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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. (more…)


багажу і беззмістовність 02/10/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures.
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Hopelessness and despair had shattered my mind, leaving me unfit to lead our band onward. Janice, grizzled road warrior and freshly settled Eastern European that she is, saw our rattling wagon’s destiny with a chasm and ripped the reins from my lifeless hands. Hostel Yaroslav witnessed our plight and offered salvation, in English and with online booking. Elbows sent morning commuters scattering and saddlebags were heaped onto the blue line heading towards Podil.

Sunk beneath the tangled convergence of streets which comprise Kontraktova Ploscha is a subterranean warren of twisting corridors, fluorescent tubing and grim storefronts. Frequent excursions through the underground passages of Khreschatyk had not prepared us for the intensely claustrophobic rat-maze in which we had been deposited. A lower-class of street vendor populated this den already narrowed by walls. Directions to the hostel had been provided, but the piece of paper on which they had been copied proved useless. Exits to the land of sunshine and air lay in all directions, but which direction did they lead?

Métro stations in Paris can sprawl. They twist and turn. There are multiple points of entry. Conscious of the displacement caused by traveling beneath streets the RATP as chosen to number and identify each stairwell as well as to provide the essential Plan de Quartier.

Metro stations in Kyiv force you to crawl from the depths of hell into a frightening and unknowable realm of shysters, cops, cheap consumer crap and impatient masses. (more…)

У Києві, у відповідь Ні 13/09/2010

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures.
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Soldiers carrying machine guns and vomiting elves constitute the dregs of a fourteen hour train ride through hinterlands. Mosquitoes swarmed and hospitality mirrored a Tijuana drunk tank but this stagnant sardine-tin on wheels afforded a slight solace. Resignation reigns supreme when you have no power over destiny. Behind the sealed windows a team of smuggling railway matrons knew our plight as daft idiots and, while they probably didn’t want to be bothered, they were determined to ensure delivery to Kyiv. Passing the cramped confines of the services compartment stained by years of coffee disasters, plastic cups and rolls of paper towels strewn about the floor, would find us on our own.

What the hell do I know about Ukraine? I went to highschool with a Ukrainian. As we sat in the back row during graduation ceremonies he decided to reveal why his family shipped him halfway around the world for a poor education. His friends sold drugs, encountered some tough competition, and were massacred. Cops found him laying in the street.. Do I want to see the bullet wounds? No, but he stood up to show what the uzi had done to his ass anyway.

According to the Poles the Ukrainians will steal the bread from your mouth.

Standing on the platform scratching heads seemed like a terrible idea. The signs are in Cyrillic and lack arrows. Clusters of mustached men were scattered about, peering intently at the disgorged horde. They could be watching for loved ones, they could be watching for marks like us– no way to know for sure. All I know is that they grew up with uzis, rampant alcoholism, Soviet overseers, and an economic depression deeper than the decaying pits where their black hearts once pumped pure acid. Follow the crowd, and if Janice decided to attempt any print-out aided transliteration I probably would have screamed. (more…)

Modes de Navigation 27/03/2010

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris, Leçons Culturelles.
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Place Denfert-Rochereau

Nothing exposes tourists like hesitation on corners. The entire native population of Paris is genetically hardwired to safely navigate intersections, roundabouts and narrow one-way streets. There is a plane of consciousness from which I am disconnected. Little old ladies bravely venture forth to confront speeding cars while I stand patiently, and foolishly, waiting. (more…)

Habitudes Nocturnes des Parisians 29/11/2009

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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Nights out on the town share certain universal truths but Parisians are unique creatures. Postcard scenarios are available to all world travelers hoping to idle away an evening sitting outside the innumerable cafes or stroll arm in arm along the Seine but the kids here play by their own rules.

Dehors dans les Rues

Bar Crawls:
Blessed with one of the most comprehensive transit systems in the world people think nothing of crossing the city to meet at a bar. The fact that this assigned location varies little from anything in between Point A and Point B is irrelevant. After meeting your friends outside a Metro station you’ll proceed to the chosen establishment and not go inside. Even if it’s cold and raining. There will be an alimentation générale (or Arab’s, if you prefer) nearby and 50cl Kronenbergs can be bought for less than 2€. The people who run the bar are not troubled by the hordes of underaged looking urchins intermingling with paying customers. At some point someone in your group will receive a text message from someone standing in front of another bar, probably across town. I suggest you walk with everyone to the metro and then go home. (more…)