The real reason why I myself have very sketchy notes is because I was watching the debate at a bar yesterday, with a former high school classmate who now lives in Berlin and is visiting for the holidays with her 3-year-old son. We haven't seen each other in more than a year and were chatting most of the time, and I was sort of watching the reactions of the crowd in order not to miss something truly outstanding.
My friend asked me halfway through the debate: "And who are those two men on the screen?" and I was like, "Are you serious?"
She did know the names, though - just didn't recognize the faces, especially since we were sitting pretty far from the small screen, and my friend's glasses weren't strong enough. She still has her Ukrainian citizenship and may try to find a way to vote Dec. 26. Her parents here in Kyiv support Yushchenko and she had an orange ribbon on her bag.
I'm writing about this mainly because I've just run into a New York Times piece about the "Russians" living in Berlin...
Berlin is a mysterious city, [Wladimir Kaminer] writes in "Disguised Businesses," one of the short stories in "Russendisko."
"Nothing here is real, everybody is himself and at the same time somebody else," he writes. "The Chinese vendors at the fast-food stand across from my building are Vietnamese. The Indian restaurant on Rykestrasse is run by a full-blooded Tunisian from Carthage. And the boss of the African-American bar with all that voodoo stuff up on the walls is Belgian."
"Coming from Moscow, you have to understand that Berlin is heaven," Mr. Kaminer said in an interview, explaining the absence of sarcasm or bitterness in his various sketches. "I love Berlin. Here you can be yourself, do what you want, and even if you are completely crazy, nobody will care."
Here's a link to the translation of Kaminer's book at amazon.co.uk: Russian Disco.