Saturday, July 28, 2007

That's it. Papa is gone.

A body has been found in a village near Obukhiv. The cops are now on the way there, but they've left mama to wait in Obukhiv. My hands are shaking as I type now.

Nothing.

Mama drove with the cops to Obukhiv, where they interrogated the nurse who let papa walk away from the hospital. The bitch yelled at everyone, including mama.

Then they drove around to some churches, and homes for the elderly, and a few other towns, inquiring and leaving info.

I suspect that it would've been more efficient if mama had been doing all this on her own. Here's why.

I took a marshrutka to Obukhiv myself in the afternoon - got off at the other end of the town and walked all the way to the hospital, via the town's center. It was a pretty long walk, during which I realized that even if papa hadn't left Obukhiv, there're still too many places he could be at, and it's impossible to search them all. Because even though Obukhiv's population is like that of Iowa City during school breaks, when all the students are gone, it's nowhere near as orderly as Iowa City. It's a mess, just like most other places here are.

I was really shocked to discover that the hospital is located at the town's edge, and to reach it, you either have to take a marshrutka from the center, or walk up the road surrounded by the forest for about 20 minutes. And there are forests all around the hospital. A few residential buildings, too, a few dilapidated factory-like places, and a really fancy-looking Catholic monastery. And a big ad with Yushchenko making some promises about decent pensions.

I walked there in order to try to see it through papa's eyes. I hoped I'd know right away which way he went after he'd left the hospital. But there are at least three directions - and there're pine forests everywhere. And Obukhiv's center can't be the most obvious choice for someone who's in town for the first time: standing by the hospital, it's just impossible to figure out where the center is. He could've taken a marshrutka - you pay as you get out there, not when you get in, but that might've created some problem, since he didn't have any money on him, and perhaps someone would've remembered him because of that, a driver or a passenger, but so far no one has contacted us with such info.

So I was really upset, because instead of doing a thorough search around the hospital, the cops decided to move on to other places, comparatively remote, probably assuming that he did make it to the center, because it's easier to find food and drink there.

I was even more upset when mama told me in the evening that neither she, nor the cops had talked to the locals who lived or worked near the hospital. Maybe the local police will do this, maybe not. I didn't talk to anyone there, either, because I assumed this had been done already, today or yesterday, and also because I get really tired talking to people, telling them the story over and over again, getting stared at, and getting no results. I wish I could keep my journalistic self permanently turned on - but I can't.

Also, the reason I think he might've walked away from the center is because of where they found him on July 18: at some bus stop in Bezradychi. Whether it was Old Bezradychi, or New Bezradychi, I don't remember. Yushchenko has a house there somewhere, it's a fancy place, despite what the name suggests. It's on the other highway from Kyiv than the one I took, and the way I imagine it, they must've approached the hospital from the road leading to the center - not from the center itself. And who knows, maybe he felt like taking a familiar path, familiar because he'd just seen it out of the window. I didn't walk too far in that direction - because I'm not brave enough to take lonely walks in the forest.

According to the cop who brought papa to the Obukhiv hospital, he had been sitting on a bench at a bus stop in Bezradychi for two day, and finally some nurse called this cop. They fed papa - a sausage, water - and then the cop drove him to Obukhiv. God bless him.

***

I'm feeling very depressed now.

Marta is such a joy, though. At night, she dreams of cats and cars: yesterday, in her sleep, she suddenly said "bee-bee" a few times (that's "a car" in babytalk here), and a few minutes ago, she said "dyadya maaaaa" twice, without opening her eyes (that's our cat Nur - I often call him "dyadya Nur" or "dyadya kot" - Uncle Cat - and she picked it up; "maaaaa" is her way of saying "meow"). I'm somewhat worried, though: isn't it a bit too early for sleeptalking? She must be stressed, too - because she's spending the summer in the city and because she sees how upset we all are...

