Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Out in the Sticks!

Off into the far West of Ukraine today to run a seminar. Not the very far west, because there is a place called Chop which is signposted as 700+ km from Kiev, on the Polish border apparently. My place was only 300 km from Kiev (or so).

The project rule is that we do not travel by marshrutka (minibus) for safety reasons, and even the project driver is not allowed to make both trips on the same day. (Which reminds me of the days when I used to travel north through Scotland, leaving work at 3.30 pm, driving 400 km to Elgin, listening to a concert, and then driving 400 km back afterwards, arriving home at around 2 am. But never mind.) So we had planned everything, leaving this morning, workshop in the afternoon, returning home tomorrow. But then apparently the project rules changed, so we went by marshrutka. I am not convinced about the logic or the motivation of this all. So we went up by marshrutka in the morning, and returned with another one in the evening.

On the way we saw 3 accidents; one was a marshruta completely concertina'd from behind, the other a long vehicle lying across the full width of the motorway (which did not matter, since there was no barrier across the motorway, so we simply drove across on the opposite side to get around the obstacle - but with a barrier the accident might not have happened, we assume someone just attempted a U-turn across the motorway) and a further accident.

The marshrutkas have inbuilt entertainment - they all have DVD players, so the captive audience is trapped watching more or less appalling videos. On the menu today was:
an appalling Russian film about teenage boys trying to discover sex
a strange Russian film about some children and chases with snowmobiles
an American never-ending double act called 'Pure Women' set in the Civil War with lots of births, deaths, and diseases
another American film which I would describe as a 'God-film' where a doctor, who has been able to save a child's life, finds herself accompanied by an Angel or two. The Angel roles call for 'silent type' acting, with lots of significant looks. Truly dreadful. I thought I recognised the main actress. Since all films were dubbed in Russian I did not really get much of the content.