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кульгава в протилежні напрямки 09/10/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Bienvenue à la Semaine de Fonctionnement.
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A press liaison from the IAEA in Vienna forwarded contact information for a St. Petersburg radiologist. The radiologist in St. Petersburg put me in touch the Radiation Protection Institute in Kyiv. An expert in dosimetry and radiation protection spoke English and agreed to a mid-morning meeting.

Massachusetts native Janice and San Francisco-born me languished in purgatory between the green and blue lines.

Hallways led to exits. Elevators led to exits. Transliterated Cyrillic led nowhere. Clocks recorded the time which had elapsed since the previous train had left. We watched a steady stream of humanity spill into the platform from a stairwell before hastening towards escape. Angry red slashes forbid our entry, but when your soul is threatened with eternal damnation you don’t follow rules. So we learned watching two deviants throw themselves into the fray and begin swimming upstream.

Connecting Lines

Skulking in their wake we charted the weakening torrent through twisting corridors which opened into a tunnel without end. The sound of shoes hitting concrete ricocheted off white-washed walls, soundtrack of our quest through Hell’s bowels. Stragglers limping in the opposing direction disappeared, leaving us alone to follow our spirit guides. Growing rumbling from the depths began to birth vibrations, but in the distance the tunnel opened into another world. Our heavenly reward.

Tortured metal screamed. The over-sized hat of law enforcement became distinct, a guard working feverishly at a gate which would condemn us to this stasis. Ukrainian rang out and hands thrashed in the air. Everyone began to race forward, apologizing profusely to the cop who stared into some middle distance, silently enduring without a betrayal of emotion.

One, two three stops on the green line were the only moments of respite. An escalator returned our mangled minds to soothing grey skies but we arrived with a fifty-fifty chance of getting lost.

The coin toss landed in our favor but urban planning was shooting dice. Streets climbed, rain fell and numbers danced from one address to the next without concern for rhyme and reason. We trudged past generic institutional buildings, pleading with their stained facades to submit to order. If we reach that park without finding it let’s turn around. Well, no, let’s go to that Маршрутки stop up ahead and see.

Radiation Protection Institute

We reached 53 Mel’nykova but needed 50/53; what concrete blocks wore numbers had thus far been assigned only one number. By backtracking we discovered that the previous building was working on its own unique numerical sequence. There were no back doors, alternate entrances, no hope of clarity to be found. Two men shared ribald jokes in the lobby, faces reddened by a lifetime of morning drinks. Janice endured an immediate round of leering Ukrainian before killing courtship with a burst of English. They struggled with our waving hands and pointing fingers, furrowed their brows over latin script and consulted one another when I mispronounced names. When all hope had been lost one of the security guards hitched up his pants and went off to find a college kid.

Multiple deviations and repeated hesitations had eaten our appointment for breakfast forty minutes ago. Our English-speaking savior seated us in his office to enjoy wood paneling, drab carpeting and long periods of polite silence. The doctors, he said, were in a meeting and not answering their phones. We twiddled thumbs, fiddled with cameras, flipped through notebooks and watched with hope as the college kid repeated calls to multiple numbers. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. More. Dr. Dosimeter rang to say we were inexcusably late and there was no time to meet now.

Janice scraped me off the carpet and thanked the college kid. We drifted through fits of drizzle back towards St. Sophia’s while my blood-pressure fought the impulse to launch my brain into space. At a cafe across from the cathedral I did my best to regroup, but the waitress didn’t give me free coffee.

I can only handle so much rejection in one day.



1. Sab - 09/10/2011

Sounds a bundle of laughs. Probably the reason I don’t live in… Where was it again? No, come to think of it there must be other reasons. Why are you living there again?

brendan - 16/10/2011

What reasons could you possibly have to avoid a life in Kyiv? It’s such a fantastic city filled with incomprehensible things in every direction. Not so great if you want to actually do anything, like eat, but it works really well for constant confusion.

Maybe I should be ashamed that I’m not living in Kyiv, but I’m too busy with the fact that these posts are covering things which happened a year ago.

What? I’ve been busy. Or something.

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