[Glimpses of Ukraine]

[Glimpses of Ukraine]

As some of you may know, I live in Ukraine.* I have a love / hate relationship with this country. Sometimes I can talk for hours about the benefits of living here, and sometimes all I can think of is “When will I finally leave this wretched place?” Yeah, like I said, love / hate.

There are a lot of this we all take for granted and often only when we see our circumstances from another’s point of view that we actually stop and think “Oh yeah! Never though of that!”

I live in the capital of Ukraine, the 1,500 year old city called Kyiv. It’s big and there are about 5 mln people living here (if not more now). Just like in other big cities, there is public transportation. Seems like we’ve got all kinds of it – we have busses, trolleybusses, subway (unfortunately no chicken-bacon ranch on cheddar cheese bread available), trams, taxis, and so-called marshrootkas. The latter ones are smaller busses that have certain routes (either similar to usual public transportation ones or other convenient routes that are needed) and they stop on demand. The price for a ride is twice as expensive as in usual public transport, but it’s faster and more comfortable.

One of our missionaries once joked about the amount of people that can fit into a bus here: “One more.” More often than not, this stands true. Those who take public every day become professionals at squeezing themselves into a space that under normal conditions would be considered tiny.

Regardless where you sit / stand / hang in the air, you have to pay the fee. Smart you are if you prepared the money beforehand. Lucky you are if you got in through the front doors so you are next to the driver. However, that is not always the case.

The observation was not mine to make, it belonged to a guy whom I was dating 7 years ago, but every time I ride in a marshrootka I think of it.

The level of corruption in Ukraine is staggering. Bribes, I am sad to admit, are a standard rather than a rarity. If you want normal treatment at the hospital, give some extra money. If you want to pass an exam (even if you have studied), you gotta make a present to the professor or buy his book (this is one of the reasons why I do not want to get another degree here in Ukraine, even though I do want to study more).

But back to marshrootkas.

If you manage to get into the bus and it so happened that you’re in the back, you pass the money to the driver via those who stand next to you. Just give them the money and ask them to pass them along.

It works. You can be sure that your money will reach the destination and you will get every bit of change too, if change is required. It’s quite amazing really. I guess a lot of the security comes from people watching people, yet it is amazing.

What are interesting observations about the people that live in your area?

** P.S. Yes, simply Ukraine. Back when our country was a part of USSR, we were called “the” Ukraine. Now that we are independent, “the” is no longer needed.

  • Krissy Buck

    In Kansas, especially in rural areas, everyone lifts their index finger from the steering wheel when they pass another car coming from the opposite direction.  It is just a little wave, “hello”. 

    • I love that! 

      Even though I haven’t lived in the States for a long time (sum total of my time there would amount to about 3 months), I loved the fact that I could smile at a person and s/he will smile back or wave or something. Here, you smile at someone and the reaction of the other person is “What’s funny about me?” *SIGH* We’ve got lots to learn. 

  • Mary

    Zee, thanks for sharing. Sydney has a lot of traffic congestion – too many cars for the roads. Public transport is mediocre so people want to use their cars instead of taking public transport.

    It is a shame there is still so much corruption in Ukraine. With the fall of the Soviet Union we all hoped for better things.

    • Yeah – well, things are better… in some areas. Not in corruption department though – I often joke that we need 40 years in this desert before the old generation of ex-Soviets die and new people will take their place. 

  • Joanne Norton

    Much of what you were describing is about the same as Uganda… except for the warmth of Ugandan weather.  The taxis, the “one more” and bribes.  Dave and I always refused, as did others, and it was amazing to see the Lord break through in spite of that.  So sad that gov’t issues can’t be handled and adjusted that will make it so much better for the overall population.  Sure understand your struggles.  AND even though Uganda has some of its problems, I often say I would rather be there than here.  I love it there; so many loving people.

    • Ah, the warm weather… I long for Spring to come… (I highly dislike cold weather)… 

  • Thanks for the glimpse lil sis.  Now for some pictures of said transportation and “stuffing” into it.  🙂 

    • Hehehe, I don’t have a picture of an overstuffed marshrootka, but here’s a picture of a usual one.

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