Memories of Kyiv
It’s interesting how present events can bring back old memories. The war happening now in Ukraine and threatening other European countries has reminded me of the time I visited Kyiv.
It was June of 1981. I was still a child at the time and had no idea what the new decade, the eighties, was about to bring. I guess nobody did.
Yet, that early summer, my parents signed us up for a guided group tour through several cities of what was then the U.S.S.R.. It was one of my first longer trips abroad, and I was eager to see and learn about new places, cultures and customs, so much so that I brought along with me a tiny notebook. And so, during that trip, each night before going to sleep, I would write down every thought and memory of that day in my notebook. Recently I looked for that notebook, yet couldn’t find it anymore.
Still, some of the memories from that trip have stayed with me through the decades, somewhere in the back of my mind. Thanks to current events, those memories have resurfaced in a vivid…expected way.
Kyiv was the first major stop along that journey. I remember it as a nice city with friendly people and airy avenues.
For some reason, a few things, in particular, come to mind when I think of Kyiv:
- the churches, embodiments of a certain history and culture
- the catacombs housing several sanctified priests (and, yes, visiting those catacombs was a unique experience, indeed)
- the subway stations, embodiments of (then) modern architecture
What I remember vividly about our stay in Kyiv is our local guide who would use words from several languages to enthusiastically let us know that “le petit dejeuner is at 7 Uhr sharp am Morgen” – that would mean, “breakfast is at 7 AM sharp in the morning.” It would put everybody at ease. To this day, I’ve always found it funny and ingenious, and the memory of it has always made me smile.
And speaking of breakfast, for whatever reason, I remember the omelet that they’d offer us at that early breakfast. Maybe it’s a strange memory, and I’m not even into omelets, but I remember that it was quite delicious. It was so good that a few individuals from our group did inquire about the recipe, but that, in itself, was a well-kept secret.
It’s funny what we remember, isn’t it?
Several years later, the Berlin Wall fell, and, with it, the Communist Bloc began to crumble (thank goodness for that!). Easter European countries regained their independence, some through bloody revolutions. And in the process, people living in those countries started, once again, to dare believe in the idea of hope.
The recent Ukrainian crisis has brought back some of those memories.
The recent Ukrainian crisis has also united smaller Eastern European countries in their desire to help refugees, even though many of those countries are not rich, themselves. It united people from the entire European Union and from across the world in a global fight to keep hope alive, to keep that hard-won freedom alive. After all, without hope, without freedom, what are we, who are we?
I look at cities across the U.S. and around the world these days, all showing their blue and yellow colors in solidarity with Ukraine. I see so many individuals, NGOs, nonprofits, themselves in need of help, yet helping out in any and every way possible. Many small businesses display the Ukrainian flag colors and accept donations. Just take the Jola Polish Deli in Jersey City, for example.
If you want to support any of these nonprofits who’re at the forefront of helping Ukrainian refugees and also others in need, check out the following links:
Alina Greavu (Aluziva) as seen in an interview with CNN’s Miguel Marquez; she and her family has opened her home to over thirty Ukrainian refugees
I’m sure that any help would be greatly appreciated.
Stay safe and, as always, thanks for stopping by,
March 25, 2022: I’m happy to let you know that several of my images (some of them posted above) were displayed today, during the Berlin Modular Society #10 concert. All proceeds went to organizations standing with Ukraine.