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відволікатися особи були введені 29/08/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Bienvenue à la Semaine de Fonctionnement, Leçons Culturelles.
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Where Is The NGO?

Number 28 Khreschatyk sits recessed from the main drag, cresting steps from where you can watch proselytizing acolytes and aging sleaze drip hair gel on teenage girls. Innumerable entries open into foyers where suspicious citizens watch silently, ignorant to western rules of eye-contact.

These troubles failed to impress Alexa, who no doubt finds the doorway of Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund as unique and distinguished as the people making a difference inside their one-room office. Distracted faces were introduced and I wondered which of these women had been victimized repeatedly by my increasingly frantic phone calls. No one had the energy to stand and slap me across the face. (more…)

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Голодомор 04/07/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Vichnoyi Slavy Park

Gilded domes swam in the pastel horizon, a suspended backdrop for obelisks and towers. Vichnoyi Slavy Park had been ransacked by Disney prospectors intent on contorting accepted standards of perspective. The cluster of monuments, basking in a rolling sea of lawns manicured by legions of Scottish groundskeepers welcomes you as an amusement park and leaves you reeling from the price of admission.

Walkways ran thick as people dared the approaching tempest to steal what sun pierced blackening clouds. Visitors were casual, staving off heat exhaustion with shorts and summer dresses, but none violated the carefully cultivated grass. Considering the gravity of our surroundings adherence to rules as submission to respect was sensible, yet no reverence was paid to any of the edifices and conversation wasn’t a somber affair. Abandon walkways and sculpted concrete benches at your own peril. Cops at Le Jardin du Luxembourg would agonize over disturbing a picnic before gently chastising offenders. It was anyone’s guess what cops in Kyiv would do.

Tourists come to gape at Pechersk Lavra, an enclave of Eastern-Orthodox churches complimenting the network of caves which have served as a monastery since the 11th century. St. Anthony accidentally founded an ascetic movement upon returning home from Greece. His teachings inspired disciples to invade his subterranean warren. His attempts at pious isolation drove him down river to build a new underground habitat, but the zealous adoration of acolytes led to architects being brought in from Constantinople who littered the land with temples. Today relics and the mummified remains of notables relent to the scrutiny of paying guests willing to adopt the appropriately misogynistic attire. (more…)

Україна ще не вмерла 07/06/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Coffee Time

Jets of foaming water danced to the pixie’s delight, charming a hapless pack of aging tourists who thought Janice and I could lead them to further enchantments. The monkey grinder plied his trade in gracious silence, the dragon slayer hesitated his delivery of death. Plastic bubbles drifted through the surface scum of their tank, failing to tempt any of the carefree teens eagerly anticipating their elevator ride underground. No horses roamed the carefully tended paths and no evidence betrayed any act of violence towards drunken imbeciles rich with brilliant ideas.

Atlantic City, our convivial breakfast companion given to preemptive fits of hiding ashtrays, insists Kyiv is European. On those rare occasions when my perpetually fractured internal clock aligned with the stars I entertained notions of a Parisian existence while propped against the counter of Cafe d’Albert. There was always at least one older gentleman in a slightly shabby suit beginning his day with a Pernod or Ricard.

The morning drinker at Cafe d’Albert soothes his shakes browsing Liberation or l’Humanité, orders a tartine beurrée, and steps away from the counter before gravity becomes adversarial. Khreschaty Park ends with a small counter bar turning a brisk trade at ten in the morning. Patrons had settled into a spread of tales with half-liters of draft, including a couple decorated members of the local law readying for their shifts. There was little talk and no newspapers. There was no food. (more…)

Готель Хрещатик 24/09/2010

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Lost in Thought

Fashion TV cast a sickly blue hue over us as we nursed half-liters of Ukrainian beer recommended by the bartender. He was a nice guy who spoke English, patiently answered all manner of questions, and took no notice of our trashed clothing.

Alienation came from more than freshly pressed uniforms and golden nameplates. It seeped through the wall of tinted glass which protected us from the harsh sunlight. It echoed through the underpopulated marble-floored lobby. It fell from competing lighting schemes and overzealous chandeliers. It was left unsaid by the neckless men stretching out suits as they slowly paced around in circles waiting for a problem they could seriously maim.

We had caught luxury by chasing thrift. Janice roamed budget travel sites and Hotel Khreschatyk satisfied our needs. All I wanted was a place that offered wi-fi and good odds that there would be no waking up in a bathtub full of ice missing a kidney. These standards proved fairly expensive despite Ukraine’s prominence on international poverty indexes. (more…)

Głupi Projektów Rolniczych 27/08/2010

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Shopping Center

Point Break did not happen. The surge protector blew when I plugged in my power strip and instead we were treated with the worrisome stench of fused plastic and wires. Lights worked but all the plugs in the apartment were shot and we could not find the breaker inside, in the stairwell, in the catacombs below.

Sitting between the communist blocks and old town is Zenit. It looks like your average warehouse retailer, until we walked inside and became rats in a behavioral sciences experiment. The interior is a labyrinth cut from seven foot plexiglass display cases. Perfume is here, t-shirts over here, watches are here and each department is autonomous.

Janice negotiated murky vocabulary with a patient woman hawking junk drawer electronics in the back. There were no crowds of bargain hunters, but our wandering was limited. The company’s website leads me to believe, by virtue of fractured google translation, that the retail spaces are leased to independent vendors. Either everyone is selling black market goods or they’re receiving some serious government stimulus to run their glossy flea market stalls.

Apparently Zenit also has a grocery, plant nursery, laundry service and “production activities in the field of carton packaging”. They say that 80% of their work force come from an employment program for the disabled. Someone’s gotta get their hands caught in the cardboard cutting machine. (more…)