***

Mama's cops have been promised a vacation if they find papa. And they thought it would be an easy case. Turns out it's not. And it looks like they aren't planning to work tomorrow: mama overheard them talking about a fishing trip scheduled for 3 pm tomorrow. Such a slow beginning - and now this. But we'll see how it goes.

***

Obukhiv's center has reminded me of Russia - there are lots of swastikas and skinhead writings on the walls, many of them crossed out by the Antifa guys. I really couldn't believe my eyes. DPNI (Movement Against Illegal Immigration) also has a branch here - which is kind of funny, because I don't think I've seen a single person who didn't look 100 percent local.

***

Once again, thank you all for your support. Writing here helps me so much, even though I can't even say, "I hope it'll be over soon": this is the only thing I really want now, for it to be over, but I don't think hoping for that is realistic.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still missing, but there's some news.

Mama called me around 7 pm, she was with the cops, in Obukhiv (about 45 km from Kyiv, population 30,000 or so).

At the local hospital, they found an entry with my father's full name in their records: Khokhlov Igor Sergeevich. He was brought there by the police around 11 am on July 18, a day and a half after his disappearance. Amnesia was his preliminary diagnosis. They sent for a neurologist. But as they were waiting, my father just got up and left the hospital, and they didn't bother to stop him.

Mama was so hopeful at first. Especially because he was able to give them his full name. But then they looked around and found no trace of him, nor could they find the cops who brought him there and the nurse who let him slip away.

A week ago. He could be anywhere now. Again.

He must've gotten to Obukhiv by bus. We had been thinking of this direction, but didn't really believe someone would agree to give him a ride for free.

It's like looking at the stars: the light you see was actually there hundreds of thousands years ago, and by now the star may no longer exist at all, but there's no way for us to know.

Mama and the cops will return to Obukhiv tomorrow morning and continue the search.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One of the cops complained today that most police stations were staffed with young village guys who didn't give a shit and didn't do a shit: they've made it to Kyiv and would move on to a better paying job as soon as they got a chance.

Until yesterday, one centrally-located Kyiv police station didn't have paper to print out the photo and description of the person they were supposed to be searching for all this time. Then they spent most of the day driving around Kyiv in a broken-down car, delivering this info to several other police stations and a few hospitals in person. They don't mind it when you offer to cover gas expenses.

No use complaining to their superiors: that would mean that instead of working, they'd spend the next day having their ass kicked by the boss.

It's amazing how you keep running into all those good, caring people here - but overall, nothing works.

In the two hospitals I've been to today, there were beds in the hallways, with post-stroke people lying in them. It's not the first time that I see this, so I'm not surprised. Not surprised, but still shocked, somehow. Though in a different way than yesterday, at that so-called hospice.

At one hospital, while looking for the post-stroke recovery department, I ran into a room full of bottles with human fetuses with all kinds of defects: a real Kunstkamera, horrifying. It must've been a medical classroom, obstetrics department.

One of Kyiv's main landmarks, St. Cyrill's Church, is located in the middle of the huge psychiatric hospital compound. A guy who looked like a patient there saw papa's poster in my hands, asked to look at it, then told me he knew papa - "His name's Igor, right?" - and when I pointed out that the name was written on the poster and he'd just read it, he said he'd been at this hospital for 20 years, knew everyone, and if he saw my papa, he'd definitely call me. Then he asked for some money, claiming he was an Afghan war veteran.

An elderly woman called mama at home in the evening, said she'd seen the poster, complained that old people were disappearing left and right in Kyiv, then asked if perhaps someone was after our apartment and kidnapped papa to blackmail us or something. Crazy bitch, she really upset mama with this bullshit.

A cab driver from Zhytomyrska Oblast, from a place 30 km away from the Belarusian border, said they could watch Belarusian TV there: everything is very orderly there, he said, and most people are driving foreign-made cars. He seemed to genuinely believe it.

