This past Saturday afternoon I was on a nice walk trying to see more of Kyiv. The city is quite large with several different areas and each have their uniqueness emphasized by both the extremely wide Dnieper River & 7 different hills of the city (Trivia: What other city has 7 important hills?*). I was realizing that in two weeks I had seen a lot, met a lot of different characters, etc. etc. Though the things that have happened had set me on my way to understanding a Ukrainian culture and mindset, I still lacked anything other than gut feelings.
Then I saw this.
Okay: it’s still too early to form anything other than guesses but I’d be willing to wager that I wouldn’t see such a sight in Germany (having never been to Japan, I’ll still say it’s safe to assume I wouldn’t see that there unless Godzilla was chasing them). So, the conclusion my gut reached was I have noticed quite a bit of “life’s too short to not enjoy it,” among all strands of people in different ways since arriving. As I kept walking to Trukhaniv Island & crossed the same bridge I was trying to rationalize if this was a rash conclusion.
Then I saw a guy jump off the side of the same bridge from the pedestrian path. For a split second, my body felt like a blender churning disbelief mixed with inaction over what to do. Probably a second later I was letting out audible laughs because…
Never jump to rash conclusions-or off a bridge-without some careful thinking I suppose. That said, couldn’t help but feel such a sight had me thinking I was onto something here: more than some other places, ‘Carpe Diem’ are words to live by in Ukraine. Something to consider more as time goes by I suppose.
Random Thoughts: The Kyiv Metro
The Kyiv Metro is an efficient buried behemoth. Running from 6 am until midnight, it’s almost always full. In fact, having now ridden it probably 50-60 times, I’ve sat down maybe a tenth of the time. I’ve been a bit polite offering seats, but generally it’s standing room only. And that standing room is usually a bit tight so it’s normal to get intimately acquainted with people who may, or may not, share comparable hygiene interests.
However, you’ll never be on the metro too long as it really shoots all around town quite quickly and in peak times there’s usually a train every two or three minutes. In fact, the longest wait you’ll have is usually on the escalator going up or down to the station/trains. I can honestly attest I have listened to an entire song riding the escalator near my work (it was the 2 minute and 53 second Eels – Prizefighter which granted is not the longest song but did have me feeling both impressed by how far I went and feeling ready to run off the escalator by the time it ended). Moreover, Wikipedia tells me Kyiv has one of the deepest stations in the world at Arsenalna which is 105.5 metres/346 feet underground. That’s deep.
So that’s that for now. Next entry will be about my rapid excursion to the horribly beautiful town of Kamianets-Podilsky & hitting my head on most everything here in Kyiv. I will leave you though with a quote I wrote down from my friend Roman who helped explain why Christmas lights generally stayed up in Kyiv year round (which subsequently provided more insight into Ukrainian governance):
“Ian, don’t you know, it is because it costs money to take them down.”
*Roma & Kyiv: both 4 letter capitals better known by different names (Rome & Kiev). Both have 7 hills. Both have financial ‘irregularities.’ Both were the original hubs of great civilizations before they changed locales: Mosocw &…Brussels? Eh…so a few things are comparable.