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Back home

As we left Ukraine, a bit of Ukraine came to visit us in Washington. Alina and Alyona, two journalism students from the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, stayed with us for a month during their internships in Washington. They were delightful company, and cooked a fabulous Ukrainian dinner as a farewell gift.

Kyiv, as seen in the Moscow subway

One of the most striking things we saw in Moscow were the paintings in the Kievskaya metro station. These images of happy Ukrainian peasants were created in the 1930s, shortly after Stalin had brutally suppressed peasant life in Ukraine, starving millions to death. It was strange and ironic to come upon them in the subway, which is itself a powerful monument to Stalin’s era in Russian history.

On the train to Moscow

We left Ukraine by way of Russia, because it turned out to be much cheaper to fly back from Moscow than from Kyiv. So we took one more overnight train ride, and arrived at the Kievskaya station the next morning.

Packing up

The title says it all.

A final Ukrainian picnic

Many apologies for the long silence on this blog. The end of our time in Kyiv came upon us in a rush. Here are a few brief, final posts.

On one of our last days in Ukraine, our friends Oleg, Lena, and their daughter Dasha invited us for a lovely picnic in the Botanical Garden.

President Yanukovych and the wreath

This video took Ukraine by storm today. If you haven’t seen it already, you really need to watch it. The occasion: President Medvedev of Russia had just arrived in Kyiv. He and President Yanukovych of Ukraine were laying wreaths at a World War II memorial. Unfortunately, there was a rainstorm in Kyiv yesterday ….

Stiletto Slalom

Brigid finally found a way to do a radio story about Ukraine’s mind-boggling footwear! She realized that we were watching a kind of Winter Olympic sport right here on the streets of Kyiv.

So: Here’s a link to the piece that ran on The World.

Now, I spent a lot of time and effort gathering visual material that The World couldn’t use. So here’s a slide show version, too! Hope you enjoy it.

Machine translation

Our landlord Oleg speaks very little English. He prefers to speak Russian, but also speaks Ukrainian. We speak very little of either language. This can be awkward. At first, we relied on tolerant Russian-speaking friends to relay messages back and forth by phone. But then it occurred to me that Oleg might have an e-mail account, and we might be able to use the automated capabilities of Google Translate.

And it works! More or less. When Oleg needed me to read the electric meter the other day, I got this message:
Hello, Deniel’.
You will report, please, testimonies of electric meter for payment of electric power.
With kind regards.
Stepanenko Oleg.

A few weeks ago, we used such an exchange of e-mails to arrange some electrical repair work in the apartment. After I sent Oleg a message that the light had been successfully repaired, I received this charming response:

Hello, respected Daniel’.
Thank you for reports. I understood text without problems. I suppose that our mailbox and translators is a good alternative to linguistics.
I congratulate you and Your nice women with Thanksgiving Day .
Wishing you in successes in work, large health and happiness.
Oleg Stepanenko and all my family.
Happy holiday

Thank you, Oleg! And thank you Google!

The gang’s all here!