I really have no idea what else could be done. I'm feeling so desperate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I really can't take it anymore. Someone's just called, mama picked up the phone, I heard her sobbing, thought - Oh my God, they've found him dead - but it was just a family friend who must've just returned from vacation. My heart is still racing like crazy.

Nothing new again, and I don't have it in me to write anything.

I'll mention only one thing I've seen today: I stopped by at Hospital #10, near the central bus station, and one of the nurses told me I should check at the hospice in the building next door. After seeing what I saw there I sort of begin to understand why so many people aren't freaked out by hospital conditions here. Compared to this so-called hospice, most of the hospital rooms I've seen so far are like five-star hotels. The place was filled with old people, many of whom were in really terrible condition. The place stank of urine. There were old mattresses lying everywhere, and other junk. I saw two women who worked there - and I think they were the only ones. Their job is much worse than sorting photos of the dead all day. I gave 20 hryvnias ($4) to the one who showed me some of the patients who we thought could've been my father - and she seemed overjoyed.

Except for the lack of news about papa, this was the strongest impression of today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's been a week: still no news.

Mama has been to the dining place for the homeless at Lavra, then down by the river, and then across the river, at Trukhaniv Island.

At Lavra, it costs 10 cents to order a single prayer, and $2 (10 hryvnias) to order one daily prayer to be read for 40 days in a row.

I've been to Kontraktova, then went to Pushcha Vodytsya - and that was more or less it for today.

Whenever I go now, it seems too random to make any sense. Too hopeless.

We've printed out papa's picture and description, and I pasted a few sheets at Kontraktova, and a few in Pushcha. I could've been pasting them everywhere, but today I just didn't see how it would help: there are too many people around and most of them are too preoccupied with their own problems.

Being in Pushcha was incredibly depressing: nothing's changed there, it's as peaceful and beautiful as last year, and as dilapidated, and I've seen a few of our neighbors, and even though it's been a year, it all felt like I had just returned after spending a few hours away, downtown...

We called 272-0672 in the morning, and they said two drowned men my papa's age had been found. They had more info in the evening - no, thank God, it wasn't him.

Mishah took papa's photo to them, because it was getting really tiresome to describe papa over and over again on the phone, as they compared him to those in their database. The young woman working there showed Mishah some terrible photos, to make sure it wasn't papa. She was very sweet and it was after 8 pm when she met with Mishah - what a job...

Those phone calls to the police from up high last week proved to be inefficient - I'm not even sure there were any phone calls at all. But today we've managed to get someone truly "important" involved, and right away the head of a district police department called my mama twice and reported on the work they were beginning to do. Who knows, maybe this will indeed change the situation for the better.

Thank you all again for your comments and support.

To Arboretum: thanks for your suggestions, but - as far as we know, homes for the elderly do not take in people from the street; we've called a few mental hospitals, and in any case, they are, most likely, sending their data to the central database; and, normally, the police don't place the elderly in obezyanniki ("monkey cages" - police station detention cells), fearing they would be held responsible in case a person dies there.

Megan: thank you, I've just posted our Help Find a Missing Person ad in Russian - here.

Every night I go to bed sort of hopeful: writing here helps - and I also believe that it has to start getting better sometime, maybe even tomorrow.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Nothing new today, again.

I've walked so much, my legs hurt.

First, I went to the train station, along Saksaganskogo, the route of trolley #14, which papa could've taken.

I walked through the market by the train station: what a dreary place. I still shudder thinking of what those people sleeping on the ground looked like.

After I searched at the train station, I took a cab to the tennis courts in Svyatoshin, Antey, where Andrei Medvedev used to play ever since he was a kid.

Then I took a cab back to the center, to Oktyabrskaya Bolnitsa, a huge medical compound near where we live. Papa was hospitalized there in December 2005, less than three weeks after Marta's birth, and one nurse at one of the buildings I checked out seemed to remember him from back then. When he had a stroke in December 2006, the third one in a year and the fourth one in general, mama took him there right away, but they sent him back home, didn't tell mama it was a stroke - because it wasn't their day to take in the new patients.

