Thursday, April 12, 2007

Zoo, part 2

The Zoo entrance is so cheap that you can just pass through whenever you are going in that direction.

The weather is more light now and the decorations make me feel like I am back in Sydhavnen.

I guess I ought to know the name of this animal. It looks very kind and I was tempted to pat it on the nose.

This is either a camel or a dromedary.

Crazy people making photos of everything.

Large parts of the zoo are still under construction, or maybe it is always like that.

Feeding the animals here apparently is not disallowed, it is even encouraged.


In Ukraine you will know that it is Easter when you are not able to get your favorite cake, because all bakeries are filled with just one type of cakes.

This is the cake that they will bring to church and bless. I think it is cool that they are using cakes instead of dry crackers like in Denmark. Sunday afternoon I went to a church to see them bless the cakes but I was told later that they do it around 4 o'clock in the morning.

These cakes are everywhere.

This is one big Easter cake.

On Sunday I went out to see why there were so few people on the streets. It turned out that a lot of people had gone to this concert hall. I didn't really know what I was going into but it ended like a religious meeting with people doing manic hand gestures and clapping. They did not allow me to make anymore photos but I can tell that the show was sort of like an American gospel concert though the music and dancers had a very distinct Russian flavour.

Smoked prunes

In Ukraine they have a sort of smoked prunes which I guess they really like, because they are everywhere. The first time I experienced it was inside a big fat chocolate cake. I thought the cake had gone bad and I threw it out. Then I had smoked prunes ruin my yogurt and the other day I even accidentally drank the juice of smoked prunes. One time though these prunes really made sense to me. They have a so called 'Forest salad' in which smoked prunes are mixed with roasted walnuts, chicken and mayonnaise. That is actually quite good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Country side trip

My parents visited me for a week. We wanted to rent a car and go to the country side and see some old villages but none of us were very fond of driving here. But then my parents met some very helpful people at a party and the guy Victor arranged the grand Ukrainian tour for us. He also lent us his driver who came to pick us up in a black Chevy.

I sent my parents to a party at Stargorod and they brought back this sing-a-long book. I guess I should have known that entertainment in Ukraine means naked women. But my father did not seem to mind and when the six o'clock strip show was well over my mother also ended up dancing on the tables.

Traffic. I think the only rule here is that you should try to avoid pot holes and other slaloming cars.

These are my parents. They were also very fascinated by Ukraine.

The country side here is very brown. In Denmark farmers always at least keep some grass on the fields to keep the fertilizers from polluting the ground water but environmental issues are not a first concern here.

We stopped at this 'Kolkhoz', a collective farm, there were around 15-20 buildings similar to this one. In the 1930s the Soviet forced all Ukrainian farmers together in these places to work for the government. They wanted to make a quick industrialization of the Ukrainian cities so they took a lot of grain from the farmers and exported it to get money for machines. But the farms were not functioning so they did not produce enough and that way around 5 to 10 million people died from starvation during the early thirties. I think this is maybe even more scary than Holocaust, not just because even more people may have been killed, but also because it was not based on hatred but on what some people thought was a good idea.

The collective farmers were practically working as slaves but they were allowed to have small personal fields like this. These fields were functioning a lot better than the collective fields and from that they got their main income.

Here the kids are still using physical violence. This boy got his ass kicked and now he is trying some stone throwing instead.

This is one typical village. All the places have big fences and dogs barking.

I guess the dogs and fences are there to protect their vegetables. History probably has had a role in creating that protective mentality but I think home food production also is important for some families to survive.

Here old people are also selling pickles.

Our driver was a very religious man and he also liked flowers, when he saw this place he immediately stopped. But then the green Lada pulled up and a man in a matching military outfit came out to explain us the 'no-no rule'.

I find this quite aesthetic. It is for watering plants at a small botanical garden.

This is a church yard inside a forest. Many of the graves have tables and benches by them. I wonder if they are there for family picnics or if they are imagining that the ghosts of dead people will use it.

We ended up at a sort of resort area near a small river. There were cottages for rent and in the front there was this restaurant. As always when things get a little fancy in Ukraine it has to have some silly theme.

This is another restaurant nearby where we ate 'true Ukrainian' style. Victor told the waitress by phone what he thought we should eat.

Victor thought some different sorts of sweet vodka would suit the food. The one with almond flavour was quite good, a bit like Dr. Pepper. We also tried different sorts of pickled mushrooms and borsch and some rösti which Ukrainians think they invented.

Ukrainian Design

Coming from a land where many people are obsessing with minimalistic interior design it is quite entertaining to go to a Ukrainian furniture store. The sofa designs especially are quite inventive.

Lots of sofas, lots of colours, lots of patterns.

I think this one can even be turned into a bed of roses.

This one is sort of classy.

Comfy chairs accompanying a sofa.

I need to get a sofa animal.

Office life

I go to the office almost every day.

One day a guy carried a computer to our office and sat down and started to work. Nobody said a word until Jeppe asked him if he was new on our team, and apparently he was. My new collegue's name is Vladimir.

All the teams in our offices work for Danish companies and this other team celebrates that with a big Danish flag. I like that in Ukraine I am able to see a Danish flag without it having some right-wing connotations.

Every day we make some exercise, or that is at least intention. Max and Andrey can make more than 50 of these push ups, I am still at 25.

One day Denis had his birthday. We got him a very convenient device for his aquarium which will automatically feed the fish at given intervals, then he will not waste anymore time on doing that.

Denis brought us this cake. It looks common but it has a quite interesting composition. There are layers made from a sort of hard meringue and there is a layer of caramelized condensed milk with raisins. Then there is a layer of a stiff white substance which I assume is somehow based on egg whites, and on the outside there is a orange tasting frosting which is very light and meringue-like. Like most cakes here it is actually not very rich, I guess they are more French than American inspired.

This is the first day we ate lunch outsite a cafe. Alex just returned from a short trip to Denmark and he is explaining about a strange kind of bread which Danes call 'rugbrød'.

Every monday we go to play football.

We play my company against the others and this day we were winning by 10 goals.