Sunday, August 19, 2012

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life, Part 11

"A citizen of the USSR has the right to vacation": print from a postcard I picked up recently.
It's already the middle of summer and everyone in Kharkov is sporting at least one of these two things: an insane tan and/or summer shoes. The tanning thing started off a little slowly but now practically each and every person has vacationed in Crimea and has turned an appropriate shade of "I spent 23.5 hours a day baking in the sun." Maybe it's just because last summer I was (like many a summer before) in Alaska that this shocks me so much. I even saw a tiny tanned baby earlier in the season! D and I have not been to Crimea and have failed to achieve maximum tanning potential. Translation: we're white. Last month we were berated for this by a talkative old man on the metro: "Why are you both so freakishly pale? You need to go to Bulgaria! Now! Go!"

And about the open-toed shoes... on the metro I noticed that many middle-aged / older women have deformed toes. Is this from all the years of wearing sexy high heels?
Hello, detour! Tis also the season for pipe repairs.
One of the best things about summer? Watermelon mania!!! 16 cents a pound!

Ukraine grows a lot of watermelons and now they're flooding the streets. These guys let me take a picture as they were unloading by hand- guess how much?!- 35 tons of watermelon!! We calculated that out to be about 4,000 melons.

By the way, need car insurance? Simply look for a slightly sketchy-looking parked car parked on the sidewalk with a bored man in the driver's seat and a sign in the window.

Toy guns are popular with the children here. There's the "holy cow, is that real?" machine gun, as seen here- Dad holding his son's toy at a drinking fountain in Gorky Park. Other kids run around with a flat piece of wood carved in the shape of a rifle. Meanwhile, actual gun ownership does not seem to be very common. People are shocked by how casually and frequently Americans own guns.

Test the Russian-ness of your soul here. Now we just need a Ukrainian version...

A couple of things about the escalators in the metro.
#1) Some of them have a guardian, a women enclosed in a tiny glass box at the bottom who watches the elevators all day long and occasionally yells at people. I assume she's there for safety as once I saw a passenger fall down and the woman immediately stopped the escalator. On the other hand, some long escalators don't merit such a service. Why not?
#2) Often there are three or four escalators in same area, a combination of some going up and others going down. However, 98% of the time they are never simultaneously operational, despite the size of the crowd.

Children's menu? Senior's menu? Not likely! One of my students was looking at a US menu- "they have special dishes for kids and for old people? Huh?!" Talking about food equality, it's also popular to feed your cat the same things you eat: sour cream, buckwheat, meat. An old babushka cornered кит and I on a bench one time and repeated that these were the best foods for a house cat. I don't know if кит agrees, as he usually picks out the meat and leaves the buckwheat.

new public restrooms
Fancy new public toilets have appeared around town. The usual thing is a row of 3 or 4 porta-potties in the park attended by an old woman who collects your money, doles out a couple of squares of toilet paper, and (in theory) periodically cleans the stalls. But now there's this new self-serve self-pay option. Which would you prefer? :p

wedding party in front of the old restrooms in Shevchenko Park.

Speaking of toilets, check out this brand of toilet paper called "Grandmother's Stash"... a friend sent me this photograph several years ago either from Ukraine or Russia, can't remember. If you click on the picture you can see actual leftover printed material from whatever they made the toilet paper from!

School starts soon and the shops are full of back-to-school supplies: piles of blank notebooks, smart school uniforms, and the huge fluffy white scrunchies that every schoolgirl from age 6 - 16 wears in her hair. Language schools have launched ad campaigns to attract new students. I'm hoping to take a Spanish class in the fall, but am not sure about this particular school...
Is that some kind of strange giraffe language?

No comments:

Post a Comment