I really believe that a good way to learn about how things really are in Ukraine is by visiting a few hospitals - if the very central one in Kyiv is such a mess, then imagine what it's like elsewhere, in more remote places. Politics is irrelevant: politicians - Yushchenko and Yanukovych alike - go abroad for their treatment.

After Oktyabrskaya, I went to the Botanical Garden again, to look where I couldn't get to when I was with Marta (Mishah's here now, thank God; his cast was taken off yesterday, so he's able to take Marta for walks).

Then I took bus #62 to Kontraktova Ploshcha, walked to the embankment from there, and ended this day's search at Poshtova Ploshcha.

Mama was at the cemetery again, and then in the Botanical Garden neighborhood that we hadn't had the time to check before: the street that goes down to the river.

There, she talked to an elderly woman who was something of a guardian angel to the boat station for WWII veterans, which the Klichko brothers wanted to take away and build something fancy instead: this woman met with the one I voted for in the city council election (can't remember if that was Vladimir or Vitaliy) and described to him some of the people who kept boats there - a 91-year-old man, for example, whose only remaining pleasure in this life was a weekly sail. She made Klichko change his mind, but suffered a stroke soon afterwards and even spent some time in a coma.

After the boat station, mama took a bus to that place where they feed the homeless and where she'd run into the guy who used to know papa (he's not a guard there, by the way, but some sort of a manager).

I can't describe the despair that we all feel after doing so much searching in vain.

This hope thing, I don't know how it is still alive, but I also have no idea how it can possibly die while papa is still missing.

A thunderstorm here, again. The one last night was really wild.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nothing new.

I can't believe this is happening to us.

I pretend to have drawers in my head, and I try to keep the one that contains the most painful stuff way back, but it keeps trying to spill open.

Before I forget, thank you all for your support. I really, really value it.

Mama has been to a homeless shelter, at the train station (where she discovered that the police weren't looking for my father, that they didn't have any info on him), at the Botanical Garden, and at two hospitals on the Left Bank, which she again searched thoroughly, every floor, every room. She returned home around 11 pm.

With Marta, I walked around the area where papa used to live as a child - Mala Zhytomyrska, School #25 by St. Andrew's Church.

On my own, around 8 pm, I went to the area near the Botanical Garden and walked there, looking into most of the backyards and other off-the-road places. At the Botanical Garden, I talked to a guard, a very nice young man who drives a moped around the place even at night. He had no idea there was a search going on - which again shows that the police are idle. He said there was also a night guard who strolled the territory with a dog, and it probably means that papa is not there, or else they would have found him in the past five days. That's a relief, I guess, but there's still no way to be sure.

Mama called a family friend today, who was shocked and all, of course, but who also called back later and told mama this weird story: after the initial conversation, she went to see a neighbor whose son, a college student, had been missing for two months and who was found just yesterday, after his mother saw his picture on the Svidok show on NTN, the same one that had papa's info (when our friend showed her my papa's picture, she recognized him). It turned out that her son had been in a car accident, had a surgery, survived, but couldn't be identified because he didn't remember a thing about himself.

Why they didn't manage to locate him through 003 or 272-0672 (which we continue to call religiously) is anyone's guess - but if this is because some hospitals don't bother supplying info on their emergency and unidentified patients to those services, then, possibly, my mother is doing the right thing when she's checking some of Kyiv's hospitals on her own.

It's 2:30 am and a terrible thunderstorm is raging outside the window. My poor father, I so hope he is safe and warm now somewhere...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another day without papa.

It rained in the morning, so the day turned out to be not as hot as the previous three.

Mama checked a few hospitals - walked from floor to floor, looking inside rooms.

She also walked through the Botanical Garden again. (Did I mention it here that this was where we lost papa? The Garden that everyone goes to to look at the lilacs, not the one that's got magnolias. The one near Lesya Ukrainka and Druzhby Narodov Boulevards.)

