Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life, Part 9

Why, what's this? Tranquilizing shaving foam? Yes, please.
  •  I tried to talk D into buying anti-hangover shower gel (that's what it actually says on the bottle) so I could post a picture of it, but he refused. It's bright yellow, you can't miss it on the shelf! Another oddity: anti-aging foot cream.
  • This one really should go in a fashion entry, but... shoes. Shoes in Ukraine. Please tell me- are stilettos truly comfortable? My co-worker Kathi used to always shake her head in amazement at what her students would wear to class, as they swore that they were completely at ease in pencil-heeled thigh-high boots and 4-inch wedge gladiator sandals. Last week I saw a girl on the street with a sprained ankle (yes, it was all bandaged up!) wearing a 3-inch wedge heels. She was limping along with a boy on her arm and as we passed, I heard her say to him that she'd worn a long sundress that day because she didn't want people to notice her ankle. Really, I am trying to understand, but why didn't she just wear sneakers or a boot, then? Or pants? Also about shoes- note the sidewalk to the right. It takes major talent to navigate this (or cobblestone) in heels!
  • Root beer and marshmallows are not sold in Ukraine. My students got excited when I mentioned root beer one day.... until they found out it wasn't actually related to beer or alcoholic. As for marshmallows, there's a sweet called zefir (зефир). It's nothing like a marshmallow, trust me. People may try to convince you of this.
  • A popular car decal for Victory Day: Спасибо деду за победу! or Thanks, Grandfather, for the victory! It can still be seen on various cars around town.
  • Have you heard of Chernobyl Diaries yet? Here's the description: The film follows a group of six young tourists who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an "extreme tour guide." Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone... The movie opens at the end of this month. It will be interesting to see if it's shown in Ukraine and if so, what the local reaction will be. June 13th update: It's already being shown at a local theater (photo above). The Ukrainian title is called "Forbidden Zone". Also, this article may be of interest to you: Chernobyl Diaries: Reducing A Nation's Decade of Suffering to A Get-Rich-Quick Scheme.
  • More metro lore. Want to be the first one on the train? Do this- while waiting for the train, look at the edges of the platform. You'll see a lot of dirt and scuff marks. The areas that are slightly more polished looking indicate where the doors open. Stand there if you want to be one of the first ones to board. Try it out!
  • Most grocery stores and drug stores in Kharkov have little lockers for your bags. Shoppers usually lock up whatever they're carrying (purse, etc) before going into the store. Not sure if this service is offered as a convenience or in order to prevent people from stealing things. I'd always assumed that the lockers were a safe place for your bag but as it turns out, that's not so. A friend just had his bag stolen (cell phone, money, and passport) from a locked locker. Others say that this has happened to them too, so beware!
  • Last but not least, a souvenir cart in Odessa. In English... and SPANISH!


  1. Anti-hangover shower gel?! I've gotta see that! Please take a picture the next time you're at the store! :D

    And yeah, the combination of sky-high stilettos and broken up pavement boggled my mind. On a side note, one of the things I got used to doing was skirting the manholes; I was told they could be quite dangerous and might collapse. On returning home I find I still go out of my way to do this. That and looking up for ice (that might fall off buildings) during the winter. That was another big hazard around Feburary/March.

    Zefir is SO NOT a marshmallow. /disappointface

    Keep us updated on the reaction to Chernobyl Diaries! I kinda thought it was in poor taste. Would be curious to know what Ukrainians think of it.

  2. Ah yes, the manholes! D always says the same thing- don't step on them. Thankfully all the ice is gone but I still hear stories of old bricks/stone falling off buildings as people walk by, so I try to not walk directly underneath them.

    Totally agree with you about the movie. In 25 years they'll probably be making one about Japan.

  3. Off topic - just want to let you know that there is a Liebster nomination for you on my blog. Enjoy:)

  4. A Russian friend (with stilletoes) told me once that after many years of wearing nothing but high hills it's impossible to wear sneakers again - while the foot doesn't actually get deformed, it's painful to wear flat shoes. So apparently, it's not a choice any more....

  5. "Root beer and marshmallows are not sold in Ukraine."
    Try big non-discounter supermarkets like Rost or Vostorg for this, either personally or internetly ()).

    E.g. http://rost-shop.com.ua : in the Rost on Klochkovska 36 we found coconut milk that is quite rare here in shops.

    http://www.vostorg.com.ua/ says about itself that they are higher class supermarket, but I can't say anything more about them.

    1. You know, I don't think I've been to РОСТ yet, so I'll check it out. If they have either root beer or marshmallows, I'll pick some up for you :) Thanks for the tip!

      PS: What do you do with the coconut milk?

    2. We use coconut milk and other ingredients from that shop to mix piña colada at home. It tastes even better than in cafe's.