“Take your time coming home” ~ Fun.: Warped time in a Euro Championship-hosting Ukraine

Having a problem with time at the moment. Not enough of it to write blogs. Not enough of it to learn Russian. Not sure why Ukrainian television stations don’t show it (e.g. the little box with time and score in the corner) during some broadcasts of the Euro Championship matches. Not going to let this lack of it prevent me from teaching English a few hours a week (What can I say, I missed it.)-but that complicates my time here too.

In essence, I’m not really understanding how it’s both going so fast and seemingly stopping. Part of the confusion is probably partially related to a vampire sleep schedule I’ve been picking up on the weekends (a German friend brought up a good point though: “You’re 27, why do you need to sleep?”).

Roman doing his best Ukrainian grass figure...if you can read the time, you know what I mean about vampire schedule occasionally.

Roman doing his best Ukrainian grass figure…if you can read the clock, you know what I mean about a vampire sleep schedule because that’s not pm.

More than that though, I’ve been in Kyiv for three weeks and in a way it feels like I just got here. At the same time (think I’ve exhausted this motif), the Euro Championship started this past Friday and since then it’s felt like the tournament has frozen all regular activities from progressing as normal. It’s only been one round of matches, and in the best possible way it seems this tournament has been going on forever.

Still so many roads to travel here...still no idea on the time.

Nice random shot on my walk back home one early morning.

With that said, here are my top 5 initial thoughts on the EuroCup after the first round of games…

Fan zone area by Maidan Nezalezhnosti (or Independence Square)

Fan Zone by Maidan Nezalezhnosti (or Independence Square)

1: The picture above is of the Kyiv Fan Zone. It’s in the most popular area downtown and dominates everything around it, including metro stations. Interesting note is that to enter the fan zone you cannot possess an ipod charger cord because you might get drunk and choke someone with it (This was made clear to me through some top-rate gestures by security working one of the entrances). However, there is no problem possessing headphones. When I brought up the seeming irrationality of this (Yes, via gesture), the security guard looked at me and smiled before saying in English: “Welcome to Ukraine.” Happy ending: they were kind enough to let me put the cord on the side where they were working and I grabbed it when I left. Even happier ending: I didn’t choke anyone with my headphones.

2: The fan zone is definitely a fanatical place (feel free to cringe reading that), but one of the more interesting experiences thus far has been watching the German-Portugal game at the German Embassy. The whole story of how my friend Roman & I got invited to this small soiree is a bit long and convoluted: the important takeaway is that our new friend Tomas hooked us up. Free beer, nice screen with German broadcast (There were some delay problems but crucially it had the score and time indicator in the top left), and generally a small but convivial crowd from a host of backgrounds (i.e. there was networking…that’s the adult me talking). Perhaps most strangely is it created a strange sensation of me rooting for Germany.
It’s not that I’m anti-German: I love sausage & beer, intelligent and rational people, and of course prudent and sound fiscal states. I particularly like Dresden among a lot of other European cities in fact. Yet, in almost every match I’d ever seen them play I seemed to root more for the other team. “Erasmus” project creators will surely attest that years of living in Europe and consistent contact with such nice people has led me to expand my mind. Maybe. I think it was more the free beer. Or that they were playing Portugal. In either case, I’ll label the quite positive evening Dr. Strange Invitation or: How I learned to stop complaining about German Nationals Klose & Podolski’s {Polish} birthplaces and love the German side. . .maybe still too soon for love.

3: That whole thing about Kamyanets-Podolski and me being one of the taller people in Ukraine I referenced at the end of the last post…that’s probably coming in the future. Euro Championship really does dominate everything. Speaking of which, I only have a few photos and videos but if you go to my Facebook page you should be able to see a video a friend put together of the first few days in the fan zone.

4. So, due to both my personal experience and heritage, I am of course pulling for Polska. Yet, I think it’ll be good enough just to see enjoyable matches. Specifically, I’m lucky enough to be going to the Sweden – England match here in Kyiv later this week. In the past I’ve occasionally dressed myself as a Swedish hooligan out of assumed ancestral pride and well, lack of a better costume on Halloween. For Friday, I may buy a yellow shirt because I didn’t break my face paint/jersey/flag…Especially not bringing the face paint makes me mad enough to want to slip into a pillar eyebrow first…again. <Shaking head> Ah well, I’ll probably just wear my Tyskie shirt.

Shevchenko being applauded for ending communism, solving world hunger, discovering Ukraine and other feats.

Ukrainian striker Shevchenko being applauded for an amazing two goals, ending communism, solving world hunger, discovering Ukraine and other feats.

5. Last night was Ukraine’s opening match against Sweden. I was right in the middle of the fan zone again.

A 2 – 1 victory ensured that the city would not burn down. Well, actually, Kyiv may still burn down-but it’ll be in a jovial pyro-way so everything’s okay. Case in point, the atmosphere in the fan zone was electric. What may have made it even greater was that the match was played less than a mile away. In fact, even Swedish fans, who there are plenty of, were dressed in Blue & Yellow; this of course to support their side but it blended seamlessly with the overwhelming amount of people wearing Ukrainian Yellow & Blue.

20 minutes before the match, people were already singing and yelling in excitement. My favorite chant I learned from this goes something like “Whoever isn’t jumping, is from Moscow” (Need to double check that). This is sung (i.e. screamed) while-wait for it-jumping. Good stuff. Surprising though as on Friday night, it felt a bit like there was an exceptionally strong presence of Russian fans all over the place. I suppose some Ukrainians  happily root for Russia so long as they don’t play each other.

Anyway, so Ukraine beat Sweden 2 – 1 and the hero Shevchenko (aka God in Ukraine; imagine Michael Jordan combined with Alex Rodriguez with Boston women’s adoration of Tom Brady) scored both of Ukraine’s two goals. Yep, he’s a deserving legend and was treated as such (Friend commented after Shevchenko shot one wide early on: “Everyone would complain, but because it’s Shevchenko it’s okay.”). Conversely, it was intriguing on how the reaction to Yanukovich was resoundingly negative. The previous time he was on a jumbo screen (opening match in Poland) it was a mixture of boos and supportive whistles. This night it was a crowd who made their feelings known that they were stridently not in favor of the current President. Yet, from my humble opinion, it seems that demonstrations of displeasure, however loud they are, don’t seem to have an effect on him…Anyway, it’s about 2:30 am now and I still hear cars honking and people screaming in joy. I also still have some sweat from a guy jumping into my arms after the go-ahead Ukrainian goal. Yet, I’m still happy for Ukraine for what was a well-deserved and really fun victory. I’m also selfishly happy it was another event that reminded me how lucky to be here at this time.

*Originally posted at 3:00 am, edited 12:00 pm.

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One Response to “Take your time coming home” ~ Fun.: Warped time in a Euro Championship-hosting Ukraine

  1. Trela says:

    Happiest news, and your cord was actually still there for you to reclaim it. That’s like leaving my car keys in my ignition in the driveway… (which, of late, I’ve done repeatedly, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me). Glad to hear you’re well, though not sleeping!

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