Life in an Eastern Ukrainian Town
Some observations of Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Never heard of it? It’s the Paris of Ukraine. And cultural options, aplenty. Let’s first start with drinking. In K-town, there are 2,303 variations of insanely cheap vodka and 3,000 Ukrainian beers. Triple the price if you favour whiskey or wine. Other observations:
- Kramatorsk women under the age of 40 expertly navigate dirt paths, broken, uneven pavement and potholes in 6' stiletto heels with a steady, confident stride.
- A black cat resides on every corner. And he looks pissed off. Do not approach him (or her).
- Locals are friendly. They like to speak rapid fire Russian, despite the blank stares that indicate I’ve no earthly idea what they are going on about.
- Older men love to sit in public cafe’s with blaring TV shows on the iPads or mobile phones. They shout frequently at their shiny devices.
- Ukrainian celebrities live by plastic surgery. Kiev makes Hollywood look like a dirty hippy commune.
- K-town has beautiful parks and green spaces, but no lawn maintenance. By Spring, the grass grows up to 6 metres high. Mind the cracks in the pavement covered by spider-ish grass. You will trip and then land in something that itches.
- Happy mutant dogs with freakishly large heads roam the streets, mostly after 6 pm. They run in packs. The Alpha is the one with the largest head.
- Not a flinch when small arms fire is heard overhead.
- The cost of living insanely cheap. See #1 vodka.
- Every Ukrainian village has a ‘cultural center’ regardless of size. Said village also has an accompanying Soviet-era statue in a park or town square. They generally look angry. See #2 Black cat.
- There are approx. 37 types of pizza. Most popular is corn and mayonaise.
- Supermarkets carry 112 varieties of yoghurt. Ukrainian customers are always in a hurry. Dirty looks when you don’t bag your groceries fast enough.
- All buses are from the Kennedy administration. I do not want to know how many DNA varieties reside on the seats, or in the grandma-style curtains.
- The Babushkas are the gatekeepers of society;. they know everything going round town. They stare suspiciously from windowsills and front porches. I avoid their intimidating gaze, as they size me up and collect data. One day, I will infiltrate their secret world.