Monday, December 22, 2008

A rare luck today: two cab drivers who spoke very kindly of Maidan, were upset about the subsequent developments in Ukraine and shared their memories of the August 1991 events in Moscow (one of the drivers noted on how kind and friendly people who were protesting here then were - just like during our Maidan).

This, and also the fact that I was on Staryi Arbat today, buying souvenirs for Istanbul, reminded me of something I wanted to write about long ago but kept getting distracted.

There's a Ukrainian Cultural Center on Staryi Arbat - as well as a Ukrainian bookstore and a Ukrainian restaurant (most likely, too expensive, though I've no idea). I don't go to Staryi Arbat often and when I do, it's always too late for the bookstore to be still open. But a month or so ago, I was passing by with Marta, on my way to the store that sells sledges (didn't buy anything - which is okay, since there's no snow), and the bookstore was open, so I decided to check it out. The selection of books doesn't differ much from what we have in Kyiv, and there's also a small Taras Shevchenko book exhibit as well as a selection of works on Ukraine-related landmarks in Moscow (none of which I had a chance to really look at because Marta was all over the place and I had to run after her). The woman at the counter put on a Pikkardiyska Tertsia CD soon after we came in, and I realized that she probably knows Ukrainian, so when I picked up a CD for myself, I addressed her in Ukrainian. She responded in Ukrainian. I felt pretty excited about this whole impromptu experience, so I told her: "Wow, it's so nice to all of sudden speak Ukrainian here!" And she replied: "And how nice it is to hear Ukrainian spoken here all of a sudden!" And we both laughed, and had a bit more of a small talk, and she told me that there's a Sunday school for kids at the Cultural Center, where they teach kolyadky, etc., and we both told Marta that she should definitely come over and play and learn with other kids here once she's a little bit older, and then I told Marta to say 'thanks' in Ukrainian, and she did. When we got out into the street, I realized that Pikkardiyska Tertsia was playing not just inside the bookstore, but also outside, and it all felt really wonderful.



  1. Charming story, and I even like the soundtrack music!

  2. Our daughter is Marta too. It seems like a name that favors rambunctious children.