so they don't usually go out. But once they do, it's considered to be a very special occasion, and they throw their money around like they're millioners. The same applies for vacations. With 1 vacation per year, it turns into the party of the year. It's never good to be on a vacation where Russians are, unless you want to join them of course. There is a joke already that there are very popular tours among Russians to resorts where Russians are not allowed :)
Next day the kids of the family whom I stayed with showed me around Donetsk. For some reason, Donetsk is small, the center is tiny, there are barely any restaurants or any other form of entertainment, but I like it much more than Kiev. In the afternoon we went to my neighbourhood. The school where I went to is broken down. After USSR collapsed people didn't have enough money to have children and the school shut down. The complex where I went to for my circus is grey. The huge highway is a 4 lane high speed road (so I was right about at least something) with no crossing lights or even a zebra for the pedestrians. The walk from school to home seemed like a hike, and now a 2 minute walk. Back in the day the government took a bunch of private houses, demolished them, moved the people somewhere else to build a condo for the workers or a nearby factory. It built a 17 story ugly grey building only for the foundation to sink and the building is not considered safe to live in. Glory to great USSR minds! I met my neighbours, even though I didn't remember any of them, and even managed to get into the house where I was born. We rang the door, but nobody answered, so I took a few pictures above the tall fence, which I don't understand what exactly it's protecting, when someone got out and yelled at us to get the hell out. I tried to explain to him that I was born there and that I really want to see my home. He said it's none of his business. I took a few more pictures from my neighbour's house, and then his wife came home. She's much nicer than him and allowed us in. Wow what a feeling. The house is tiny and breaking down and looks like something from pictures that they show on TV with calls for donations. But my hands were shaking, I had a smile from ear to ear and I did feel like at home. I wish I had more time to spend there, I would just sit in the garden, absorb the atmosphere and count all the trees that I've ever climbed on.

https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/Donetsk02