Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn does weird things to me. After spending a few hours listening to Arthur Meschian's songs and reading Mark Grigorian's posts about Yerevan and about his grandfather, an Armenian architect who, among other things, designed Matenadaran, I felt homesick - in a way I had never experienced homesickness before.

Suddenly, I was craving to look at all the old photos and papers stored back home in Kyiv, a messy and neglected collection, some of it packed into an ancient suitcase that I keep in my room, the rest hiding somewhere in the dark and dusty mazes of the so-called entresol, a space I've never really explored.

Home is where all this stuff is. A family history that's too sketchy and disorganized, that won't reveal itself unless someone talks about it. And my father's no longer around to talk about his part of this history. My history, too - but most of it out of reach now.

In Kyiv, I keep promising myself to buy a scanner next time I'm there, then sit down and go through as much of this paper and photo stuff as possible. But I never do this somehow. Part of me, I guess, is scared of attempting to connect with the family's past: what if I fail to connect - or, what if I find something I don't want to find there?

Here in Moscow, I only have a few photos of my father's father, and a few of my mother as a little girl. And I've a scanner here. So, to alleviate this unusual homesickness, I went ahead and scanned those few photos of Sergei Andreevich Khokhlov that I keep in the little pocket of my Dear Diary.

I don't know as much as I'd like to know about my grandfather. He was a very good man, everyone used to say. He died in 1969, unexpectedly, due to a surgery gone bad, at the age of 61. My father missed him very much, but he rarely talked about him - or maybe I just didn't listen well enough. I love to look at the photos of him: I find him very handsome. He had some Greek roots, according to my father (I wrote more about it here). He had nothing to do with tennis and was pretty upset when my father quit his studies at the Construction Engineering Institute after one year and switched to sports. For a while, he was furious, actually. He worked as a quantity surveyor (I had to look up the translation of the boring Russian term "сметчик": it sounds as boring in English). He was said to be the best quantity surveyor in Ukraine at some point, whatever that means. I had spent some time looking at his work-related papers - and also at his insanely detailed calculations for repairs in our two-room apartment (hilarious stuff, somehow) - and even though I don't understand anything about the field he worked in, I do understand that he was a very stubborn and meticulous person. And very independent. I find it moving. And I'm proud of him. And I'll try to write more about all this later. For now, here are some of his photos.

With my father - who looks Marta's age on the first picture and a little bit older on the second one, so this must be one of the last pre-war years, 1939 or 1940, but there's no way of knowing for sure, I guess:

My father and my grandfather

My father and my grandfather

At some party at our place in Kyiv, with my father's friends - gymnasts Yuri Titov, Boris Shakhlin and Larisa Latynina - Olympic and world champions (only these three are identified on the back of this photo in my mother's handwriting):

My grandfather and my father's friends

At work:

Сергей Андреевич Хохлов

And some miscellaneous photos:

Сергей Андреевич Хохлов

Сергей Андреевич Хохлов

Сергей Андреевич Хохлов

Сергей Андреевич Хохлов

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yulia Tymoshenko has been sentenced to seven years in prison today.

In the seven years since Maidan, the folks running this country - all of them, with no exception - have made a gazillion of outrageous, embarrassing, gut-wrenching, absurd mistakes, on every level imaginable. Unlike this year's Tymoshenko trial and today's verdict, however, most of these missteps had been a bit too local and a bit too minor for the "international community" to conclude once and for all that Ukraine was just too dysfunctional to be treated seriously.

Today, Yanukovych and his gang have finally succeeded in sending the clearest and the loudest message possible: we're a bunch of morons bent on ridding this country of whatever little common sense it's got left; we believe that the only reasonable way to rule this country is by chasing off all those who've got the guts and the brains; the rest of them are just the biomass that exists for the sole purpose of providing fuel for our Bentleys, Maybachs and Maseratis; we're thugs and proud of it and couldn't care less if you disapprove.

Anyway, I hope Tymoshenko's legal team "wins" the appeal, though even if they do and she's set free, I don't think there's much of what's known elsewhere as "opportunity" for the majority of the Ukrainian citizens at this point.


My apologies to the genuises from all over the world, who've been landing on this blog in droves today, searching for yulia v. tymoshenko hot pics, legs, pantyhose, leather, heels, ass, hot, sexy, young. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, your idol has been sentenced to seven years in jail today, so you better brace yourself for the long, gloomy meatless days.


By way of consolation - and just to indulge myself - here are a few pictures of Tymoshenko that I took in 2004 and 2006. Nothing too hot, just cute.

Dec. 26-27, 2004:


Feb. 26-27, 2006 - across Khreshchatyk from the infamous Pechersky Court:



March 19, 2006:



Oh, and just when I was ready to publish this post, a comment from an anonymous reader from Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, came in - poetry inspired by Yulia Tymoshenko's sentencing, no less: beautifully cretinous, very relevant, written in mind-numbingly broken Russian, most likely translated from English with the help of Google Translate. The comment was meant for the previous post, which is too apolitical and personal to be marred with such crap - so I'll publish the poem here instead, along with its Google Translate back-translation. Enjoy! :)

Я зажечь горелку на плите
Благодарные иметь дорогой газ
Напоминая, когда не было газа
Сейчас пламя горит больше красного
Она уже не ожоги синий и желтый
Давно прошли это надежда оранжевого мерцания
Некоторые искры, кажется потушен
Не сжигать в течение семи лет.


I light a burner on the stove
Grateful to have expensive gas
Recalling when there was no gas
Now the flame burns more red
It no longer burns blue and yellow
Long gone is the hope of an orange flickering
Some of the sparks, it seems extinguished
Do not burn for seven years.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Had a lovely date with Kyiv. For much of the past three weeks, it was a demented city, and I'm glad that it has managed to pull itself together for me on my last full day here this fall. Thank you, Kyiv. I love you, in spite of all the shit.