I felt rather misplaced twice today.
First, when listening to NPR - one thought that ran through my mind was, "Where is Ukraine?" It's very strange to realize that while I'm interested in hearing about "their" issues, "my" issues are 100 percent irrelevant to them. Not bad, just weird. Even weirder, though, would be to imagine lots of Ukraine-related content on NPR. Ha.
Second, I felt misplaced while watching a very strange broadcast from the city mayor's office on the city council's channel (it made me spend about half an hour glued to the TV tonight). A hundred or so people were being publicly presented with apartments here in Kyiv: their names were being called out and they were being summoned to the front of the large auditorium, handed flowers, chocolates, and the keys, and their new addresses were being announced to the whole city (a bit too careless, I'm afraid), and some were asked to stay and tell everyone about the miserable, subhuman conditions they've been living in up until now, and then short videos of these ratholes were being shown.
Shocking, most of it. Shocking, because it's 2006, not 1976, and because it's still pretty much a norm to live like this, several generations in a tiny apartment, in the same room, often, and some of these people have been waiting for more living space since the late 1970s. Kvartirnyi vopros is as relevant today as it was then.
Mayor Chernovetsky is, of course, exploiting these people, giving himself positive publicity, etc., but... it's not what you're thinking about when you're watching it. Only once, when some poor guy thanked God for this new apartment, the city council woman with a microphone elaborated on his thought: like, yes, thank God for directing the authorities toward this great decision (the mayor and his religious beliefs is a separate topic, of course).
In other news, I tried to have Marta's name written into my foreign passport today, so that we could travel to Moscow without any problems at the border. What's needed is a photocopy of her birth certificate, a letter, and less than 20 hryvnias ($4) paid at sberkassa. Sounds easy, but it's not.
A bitch at the passport office informed me that "the boss" wasn't likely to accept a hand-written letter, that it had to be printed - and that this would cost me some money. She was probably offering me her services as a typist this way - intimidating me into begging her to type the letter for me - but instead I asked her where it said it couldn't be hand-written. Nowhere.
But I didn't get to see "the boss" today because I had to make the payments, so I went to the sberkassa - the one we used when we were setting our wedding date last year. Sberkassa is like a bank, only there're always lines there, because this is where everyone pays their utility and phone bills. I came there around 1:30 pm, half an hour before their lunch break, when, according to them, their computers get turned off automatically. I spent 15 minutes filling out two payment forms - a torture. I stood in a pretty long line for ten minutes. I made it to the cashier's window just in time - only to be told that there should be my tax identity code in one of the boxes on one form, yet another multi-digit number, which I don't remember, of course - and without it, there's no way I can pay them my goddamn 8.50 hryvnias ($1.70). The other payment, 10.47 hryvnias ($2.10) can be made without the code, somehow.
I'll have to go there again on Thursday. Bastards.