Saturday, September 09, 2006

a normal Saturday in Kyiv

A beautiful day. Dry and relatively sunny. Almost a total day of leisure, apart from finishing a report. Should have done a bit more on another report, but that'll keep till tomorrow.

In the morning hiked to another supermarket, www.furshet.ua. Same chain as the very posh one I used earlier this week, but this is for more normal people and not so much for foreigners. Seems to work on the principle - cram as many goods as you can together, as closely together, make it unpleasant for the customers, supervise the customers, and get them out of the door. Very tight aisles; goods stacked to the ceiling (about 5 m high), fairly grubby. Has a huge range of goods, however, decent-looking meat, fairly good vegetables (though it's more fun to buy them in the market), and now I have almost everything I need for the duration. Even had some Walker's shortbread! Back home on the metro; not too busy thankfully - had some concerns about being robbed, but in my carriage there was no such danger.

Popped out of the metro at the wrong end of the Maidan, Europa Square, and found myself close to an anti-gay demonstration. Very poor attendance, thankfully - maybe it was too early in the day, and not many people were around anyway. A bit further on were some soldiers practicing their goose-stepping, but I am not sure what for.

A further stroll out later in the day, to buy concert and opera tickets, found myself in B. Khmelnitskovo street looking at a bookshop which seems to serve as a cafe and foreign book exchange. Highly rated in Kiev in your pocket; maybe the food is good, but the books were the kind you'd leave behind when you move to another posting. In the same street, almost exactly opposite the German embassy, spotted another branch of the cafe 'Repriza' with the scrumptious cakes - I see they know a good marketing opportunity when they see one.

Strolled along Khreshchatik, on the way to the Filharmonija and popped into Tsum, the central universal store, of which there is one in each of the former Soviet capitals. The one in Moscow is so posh that normal people cannot afford it, and even most foreigners cannot afford it. Hugely tarted up all gleaming chrome, uniformed doormen, etc. The one in Vilnius is fairly ordinary; not the highest class of shopping centre, though renovated beyond recognition a few years ago. The one in Kiev does not seem to have been touched, bar a lick of paint, since independence, though at least the shelves are full. Contains lots of little businesses, including some stuck in unexpected little places. One of these was a cosmetics stall in the stair, which also seemed to sell wigs. The wig, on second sight, turned out to be the immobile head of the stallholder just above her counter; she herself was deeply immersed in a book she was reading.

The Pope is in Germany; all German TV is full of it. Apparently he is going to be there all week, and will visit all the places where he lived and worked (all are in Bavaria). That's something to look forward to, then.