Monday, June 24, 2013

Ukrainian Hospitality

I could do an entire post on Ukrainian hospitality and the chivalry I've encountered.

Last night I had the opportunity to get together with two Ukranians and a racer (visiting 11 countries in 11 months) to make some music.

We had run into the two brothers, Mario and Igor (twins), earlier in the day and set up to meet at 8 PM at the bus stop in the city centre. 8:06 PM and they had arrived but there was no sign of Kaity, the Word Racer.

After a few minutes wait, we persued wifi in the center of the city and that's where the civalry came in. There's something instilled in Ukrainian and Russian men that I've witnessed time and time again where they must, must help a women carry her bags or, in this case, violin.

I don't think they even consider the option. From the times I've witnessed such acts, they feel... I don't even know how to convey how they feel it.

I imagine it's like how it's impossible to just slam a door on someone if they're walking behind you into a shop. You just can't do it. I imagine it's the same sort of "but... but... I can't." They have to help the ladies.

So, one of them insisted on carrying the violin - although later I got it back. I was allowed to carry it because he realized it wasn't as heavy as he thought it was and I had asked a few times -- I feel bad when people have to carry my things.

With wifi, we discovered that Kaity wasn't able to meet up with us then because the buses had ceased to run. I told her to stay at home, we would meet her there.

To get there, Igor and Mario had bikes we could use at their house - just a 10 minutes walk away.

Bikes. Bikes. Bikes.
Three bikes.

We arrived at their house -- one that I've walked past usually 8 times a week as I walk to the hospital and back. It was one of those houses that I day dream about -- the ones that you know you would've loved to play pretend in, sustaining the play with apples from the tree.

I was introduced to their step-mother (so lovely!), uncle, friend, and grandmother.

And then.. as we stopped to just pick up the bikes...

I was invited to take a seat.
And out came the kompot (a sort of tea/juice made of water and dried fruit).
And then, out came the cornbread (cornbread!).

I enjoyed the conversation abundantly and let go of any agendas (in this case, getting to Kaity in time) the moment we entered the gate. I wanted to get to Kaity's in time, but I was also a guest here. In Ukraine, you don't just swing by without talking for a bit or sharing a cup of something (from what I've experienced). I had to let go of my inner-Swiss and enjoy the moment.

Before heading out, they also couldn't see me going out without a sweater. I was handed a giant blue and green striped Van's sweater. I asked for shorts since I was wearing a long skirt which would've instantly gotten caught in the fender-less bicycle I was grateful to get to ride. They found a pair of huge shorts.

Baggy sweater.
Baggy shorts.
I felt like I was at home, wearing what I felt like on a whim.
So comfortable.

And then we rode! And that, that was bliss!!
I raced on... looked behind... and.. and.. found out I was riding too fast.

We made it to the Racer's home. I skittered up the stairs to where Kaity was... she was showering. Wiat. About to shower. She wasn't in the shower yet. Within minutes she was out and we all set off for the lake.

The sun was setting in perfection over the lake that was told was too toxic to swim in.

Igor and I rode on to explore different options to jam. The whole purpose of this excursion was to make music.

And we did.

And I was grateful.

Oh... and then the next day (after a night on the floor of the Americans') it was time to return the bike, sweater, and shorts. I was planning on just dropping them off.

You can't just drop something off in Ukraine.
Or perhaps it's just this family is incredibly sweet? Regardless of if it's culture or not, they're an amazing family and I'm grateful to be able to have the opportunities I've had (and will have) to get to know them.

Anyways, I gave up the bike and jumped in their restroom to swap their shorts for the long skirt I've been living in this week (thank you Celeste!). On the way out the door, I was told that the Mother Unit was making soup and was offered some.

"I like soup," I said.

The table in the backyard was set.
Out came the soup.
Lots of delicious soup.

But that wasn't it because in the Ukraine, meals seem to come in waves. Soup and.. there's always something else.

Soup and... I'm not sure what it was. But it was delicious.

Normally when you're a guest, you bring chocolates or flowers or something to someone. I didn't have any of those but I did have a fiddle. I'll play for my supper any day. A short jam session with Mario and Igor left her smiling and scheming up plans of tunes played on the corners of Uzhgorod.

Picnic tomorrow at 7 PM.

1 comment:

Your words make me grin.

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