Monday, March 3, 2014

Ukraine will never cease to amuse me

Well, there is no way for me to write a more interesting email than I did last week, as this week there were no major statues torn down before my eyes. (A small bust of Marx did mysteriously go missing in the night, but it's nothing to write home about (see what I did there?)) Anyway, since Ukraine's in the news a lot, or so I hear, I thought I'd just write a fun little list of things about this country that never cease to amuse me and that you probably didn't know about it. Unless I've already written about these things, which I might have, but humor me anyway. If this email had a subtitle, it would be "a love letter to Ukraine."

1. You can wear heels in any weather. Ukrainian women have ankles made of steel and literally never cease wearing 5 inch heels everywhere. If you look at the snow and ice on the sidewalks, you'll notice there are more wells made by stilettos than normal person footprints.

2. March 8th, international women's day, is an actually serious holiday here. It's like mother's day but for all women and people go all out. 

3. The babushkas run the country. If you ever need anything done in Ukraine, go find anyone female born during or before the second world war.

4. Making borscht is incredibly good for the soul. When I have stressful days, I make borscht and everything is better. There's something about the peeling, cutting, chopping, frying, and boiling that just makes anything sad or stressful go away.

5. Borscht is best on day 4 or 5. When you first make it, it's like "oh, this is good" but by day 5 in the fridge it's like "what is this fabulous pink soup?" 

6. You can fit infinitely more people on a small marshutka bus than you think you can. There is no limit to the amount of people you can fit on a bus. There is always room for one more.

7. They'll teach you that the letter "г" makes a G sound in the MTC, but you live in Ukraine, so actually it makes a H sound. Angels? No, Anhels.

8. People will call you and immediately hang up the moment you answer. They don'' do this because they're prank calling you, but because they expect you to call them back, because it's only fair that the richer person would pay for the phone call. Obviously. 

9. They care more about each other than politics. Without exception, every person I've talked to about the revolution, regardless of their political stance, expressed first and foremost their sadness that people were suffering and dying. I love them for this.

10. Ukrainians dress by time of the year, not by temperature. It doesn't matter how warm it is outside, if it's February you should still be wearing your Eskimo sleeping bag coat. End of story.

11. Tea must accompany every meal. No questions asked.

12. Sala, or raw pig fat, is good on sandwiches. Yes, you read that right. Raw pig fat. Inches thick. Sometimes, garlic is added. Entire cloves. 

13. When people get sick, they spend weeks or months in the hospital. I cannot explain it, but people just live in the hospital. Ukrainian hospitals are not any place you really want to live, but they do it anyway. Health care in this country could use a little aid. 

14. While very few Ukrainians speak English in a confersable way, their patience for foreigners trying to speak Russian is indelible. 

15. Ukrainians love to hug you and kiss you on the cheek. It's adorable and makes you feel like part of the family. 

Well, that was a fun little list. It really was a good week here. I had a visitor from America, went to the temple in Kyiv with Marina (my Ukrainian BFFL), and read a whole lot in Russian, because I've just discovered that my love for reading can be applied in both languages. So, I'm doing well. Thriving, one might say.

All the love,

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