Saturday, June 18, 2011
It was an insomnia-inspired walk that lasted from around 6 a.m. to around 9 a.m. An adventure, in a way, for I usually stay up much of the night, working or reading, and eventually fall asleep angry with myself for being such a vampire. In summertime I suffer the most: the sun is up and the birds are singing way too early, around 4 a.m., always catching me unprepared, still not sleepy enough. And I've always dreamed of being a morning person - because, I imagine, it's easier to be that way. But I'm not, and whenever I'm out early, I feel that the world is upside down, and the people who move around me with such ease are either aliens or robots.
For a long time, I've been very curious to see what Kyiv is like in the morning, so even though my last night's futile attempts to fall asleep had exhausted me, I was filled with some sort of a crazy enthusiasm when I set out on this walk. It turned out to be a pretty interesting, dreamlike experience, but I was upset to realize that taking pictures in the morning wasn't my thing at all somehow. All this endless walking and photographing that I normally do in late afternoons has always appealed to me because of its dreamy spontaneity; today (or should I call it yesterday already?) I've realized that my constant efforts to stay fully awake during this walk were taking all the fun out of the process. I ended up having more pictures in my mind than on my camera. Dreamlike pictures, some of them too subtle to describe in words.
Khreshchatyk was empty, with no one (or almost no one) driving on its sidewalks. If I still had a bicycle, I caught myself thinking, I'd go for an early-morning ride, the way I did once or twice in the late 1990s.
The air, unfortunately, had a really unpleasant smell - possibly, due to all the public toilets set up on Khreshchatyk, or because of all the drunks who populate the area at night, when the toilets are closed.
At 6 a.m., there were a few homeless people sitting on the benches, occasional bunches of tipsy young people returning from night clubs, and a water truck riding slowly along the sidewalk, stopping next to every tree and light pole with flowers hanging on it, and the driver, who was dispensing water from the hose right from his cabin, got into a fight with a cabbie at one point, because the cabbie didn't want to leave the spot he was parked at, right by a tree, and the driver didn't want to water him and his car together with that tree.
By 7 a.m., there were street cleaners everywhere, mostly the elderly local folks, unlike in Moscow, where a typical street cleaner is a young Central Asian male. An old woman was sweeping stuff from memorial plaques near the Unknown Soldier monument: she looked like a dedicated volunteer, with her ragged old broom and a white plastic bag to put the garbage in.
There were pigeons in almost every backyard I passed through: some were already being fed by compassionate elderly women, others were waiting for their guardian angels to wake up. In front of the Lavra, it was a man in a wheelchair who was feeding the pigeons. In the park, I saw people walking their dogs AND feeding a bunch of young black strays.
Around 7:30 a.m., buses and marshrutkas were already crowded as hell, and those mysterious morning people were marching in droves to their offices from the Arsenalna subway station, so very awake and energetic, so unlike me the somnambulist.
At 8:30 a.m., there was a minor traffic jam in the Presidential Administration neighborhood, the streetlights were off at the Bankova/Instytutska intersection, replaced by a cop in the middle of the street, which probably meant that Yanukovych was about to arrive to work. Two hours earlier and a few blocks away, when there were still only a few cars and a few people around, an extremely voluptuous middle-aged woman entered the huge Cabinet of Ministers building through its imposing front door: my guess is she was their head cook or something.