culture shock, simple happiness: random Kiev-Moscow thoughts

September 8, 2008

             Arrived in Kiev on 3 hours of sleep, smelling like a moldy blanket, to be greeted by hugs and handshakes from gloriously non-unibrowed, Aussie/French/British slang spewing, flip flop sporting, camera toting, bad arse mo fo gangsta/ninjas (AKA:Dsankt, Siologen, Quantum-X) who have quit their day jobs temporarly to ‘bust mad explorables’ for the next few months.  When its been 2 years, there is a lot of ground to cover and in about 5 min it was painfully obvious that I had been living under the figurative rock when it came to slang/current events/life in general, always helpful the trio made an effort to educate me, which in the next weeks resulted in awkward conversations in which I tried to use slang, only to generally horridly confuse myself, them and everyone around us.


               First afternoon spent a hilarious chunk of time wandering the undergarment sections of a large Kiev department store (think Sears or JCPenny in a historic building) in the midst of which we found several neon orange (complete with piping/trim) briefs that took a nod at Azeri bazaar shopping and seemed to be the perfect gift for hardcore ninjas; alas said undergarments stayed safely on their overly excited models awaiting their next unsuspecting/color blind victim.


                  The realization, which hit a few hours after landing in Kiev, (and sometime between  the mentioned department store trip and splashing through a fountain in a public square) that I was unremarkable, was, indescribably delicious, and while the culture shock maybe never completely subsided (the entire holiday I felt trashy wearing a old black lace tank top and had to be frequently reminded by a certain person in an effective way that showing of emotion/personality in public was acceptable/expected) the anonymity was a tasty drug (in reality, we, the four of us, were stupidly obvious as not belonging) and one that, surprisingly enough was confusing/fascinating/draining/comforting all at once.  It became tiresome trying to vocalize the differences/shocks/confusion of my silly/over stimulated brain, since nearly everything (other than the presence of a few brands of candy/fruit juice/lady speed stick) was to me diametrically opposed to what I’d been living with the last 14 months; really there are only so many times one can utter “…Oh, wow, in the ‘baijan/AzerBeeJay/Az its not like that, its…” 

Consider that less that 2 blocks from the Moscow hostel there was not only a sushi restaurant (affordable) but also a Pizza Hut (not Pizza Hat, though, I do admire the sly Baku nod to mass distribution of western consumption), and  boutique clothing store (with handbags the size of me and tops that would only fit a skeleton) and within a 2 min walk of the Kiev hostel a real honest to God over priced pretentious coffee shop (the kind which I sheepishly admitted to frequenting alone in the Americanstan days), a park with green grass (in/on which people engaged in all sorts of PDA/drinking/talking) and a grocery story that sold cheap bananas (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)  Of course as we, I, were only tourists, the perspective was/is entirely limited (as to the true economic/social state of said countries/cities) but being offered the chance to engage in normally forbidden simple happinesses was not something to let slip by, and with the eagerness of a child on her first big adventure, I did my best to make up for 14 months without by partaking of the following: (in no particular order)

Walking around (in public) in muddy clothing with a headlamp

Shameless PDA (everywhere)

Night wandering ( and not getting followed)

Photographing decay, graffiti, tunnels, drains, ‘lonely chairs’, abandonments, people et. all

Drooling over black knee high leather boots

Making grand exits from drains (video, security guards etc)

Thumbing my nose at cops

Eye contact with males

Sewerfresh (TM: Siologen)

Road trip  (ok, ok, it was a tiny one, but we got lost and had to make a 5 mile turn around; I’ll make it count for now, though Ds will likely disagree)

Good sleep

Waking up in the best way  (not involving a disgruntled rooster at 5am)

Climbing dodgy underground structures,

Buying alcohol (then drinking)

Rooftop views

Underground parties

Assisting  Siolo, Ds, Qx in drain shots

Jumping a freight car (first time!)

Drop Bear Animal Crackers (unexplainably funny)


One Response to “culture shock, simple happiness: random Kiev-Moscow thoughts”

  1. Kate said

    YAY!!! That’s awesome. SO glad you got to take this trip.

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