Ups and Downs of Ukraine

I went back to Ukraine this summer to do research for my master's thesis.  I won some grant to do this (it was all a big guise to get a free trip back to see some of my friends).

Over the past two and a half years my heart had became weak for Ukraine.  Nostalgia had made me forget about all the things I hate about the country--the smells, the corruption, the clothes, the trains, the dirty looks I get, the Russian pop music, etc.  With all this suppressed deep down in my memory, I was really, really looking forward to going back, eating some sunflowers seeds, shooting the shit over a couple liters of vodka, and doing some research in the field (yeah, I'm a nerd).

However, all this excitement quickly faded before I even got to Ukraine...before I even left the airport in Thessaloniki.  I'm sure it doesn't come as a big surprise that not many people go to Ukraine, and few Ukrainians actually are able to get visas out of the country.  

Here's how Ukraine quickly let me down while we were about to go up and brought me back up again as we were going down.

Series of annoyances:
  1. They are the ONLY ones to cut in the customs/passport lines; and you can always identify them because they are wearing the most blinged-out white jeans, and "Dollcce & Gabana" shirts.
  2. The twenty or so that waited with me to board the flight were getting wasted on the duty-free liquor they had just bought.  Who else does this?  Who shoots cognac?
  3. They are the only ones to not sit in their assigned seat on an airplane.  This behavior is supported by the flight attendants (Ukrainian airline), which then creates complete chaos as people board because some INSIST on sitting in their assigned seat, while those in this person's assigned seat refuses to move (most people are already drunk at this point adding to the madness).  It's insanity.
  4. My flight was direct to Kyiv...or so I thought.  My plane actually became an air marshrutka.  Because the plane was not filled (due to few Ukrainians leaving, and few wanting to go to Ukraine), this "direct" plane made a stop in Sofia, Bulgaria and Bucharest, Romania.  This in turn put my arrival 6 hours behind schedule.
Yet I still love the country, it's like your first love--despite everything, you'll always have a soft spot for the fucker.

Though my excitement faded before I touched ground, it was redeemed when just before landing everyone started yelling, "давай, давай, давай" (which roughly translates to: fucking please, come on and land, come on, come on) and upon landing...as the wheels of the plane touched ground, the Ukrainians started cheering and clapping (to me, we still were not in the clear because the plane was still jumping all over the runway).  However, their excitement made me excited again.  


Richard said...

I wash just about to email you and ask for a blog update. Glad to see you are back on the map (ie, internet).

lb said...

Yeah, I've got some good material from my trip. I've thoroughly been enjoying yours! You've got a way with words.