Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What REALLY happens in Kharkov...

Want to see what life in Kharkov is really like?

Take 30 seconds to find out, courtesy of the Harlem Shake!

The Winter
And yep, that's the Bridge of Love in the background.

The Shopping Mall
Filmed in a parking lot of the massive Karavan/Daffy mall.

At the Office
Looks like a local IT company.

Honorable Mentions:
Public School
The Metro
Saltovka (a region of Kharkov)  
Verhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament)

Not sure what the Harlem Shake is?
Great, that makes two of us who are seemingly the last people on the planet to find out! :p

Monday, February 25, 2013

12 Words You Should Learn Before Coming To Ukraine

Yep, this one's important- the restroom!
Most of us do it- buy textbooks, enroll in classes, drop big bucks on the latest version of Rosetta Stone, all in hopes of learning a smattering of the local language before we arrive. Any one of those resources can teach you "Where's the bank?" or "Nice to meet you", but here are 12* useful Russian words that you probably won't learn from your class, book, or computer program.

 *erm, make that 12-ish words

Saturday, February 23, 2013

To those about to rock, we salute you

Hooray!, for we've survived the worst of it. Already I can feel a change. The snow remains only in sludgy, dirty piles. Some women are vetoing tights and fur coats in favor of bare legs and skirts. There has been actual SUNSHINE sparkling down upon the city recently. And that four week no-holiday stretch has finally passed and another holiday (perhaps the first holiday of spring?) is upon us.

This one is for the guys-

The holiday was formerly known as День Красной Армии (Red Army Day) and День Советской Армии (Soviet Army Day).
Glory to the military forces of the USSR!
Now it's reincarnated as День защитника Отечества (Defender of the Fatherland/Motherland Day) or sometimes just flat out День Мужчин (Men's Day).
Congrats on the holiday, men!
Cell phones are buzzing with congratulatory texts, holiday cards are being sent on, and- according to one of my students- anyone who can drink, will be drinking today... if they didn't already start yesterday! In fact, by 4 PM yesterday, D and his male coworkers were already enjoying a feast of various dishes cooked up by their female coworkers.

My English class last night only had 2 men in attendance. The coordinator pulled me out into the hallway: "It's the holiday, the men are celebrating", she whispered. The office sported various balloon soldiers standing at guard-
Admit it, your first thought was St Patrick's Day too :p
Artem, one of the two male students in class, was gracious enough to reveal his holiday gift from the company-
"The real man's toolkit"
A hammer, a pacifier, and a nut were in this burlap sack.
"son, tree, house" (implying perhaps that every man should have a son, plant a tree, and build a house)

So to all the men out there, Happy Holiday!!!

And women, don't worry. Our day is coming up soon... March 8th, International Women's Day! : )

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kharkov at night (two versions)

If you want to read graceful and handcrafted poetry about the surprising beauty / stark ugliness of a winter night in Ukraine, then visit Brendan's blog right now. Love his views or hate 'em, the man has definitely got a gift with words.

If you want to see a winter night in Ukraine, then I'm your girl ; )

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Week of Too Much

Ugh. It's just been one of those weeks. Have you been having one too?

Pull up a chair- let me tell you the story.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Making the best of winter

There's a lot of general dismay going around the Ukrainian blogsphere about February and this blog certainly hasn't been immune. The weather is always dreary and each day seems like a faded reprint of the day before.
I find myself going through old photo albums looking for proof that yes, at some point dry sidewalks and colorful flowers did exist here, that it wasn't just my imagination.
Despite all that, the temperatures have risen and sometimes the faintest glimmer of spring appears on the horizon. Have faith- it's coming! With that certainty, I wanted to get outside and document what's left of winter. D and I have been cooped up for the past month, working on websites and projects, and today was our first real afternoon of city exploration in 2013! I was so excited to get outside that I practically scrambled out of bed in the morning like a 7-year-old on Christmas day. D had promised to show me a shortcut he'd discovered between the Metalist Stadium and the Holiday Bowling Club.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back in the kitchen

After our business lunch spree, I rolled up my sleeves and got back in the kitchen.
Now, I proudly present to you... the first 2013 edition of на кухне!

Enjoy : )

My new favorite snack

This is the best thing ever. It's easy to make, inexpensive, and the veggies- even the cabbage- stay crisp for days. It's as satisfying as popcorn: crunchy, salty, and sweet. Source: Natasha's Kitchen.

A Blast from the Past

Kremlin Butter / USSR Highest Quality
This butter is produced right here in Ukraine! There's a factory in Khmelnytskyi as well as in Zhytomyr.

Curry, Ukrainian-style

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life, Part 13

We've had utility workers knocking on our door this entire winter. Each time they'd stomp in, politely inspect the heating pipes in the bedroom, scratch their heads, and stomp back out. There had been no warmth from that set of pipes in the bedroom since the city turned the heat on last fall and it turns out this was a building-wide phenomena... rumored to originate from our apartment! After three months of head-scratching, this man in camouflage cut out and replaced a 6-foot length of metal pipe. Immediately voilà, heat for everyone.

A few days later, his colleague showed up at the door to show us the problem: someone had inserted a fistful of metal welding rods inside part of the pipe, blocking the flow of hot water through the pipe. It seemed like this "act of sabotage" (to quote the utility worker) had been committed a number of years ago. We can only imagine that perhaps during the owner's remodel, she pissed off one of her workers enough to do such a thing. I could see that happening :p

Meanwhile, the city streets have been a hazardous place this season. Ice coats the sidewalks. Occasionally men with small hoes will be hard at work, chipping the layer of ice away and making it possible to walk confidently rather than shuffle, but their efforts only go so far (say 8 to 10 feet) before the winter again lays down its dangerous game.

Now that the temperatures have risen, the new threat comes from above. Instead of looking down, you should be looking up.