Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First Time Busking Alone

I’d never busked by myself before.
Tonight it was me, the river, and a violin.

Last week, I gave a shot at busking with Mario and Igor and that when amazingly well (that’ll get its own blog post). This afternoon, we met at the Chocolate Shop, drank something amazing, and then headed over to busk for a bit.

While I enjoy making music with them, I wasn’t feelin’ it this night. My fingers wanted to play different tunes in different chords but, with the group, all I do is follow. When they were ready to wrap it up and go back to the Chocolate Shop, I told them I’d meet up with them later. Together we made 60 Ukrainian hryvnia‎ (₴ - UAH – so greeve-na).

And I began to play.
On my own.

I played contra tunes, old time, broadway themes, hymns, Christmas songs, Disney, anything that came to mind, I played. I played the old song that used to play on a little music box that used to make music every time you opened the front door to my grandparents house. I played Ashokan Farewell.

I thought, “Maybe I”ll make a few hryvnia‎,” I thought. I was hoping for ₴ 24 UAH at the most, the equivalent of $3.

I played and played and smiled and people smiled back! I looked people in the eye and felt wonderful to be doing what I loved to do – making music. And they started to walk over and put money in my little violin case.

I loved the children! I loved it when they would stop and dance. I loved it when they would sheepishly toddle over to put in the kopiykas their parents had given them to give to the girl making music.

In the end, I made 251 hryvnia‎ and 60 kopiykas.
That’s equivalent to $31.45 in a bit over an hour.
Add in what I made with Mario & Igor and you get 301 hryvnia and 60 kopiykas ($37.7)

I also got a SUPER-snickers, a bag of candied nuts, a yoghurt, sparkling water I was told that Stalin likes, a chocolate, and a chocolate covered marshmallow. I guess, since I was barefoot (not common here) I must’ve looked hungry…

Let me explain what those numbers (251.6 UAH) mean in this country (because I really like numbers and I like numbers with words to 'splain-em).

I’ve talked to a few people and each one has said that they make around 8 UAH per hour (around $1). I don’t know what the average wage is – one site said that the average Ukrainain salary is $381 a month. Let’s say that’s with them working 20 days in a month – that’s around $19 a day. If they work a 9 hour day (although everyone I’ve met works more than that) then that’s around $2 an hour (19 UAH).

If we take the wage of 8 UAH an hour (what my friends make) – I made the equivalent of 31 hours worth of wages in just a little over an hour. That’s over 3 days of working smashed into a short bit. Divide that in half-ish if you want the $2 an hour wage.

What especially blows my mind, though, is how many people gave ask I busked away. I couldn’t see my case as I played. But, when I finished up, I looked over and it was full. People usually give one or two bills. There were a lot, a lot of 1 UAH’s in there – each one of those is a person who said, “Hey, I approve of you and I recognize what you’re doing.” One lady gave me 50 UAH which is totally unheard of here.

I am just grateful.

Ukraine. You are so good to me.
You’re so good to the American girl who is just amusing herself on the bridge for a bit.

One lady asked where I lived. When I told her, she thought I was paying for rent and told me I didn’t need to do that. She offered me a free bed in her home! A stranger heard my music and offered me a place to live.  Once again – blown away by kindness.

And that’s the first time I busked alone.
This world is full of so much love...


  1. Vanessa (of Seattle)July 3, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    In my experience, solo girls evoke sympathy/compassion for a lot of people. Could be cultural stuff, could be how we're wired. To top it off your red dress is striking and your smile is absolutely infectious.

    My guess? Many of those people did appreciate what you were providing, but a good number were likely also moved (perhaps through making some snap judgements about your situation) to attempt to take care of you. Caring for a stranger can be a loving act indeed.

  2. This is amazing and beautiful!


Your words make me grin.

Related Posts with Thumbnails