With Marta, I walked from Besarabka all the way to the War Museum under the Motherland statue, via all the parks and the tennis courts on Moskovska.

And via Pecherska Lavra.

There, I found a place where they feed homeless people for free, twice a day. The guard I spoke to mentioned another place where they also feed the homeless, at the Left Bank, and mama went there later and, quite miraculously, ran into the guard who used to work at the state committee for sports and knew my father. He took papa's photo and promised to show it to the bums: many of them are very caring people, he said, and they'd definitely bring papa along if they see him. A tiny little bit of hope.

Mama really praised this charity place, and I've looked it up on the web (UKR): it's called Stephania and has been around since 1998. The homeless and the poor can eat there all day long, do their laundry, take a shower, see a doctor, watch a movie. Neither the cops, nor the drunks are allowed to enter the place. Mayor Chernovetsky has something (or a lot?) to do with it all - and if this is so, then for once I have something good to say about him.

Also, thanks to at least one or maybe even a few phone calls from up high, the police is now going to open a criminal investigation case. Usually, they aren't too willing to do this, because an open case means something really has to be done to close it - or else the unsolved case is going to spoil their performance stats.

And NTN ran a little info bit on papa tonight.

And now we're trying to get his photo printed in a newspaper.

And just like after 9/11, I've a problem getting myself to cry. No matter how terrible I feel, I can't cry. Not a single tear since papa's disappearance. Maybe it's because I realize that if I let myself cry now, I won't be able to stop. Or maybe this is what extreme shock does to me.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Still no news.

It's been over three days already. Three unbearably hot days. Unbearable.

I'm with Marta all the time, and that's why mama does most of the searching: I don't even remember anymore all the places she's been to.

Petrovka book market - he used to go there often.

Baikovo Cemetery - where his family is buried, and also, people leave food and drink on the graves, and what if he's been surviving on that?

Talking to drunks and bums at Kontraktova Ploshcha - he could've gotten there by bus. Useless. A few of them, for example, claimed they'd known him for fifteen years.

Kyiv train station, for the second time yesterday.

I've been to the tennis courts where he worked for two decades or so, where I spent much of my childhood.

No trace of him anywhere.

The police told mama they'd been making inquiries at Kyiv morgues - and he's not there, either. Thank God.

I had the scariest phone conversation of my life tonight, with a very nice woman from the MVS's missing persons department (272-0672 is their number, they are located at 15 Vladymirska St.): she questioned me on my father's clothes, his teeth, his hair, his eyebrows, and his teeth again and again, comparing my answers to some description in front of her, and then we decided it wasn't my father that they had in their database. I didn't have the guts to ask her whether we were talking about a dead person or someone who's still alive. Unlike the previous "it's not him" situation, this one was such a relief.

Tomorrow, we hope, NTN TV channel will air his picture and description in their Svidok ("Witness") program.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No, it's not him.

They've found someone who may or may not be my father at a hospital near Paton Bridge. A police woman called at 1 am, mama wanted to go there right away, but was asked to wait till morning. She is on the way there right now. The man has high fever and looks like he had fallen quite a few times. The Paton Bridge area across the river does seem like a logical route, too. Inshaallah, it's my father.

Still no news whatsoever about papa.

The horror of not knowing, the horror of being totally helpless, the horror of trying not to lose hope.

Mama walked around Kyiv from around 6 am till around 8 pm, with a break for the police station. It was a very hot day. The police girl was very sweet, did her best to help mama cope psychologically and also worked real hard to locate someone who could've seen papa.

Mama had a large-format photo of papa's smiling face with her - they were showing it to people. Back home, she placed it prominently in their room, and when I saw it, it totally broke my heart: he looked so happy in that pre-stroke picture.

I walked around Lipki in the evening - he used to work at a school there, up until last summer, and I hoped I'd run into him, hoped he'd be sitting on some bench there somewhere, waiting for me.

