My acquaintance with Kiev starts much before we all start trying to delineate its limits through the window of our plane. It starts from the stewardesses with ‘Slavic’ style makeup – they won’t give us immigration cards until we ask them, since they don’t consider us foreigners. It also starts from pieces of hot chicken and lots of potatoes, which we receive in our lunchboxes on the plane. It starts from half-understandable (for us) signs in Ukrainian language.
The team that meets us do their best to ensure us that the next days will be interesting, purposeful and orderly – some Western European colleagues clearly doubt the latter point. A Swedish-speaking Finn jokes that the Ukrainians cannot tell a bus from a sauna. He will later have to pay (literally) for his impatience. Not willing to wait for instructions from our hosts, who will warn us about unreliable ATMs at the hotel lobby, he will later rage when one of these machines simply would not give him his cash. Continue reading