At least I’m not in jail

Jill has been very busy running our household in the United States, but my workload has been cut way back in the satellite office in Ukraine. With just Nathan and I, the household chores are pretty low. Trying to achieve some sort of variety in our meals has really been the biggest challenge. I have an oven this time, unlike the last apartment, but I don’t have a microwave, unlike the last apartment. How am I supposed to reheat Mac ‘N’ Cheese? The stove top is so old school.

You’re probably wondering about the post heading. This past Sunday was VE Day, both in Europe (although arguably a downplayed day in Germany) and in America. While the day in America generally passes unnoticed these days, it’s a big deal in Ukraine. Here it’s called Victory Day because the Nazis were defeated. Because it was on a Sunday this year, Victory Day spilled into Monday as a national holiday, and many people took Tuesday off as well, but that wasn’t an official holiday. There were parades, brass bands, Ukrainian folk presentations, etc. It is a big deal. Because I’m a history buff, I thought seeing the parade in Eastern Europe would be a real treat, because on this side of the war, the Soviet Union battled the Nazis as they moved westward into Germany. The usual view of the war we know is from the Western Allies perspective, with French, British, and American forces landing in Normandy and moving eastward.

The parade began at 9:00am, so Nathan and I left the apartment too late, but hopefully in time to see the beginning of the parade. We walked our usual route down to Independence Square only to find it almost completely blocked off with barricades and police. OK, let’s follow the crowd up the side street to the next block. We did so, and were stopped in some sort of holding area about a half block away from Khreshchatik where the parade was to be. I noticed barricades again, but that people were being let through. OK, so we just wait our turn to go, right? Sure enough we worked our way slowly down the hill toward the barricades. Then I noticed the metal detector. Then I noticed that everyone around me had a Ukrainian passport in hand. Well, I suppose they are just being extra careful with security and all, and you need to prove who you are. No big deal, I always carry my passport with me because I am a foreigner here. Wait, what about Nathan? Oh yes, I have my copy of the court decree with me. Surely they will understand. Finally, it was our turn and I flashed my passport to the guy in uniform. He responded with Russian or Ukrainian and pointed to his left. Well, standing next to him was a man who I would describe as a “Fed” if I had been in America. He had a suit on, dark sun glasses, buzz cut, and a curly wire stretching from his ear down inside somewhere under his clothes. I showed him my passport, and he also said something back to me I couldn’t understand. At this point, I was a little flustered, and all I could get out was, “Sorry, angleeski?” somewhat hopefully. He responded sarcastically, “Sorry, Russian!” He pointed to his left also, and we quickly obeyed. At this point, I looked at Nathan and said, “home?” and he wholeheartedly agreed. He wasn’t too excited about Dad’s adventure to begin with, and I wasn’t up to finding another breach in the security line.

As I think back on this, I can’t help but wonder if we were unknowingly funneled into some sort of special viewing area. I saw a 10-second video on TV later with some nicely dressed kids running up to veterans in a parade and giving them flowers. The kids in the video looked similar to ones we were surrounded by. Either that, or the parade was for Ukrainians only.

We went for an orphanage visit later that day and I realized that my camera battery was dead so I couldn’t take any pictures there or back at Independence Square once we arrived to meet another Minnesota family here for adoption. Jeanne and Jason Ritzman, our traveling companions for the afternoon, had a functional camera, so I will beg electronic copies of photos from them when I get the chance.

We also missed the fireworks display that night. I had a conference call for work, so I couldn’t go. Jeanne had graciously offered to take Nathan to the display. We were told that the best viewing would be at St. Michael’s church just up the hill from our apartments, and that the show began at 10:00. Well, as it turned out, it was at 9:00. We had heard it start from our apartment, but Nathan was meeting Ritzman’s at 9:15. We were naively thinking the 9:00 teaser was only a warm up to the real display at 10, so Nathan went anyway. Wrong! As it turns out, we were shut out of almost all Victory Day activities.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. motorcyclemama5
    May 11, 2011 @ 09:33:47

    Wow, that was quite an adventure you took our new son on and I am hearing about it for the first time through my blog! Kind of ironic that I am going to the blog to find out news about my own family. : ) Yes, we are overdue for a chat or Skype conversation, that is for sure! I, too, am glad you are not in jail!


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