Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Utter The "C" Word in Kiev

Kiev, Ukraine

Whiplash! Every girl is dressed to the nines: colorful outfits, full make-up, their height augmented by four inch heels that perfectly match their ensemble. Hot night club? Nope, Kiev city street, at 10 AM.

Japanese restaurant. Prices here- Eastern Europe or the center of London? There doesn't seem to be much difference at the moment. Miso soup and some sushi please. Scarf it down. Gotta run, "Check please ... Hello? Anyone?" ... I start waving my hand, surely one of eight waiters will notice ... seriously, no one? The radius and speed of my hand gestures increase til I become a windmill on a blustery day, but still Don Quixote takes no notice of me. I can't help but laugh. Only when I rise to leave does my original waiter rush over with my check.

Hurry back to my hotel. Maria has agreed to show me around her city. The most gorgeous blue eyes I have ever seen (really) set against the contrasting background of dark hair ...

old style architecture (b-e-a-utiful)
 The center of Kiev is comprised largely of beautiful old style Eastern European architecture, along with "Stalin Architecture" that has a certain charm to it, and the buildings apparently are made to last.

"Stalin style" architecture. 
Of course, there is still post-Stalin architectural vomit. (below)

The Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and went through enormous upheaval immediately afterwards; law and order ceased, paper money became worthless, and if you were any type of business man, it wasn't safe to step foot out outside. Thankfully, the Ukraine is a much safer place now, as organized crime has moved from the streets, and into the Capitol Building. Change is good.
Independence Square in Kiev
As I mature, I have actually come to love entering churches, especially the beautiful Orthodox ones I found in Kiev. Their mammoth size, and the beautiful attention to detail takes my breath away, which creates a space where thoughts cease, and joy spreads throughout my being. The awe inspiring nature of these "houses of God" creates an opening for God to remember itself inside my body. Good bye thinking, at least for a moment.

Beautiful Orthodox church
You'd have to be color blind not to be mesmerized when looking into Maria's eyes, so I don't hear half the things she says, but walking together, I get the distinct feeling we are taking a liking to one another.
We descend down a hill with a torn up road close to the Dnipro River, and get stopped by a musician who implores me to listen to his music. A retro 1985 CD Walkman acts as his display. I can't resist, and end up buying a disc from him. Someone's got to support the arts.

me supporting arts in the Ukraine

We arrive at one of Kiev's many parks where a fiddler and drummer are playing traditional Ukranian music and teaching a dance that must have originated eons ago. "Let's join them," I suggest to Maria.
"I can't," she objects softly.
The exact wrong words to say around me. When Dannika uses this horrific word, I cover my ears, and bitterly complain, "Ow, my ears! My ears! My ears! You said the 'C' word!"
When she was four years young, my girl told me she "can't cross the monkey bars," and technically, she was absolutely correct, it was 'impossible,' her arms were too short to reach across and grab the next bar. I still was not about to allow this awful word to become part of her vocabulary so I asked her to find a way. Unable to envision one, she got frustrated and started to cry, so I suggested that she hold onto the bar and stand on my shoulders when she couldn't reach across, and grab onto the next one this way. When she finally reached the last bar, hanging on it, a happy monkey, I gently placed her on the ground, knelt down one knee, and explained to her that she is never allowed to tell me what she "can't do" because there is always a way to do it.
And poor Maria had just used the "C" word. I lean into her, nose to nose. "If you can't then you must," I explain, grabbing her hand and leading her into the dance circle.

The old lady attempting to teach us floundering newcomers the steps was pretty much a saint. Long after the recording of this video ceased, we got the hang of it and had fun :)

Come here baby, give me a kiss ...
If you can't, then you must.
Maria and me. 

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