Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's really awesome to be around people who love kids and aren't afraid to show it. In Istanbul, Marta receives dozens of smiles and hugs daily; she's heard the Turkish phrase "çok güzel, maşaallah" ("very beautiful, mashaallah") so many times, she knows how to say it herself by now; and today three people have given her sweets (which isn't that great, considering that she's almost missing four of her upper teeth already). She acts somewhat shy when confronted with all this affection and even tries to get away, announcing in Russian that she's "scared of them all" - but she doesn't really mean it. As far as I'm concerned, this alone could be the reason to keep coming back here - but there are plenty more, of course. Maşaallah!





Photos from Eyüp:





















Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mehmet Öztekin, a gramophone repairman and collector, in his shop at Grand Bazaar. He played an Edith Piaf song for us, very moving.



A little bit more about him is here.

***

There's another store at Grand Bazaar that I love - Deli Kızın Yeri/The Crazy Lady's Place. I keep buying toys for Marta there.

My husband, at Grand Bazaar today:



:)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Our third time in Istanbul this year - feels as if we never left. Feels wonderful.









Saw this barge at Ortaköy today:



"Знамя Октября" - "The Banner of October" - passing through the Bosporus under the Turkish flag (two of them, actually)... :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Uploaded a bunch of Kyiv photos, the backlog.

From the Parking set:







From the Construction set:





From the Mayor 2008 set:



I've spent the past week in Moscow, with a nearly total kindergarten in and around my head:



***

What little I've had of the adult stuff this week all had to do with my Global Voices reading, linking and translating.

***

Oh, and I've also managed to read Olga Allenova's text (RUS) on the current mess in Chechnya, in Kommersant-Vlast.

Ramzan Kadyrov vs. Sulim Yamadayev: the Chechen boys of the "Kremlin-backed" president vs. the Chechen boys from one of the battalions of the Russian Federation's Ministry of Defense.

***

And, on the way home today, I've spotted this mini-poster announcing yet another Dissenters March - planned for May 6. The slogan this year is as plain as it gets: "We hate the government."



Pasted on a drugstore's door, the note is actually much tinier than it appears on this picture.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Here's what I wrote last week:

The way they park - and drive! - on Khreshchatyk's sidewalks is SO BAD. But it's a norm by now.

In a way, it's our new "Ми разом, нас багато, і нас не подолати!" (The main slogan of Maidan 2004: "We're together, there're many of us, and we cannot be defeated!")


Today, I've learned that this retarded way of parking is quite literally our new "Ми разом, нас багато, і нас не подолати!"

Vladislav Kaskiv, the leader of Pora, stepped out of the car pictured below, and, accompanied by a man and a woman, proceeded to the Grand Gallery store nearby. I've no idea if the car belongs to him or his friends - and I couldn't care less. What matters is the way they parked it. I wish I had a picture of Kaskiv actually getting out of this car - but I'm not a paparazzi. I'm a shocked observer. And I'm shocked - but not surprised. The revolution's evolution.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A cab driver said today that the crazy Kyiv center construction ideas originated from the city's new arrivals, for whom Kyiv is limited to Podil and Pechersk and who'd never consider setting their lavish offices elsewhere.

Considering the amount of property acquired by our folks in London, it is perhaps logical to expect Kyiv-style high-rise buildings to replace Kensington Gardens in the near future.

Or not.

***

A friend said today that the Lesya Ukrainka/Baseyna monsters shouldn't be blamed on Chernovetsky, but on his predecessor, Oleksandr Omelchenko: according to her, it takes more than two years to arrange all the legal and technical stuff for such a major construction. And she's probably right: the building that's already in use was halfway there when I was pregnant, at the end of 2005, way before Chernovetsky.

Chernovetsky, I guess, is using this argument against his opponents in the current campaign.

Go figure.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On Mala Zhytomyrska, about halfway down to Maidan - these lovely neighbors:



Sharing the same entrance are: Ukrainian Cossacks; the Party of Spirituality and Patriotism; an agency selling "elite real estate of Crimea's Southern Coast" - and A Foreign Affair, a dating service.

If this isn't enough, the door also carries Victor Tsoy's name - В. Цой - scribbled in tiny letters on the plaque with the apartment info for this part of the building.

I've created a new album on Flickr - KYIV: Construction.

The most recent pictures (15 of them) are from the construction at Vozdvyzhenska St.:







I'm not going to bother sharing my impressions of this nouveau riche neighborhood in the making. Instead, here's what the street looked like before - what a ghost town it used to be: photos by Vasyl Halayba.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Over a hundred candidates already registered to run for Kyiv mayor on May 25.

A shrug, an awkward smile and raised eyebrows.

(Same reaction to the news of ex-speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's appointment as the rector of Shevchenko State University.)

If I'm in Kyiv for the election, I'll vote for Klichko - unless he does something terribly stupid in the next month and a half.

But there's also Yulia's Turchynov, and sexy Mykola Katerynchuk, and ex-mayor Omelchenko, who's now part of NUNS. It all reminds me of the Russian opposition back in 2003, when they still sort of mattered: how stubborn they were in opposing each other.

(I'd love to see a full list of candidates, but I can't find the site of the city election commission - if anyone has the link, please let me know.)

***


Vitaly Klichko: "Kyiv needs a strong mayor."

As I was walking down Voznesensky Uzviz today and past this huge Klichko ad, I heard a middle-aged, bureaucratically-looking man in front of me say this to his two companions:

Klichko... He was born brainless, and then they beat the rest out of him along the way.


An hour or so later, I was near Maidan and saw a Turchynov ad for the first time:


Oleksandr Turchynov: "Kyiv needs a clever mayor."

Some graffiti that I saw on my way down Voznesensky Uzviz today:













A quote on the state of book publishing in Ukraine, from Alina Pastukhova's Kyiv Post interview with Ivan Malkovych, publisher of the wonderful Ukrainian children's books:

It is always good to compare with Russia. There the government, through various programs, spends $500 million per year on publishing. And we give (through taxes) $4 million to the Ministry of Culture and almost the same to the Ministry of Information. While this year was declared "Year of the Ukrainian Book," the government hasn't spent one hryvnia.


Depressing, isn't it.

Friday, April 11, 2008