If only Kyiv weren't so big. The irony is that I thought it was so small when I walked all the way to Goloseevo last week, taking pictures.

There was a portrait of Felix Dzerzhinsky in the office of the head of one of the departments at the police station.

So strange how I can write all this here - while also going totally crazy inside. I think I'll even be able to do some work for GV tonight. I can't fall asleep anyway. Mama seems sleepless, too.

Has he had any food and water in all this time? This question keeps popping up in my head, but then I have to tell myself to stop thinking in that direction, because other obvious questions are just too scary.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Papa's still missing, but thank you all who've written me. Mama has spent some time looking for him on her own early in the morning today. Then she took his picture to the police station at Moskovskaya St., only to discover that they were planning to begin working on his case tomorrow. "It's not some hooligan that's missing," she told them. "It's a person who is ill, and it's been 12 hours already." She also asked them quite decidedly whether they needed a kick in the ass from someone way up high to get them to do their job. That and some real intense crying seems to have helped, and now a young and rather attractive woman (on really high platform heels) from that police station is calling places and walking around with mama. She's contacted all the usual medical places, but they don't have anyone who'd fit his description. I'm staying home with Marta - because we still have a tiny hope that he may find his way back by himself. Again, thank you for you help, prayers and positive thoughts.

Here's papa's photo, taken in April this year, on the day Marta and I were going back to Moscow:



A larger copy is here, and the really huge original - here.

Yesterday, he was wearing jeans and a blue polo shirt.

My father's disappeared. They went for a walk with Marta and he wandered off while mama was feeding her. There are too many places he could've gotten to from where they were. It's impossible to describe what horror it is. It's been six hours already, mama has spent four hours walking around, looking for him, my dear friend Sasha and I were calling various police stations and other places, all in vain. It's a huge city, and he could be anywhere. He's 74 and had three strokes last year. He doesn't have any ID on him, nor does he have any money. He's not at any of Kyiv's hospitals - this is what we were told by the 003 folks. The 02 bastards - the main police number, like 911 - hung up on me twice after I described the situation. Once, they told me to call the local police department. Most of the time, they are just not picking up the phone. At several district police stations, they sounded very polite and sympathetic, though, wrote down our number and info on papa, but so far, no one's called back. If he had a cell phone, he could've been tracked down by a rescue service - but he unlearned to use it after the last stroke. I can't believe this is happening to us. Such a nightmare.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I've uploaded the rest of my Istanbul pictures from our trip this past May - all of them are here.

Nothing special, but I had to get rid of the backlog.

It was a photo freewrite, in a way: I tried to spend as little time as possible focusing, thinking of what should be in the picture. I was just shooting left and right, and as a result I've got quite a few low-quality images of things I already take for granted, don't really notice in Istanbul, but also many photos of things that do stand out, that practically jump at you as you walk there.





Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oh, and I bought this beautiful bag in Pirogovo: it's from Bukovyna, and I've been told it was made in the 1920s or 1930s. But even if it's new, I still totally love it.

A brief Mishah update:

So he returned to Moscow with his broken leg two weeks ago. A few days later, he caught a cold. Around the same time, they turned his hot water off. I mean, not only his, but in the whole building - the no-hot-water season has begun. Mishah's internet went kaput next. Or maybe it was the heating pipe that burst first and the internet died later - I don't remember the chronology. The heating pipe disaster took place Saturday - if it hadn't been for the broken leg, we would've been busy getting packed for Turkey then. The pipe that burst and flooded the neighbors two floors down was in our bedroom - or so everyone believed until yesterday, when the plumbers finally showed up (after five days of waiting for them), made a hole in the wall and told Mishah everything looked intact. They'll probably check the neighbors' pipes next week and if they don't find anything wrong there, they'll return to our bedroom. Mishah has to sit there and wait for them. And then he'll have to wait for someone to fix the hole in the wall, I guess. Or maybe he'll postpone that. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, two years, and Mishah's not gonna be here, and I already feel like the poor Eeyore on his forgotten birthday. Marta misses her papa terribly. The only good thing about it is that I'm now writing in Russian a lot: I've got one more blog, on LiveJournal this time, all locked and private, and I write little updates about Marta for Mishah (they've fixed his internet today), and I also rant and whine there all to myself. It helps.

