Saturday, October 30, 2004

My compartment-mate was a very nice 40-year-old Ukrainian who had spent three years working in St. Pete. At some point at the beginning of the journey, he asked, ambiguously, if I was going to Kyiv to "support the besieged opposition" - and I, careful not to incite a political argument when we still had over 20 hours to spend so close together, answered with a question: "Why not?" To which he replied: "Well, I'm gonna vote for Yushchenko just to spite them all."

Having spent 24 hours with an ally, I arrived in Kyiv just after 8 pm Friday, happy and peaceful. I took a cab home and asked the driver if something bad had happened during the time I was shut off from the world and the news. He said he worked night shifts and slept during the day, so he wasn't that reliable of a source, but from his friend he heard that way too many troops have been assembled in and around Kyiv. As we approached my neighborhood, he said, pointing at a khaki truck ahead of us, the one used to transport people, usually soldiers: "Here're some of them, I guess."

My mama told me she'd seen a tiny rally on Khreshchatyk the other day, a pro-Yanukovych student rally, sort of. They were carrying little flags with his portrait or something, and when they approached the end of the street, they dropped them and walked over them, like it was some trash underneath their feet. My mama asked one of the guys, "And who are you gonna vote for?" - and he replied, "Yushchenko, of course."

Something unrelated to the election: we went out to smoke in Chernihiv, a few hours away from Kyiv. Old women were walking along the station, selling food, beer and dried fish. One was leaning on two crutches and had two transparent bags of apples in one hand. "Someone, please save me, please buy these apples from me, I'm selling them very cheap, only one hryvnia per bag, per kilo." She was very old, too miserable, and even though 1 hryvnia is something like 25 cents, I couldn't buy the apples because my bags were already too heavy. I gave her 2 hryvnias and told her that someone else would definitely buy those apples from her. She started thanking me, telling me that I'm such a good "granddaughter" and that her own granddaughter was no good and left her to starve, all alone.

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