And yesterday I went to Pirogovo, the open-air museum of Ukrainian folk architecture and life: it's the coolest place in the world!

A set of 37 picture is here.



Very strange, but I've never been there before - something I really regret now.



A new photoset on Flickr - 71 pictures from my very quick trip to Kozyn this past Monday.

***

If you take a marshrutka, Kozyn is about 40 minutes from Vydubychi subway station. Roundtrip (marshrutka + subway) cost me 5 hryvnias - $1 - and it wasn't awful at all. The road gets a bit too bumpy at times, but a private car wouldn't have made it smoother. Moreover, it would've suffered more damage than the poor old marshrutka.

***

I went there to check on a sanatorium someone has recommended to us - Prolisok. A dozen or so photos at the beginning are from there. But I could see right away that the place wasn't good for us - way too many stairs for our stroller and Mishah's crutches. And in general, I've been spoiled by our last year's place, Pushcha Ozerna, which was a very well-maintained sovok, while Prolisok is a rather unkempt sovok.

***

I then walked all the way through Kozyn, back to the main road to Kyiv, taking pictures along the way.

Kozyn's main street used to be Lenin Street, but then the Ukrainian opera singer Anatoliy Solovyanenko died in Kozyn in 1999 and was buried at the local cemetery, and at some point the street acquired his name.

At least one building still had the old street sign attached to the fence, along with the new one:



***

Kozyn is a nice place, much cleaner than Gorenka, not as crowded, and with more "nice" houses. But in many ways the two places are very much alike.

***

I really loved this - a campaign poster from last year on a street pole next to Kozyn's church:



The candidate's slogan is: "There's space for everyone under the sun."

And the candidate's name is... ha-ha... Satanovsky...

Satanovsky Mykola Artemovych...

:)))

Comments to this Korrespondent.net piece about Crimean Tatars (RUS) really stink. I won't translate any of it - because I'm sick of the same kind of xenophobic shit that the Russian blogosphere is full of. Turns out Ukraine's no different in this respect.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kyiv's Obolon, Troyeshchina, Lesnoy and Voskresenka districts have been without hot water for quite a while: not due to the usual no-hot-water season, but in addition to it - because someone at the city administration forgot to pay for gas in time.

And there's a rally taking place by the mayor's office right now - against illegal construction in Kyiv. I can hear them making speeches.

They've shut off water in our building after yesterday's fire - or, more likely, after the post-fire mini-flood on Khreshchatyk caused by a broken hydrant. It's a pain in the ass, but at least I'm not surprised.

What a crazy summer this is.

Around midnight, a fire broke out in the attic of the building that's across the children's playground from us. Two firetrucks were in our backyard, and the third one was on Khreshchatyk - they were pumping water all the way from there. The flames were pretty huge for a while (though there was no stench at all), and it took them way over an hour to extinguish the fire. Now it's the water on Khreshchatyk that they can't tame - must be their third hour of trying to, in vain.

God bless the firefighters: so brave, climbing those ladders with all that equipment on them. It was really scary to watch them.

All in all, it was totally wild, but I started taking pictures only by the end of it, and even though I do have some videos of the flames, I'm too lazy to upload them now...





Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

Then, instead of looking for that piece on Pakistan, I read about a genetic disorder called Williams syndrome. This passage has basically made me cry:

Another Williams encounter: The mother of twin Williams boys in their late teens opened her door to find on her stoop a leather-clad biker, motorcycle parked at the curb, asking for her sons. The boys had made the biker’s acquaintance via C.B. radio and invited him to come by, but they forgot to tell Mom. The biker visited for a spell. Fascinated with how the twins talked about their condition, the biker asked them to speak at his motorcycle club’s next meeting. They did. They told the group of the genetic accident underlying Williams, the heart and vascular problems that eventually kill many who have it, their intense enjoyment of talk, music and story, their frustration in trying to make friends, the slights and cruelties they suffered growing up, their difficulty understanding the world. When they finished, most of the bikers were in tears.


And this:

For instance, you’d ask an adolescent, ‘What if you were a bird?’ The Down kids said things like: ‘I’m not a bird. I don’t fly.’ The Williams teens would say: ‘Good question! I’d fly through the air being free. If I saw a boy I’d land on his head and chirp.’”

Went to the New York Times page to check what the hell is going on in Pakistan, but got diverted by this piece by Steven Lee Myers on Putin's youth groups:

Yulia Kuliyeva, only 19 and already a commissar, sat at a desk and quizzed each young person who sat opposite her, testing for ideological fitness to participate in summer camp.

[...]

Nashi’s opponents, in fact, deride the organization as a modern manifestation of Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The colors and symbols are similar; members carry red books to record their participation in rallies and lectures. And, like the Komsomol, membership in Nashi is viewed as a stepping stone to jobs in government and state corporations.

[...]


Made me sick, of course.

And there was one mistake in the text - here: "the Grigorevtsy, affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church." I think the group is called "Georgiyevtsy!" - they became quite famous a few weeks ago, when they decided to prevent gays from gathering at some park in downtown Moscow, but ended up getting their own asses kicked instead. The reason I remember the group's name is because someone in LJ quickly renamed them into Gay-orgy-evtsy. And I think it was the wonderful Sergei Dorenko on Radio Echo Moskvy who said that their attackers must've been some straight thugs who got offended when Georgiyevtsy mistook them for gays.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ah, this is just what I needed now - Madonna and Gogol Bordello at Live Earth in London...

(Thank you, Mishah!!!)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Have been to Gidropark with Marta today. Wasn't completely a mistake - but more or less so. It is so not cosy there. But she really enjoyed walking in the Dnieper, and our first subway ride went spectacularly well, too.

***

At the beach, they ask you about your diarrhea, of all things:



And then offer you to drown your thirst in Sprite:

I forgot to mention one important detail: on Saturday, Mishah came to Kyiv to pick us up, broke his leg, and left for Moscow on Sunday without us, to deal with some unfinished business and also to return our plane tickets. So, no Obolon for him for now... :(

I hoped to escape to Pushcha next week, with both Marta and Mishah - but the sanatorium is filled up until August 25. That's, like, an unspeakable tragedy. Seriously.

To cheer myself up a bit, I went for one of those marathon walks yesterday, from Besarabka to Maksym Rylskyi monument in Golosiyivo. I told myself that since the vacation is either canceled or postponed and I'm stuck in this part of the world, I might as well try to feel not at home here, pretend I'm a tourist, and take some pictures.

It worked very well - 56 photos from this walk are here.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

We were supposed to be on a train back to Moscow tonight, but Mishah broke his leg yesterday, right here on Khreshchatyk, across the street from the Besarabka Market, so we're stuck in Kyiv, and we've canceled our vacation in the mountainous village in Turkey, and we are both totally devastated by all this. We were supposed to fly to Istanbul in a week and then take a car to Kayalar, but now Mishah will have to keep his cast on and use crutches for the next three weeks, and any travel together is out of the question.

The superstitious part of me believes I shouldn't have cursed ex-mayor Omelchenko in my previous post, shouldn't have cursed at all, period. I'd take it back, if only it could change anything.

There was also a full moon yesterday, my astrologically-minded relatives tell me, and the doctor who treated Mishah told him they'd seen crowds of patients with traumas in the past few days.

But, regardless of whether it was full moon, or Omelchenko's Khreshchatyk's revenge, or something else, it sucks big time.