Sunday, May 29, 2011



So I walked across town to see Elena's (lady I met via couch surfing) dancing thing. So, I wandered over that way. I was working on avoiding spending money on a cab. Since I didn't know how long it would take to get there and such, I wound up showing up an hour and a half early. Elena seemed surprised I walked that far (me too) and seemed pleased I showed up. After that, a series of mis-communications. I asked if there was a place I could hang out. I was tired from my walk and hoping to be told about a chair I could go sit quietly on in the building somewhere while waiting for the time to tick by. She said 'perhaps after the performance'. So, I was banished from the nice cool building into the park across the street. She had mentioned various tourist stuff on the other side of the park I could go see but I was more interested in sitting quietly, even if it was outdoors. So, I waited around until it got close to the show time.

Eventually, it became time and I went in and sat down. I got a lot of curious looks. The show came and went. It was a lot of people who were in very good shape doing graceful things. What I was really looking forward to was the after the show time. While I do occasional cultural things for the experience of having done them, I'm not what anyone would call a cultural connoisseur. I was pretty much there to be able to have a nice chat with everyone after the show.

In America (note, I realize I'm not in America - this is why people keep speaking Russian to me) I've been to some plays and such in the past by invitation. After the play is the hang out time while the actors unwind and eventually everyone - actors, their friends, their acquaintances, the strange guy who doesn't speak a language anyone can understand, all go out to sit and drink somewhere.

This doesn't seem to be the case here. Apparently, it is a time for close friends and family only.

So, I was dismissed from the building and decided to wander off to see what else was going on in the city.

The answer was 'not much'.

So, I retaliated by sending out yet more couch surfing 'coffee or drink' invitations. I will find a way to talk to more people...

In later talking to other Ukrainians, they tell me the culprit may be American movies. When the girl takes the hero out, they invariably have sex. I'm not really planning on having sex in the Ukraine (or anywhere else for that matter) so I was frankly floored by this. I can see how people might be leery. I just want to talk to a table full of people and I'm happy. Sigh.

I suspect also there could be a cultural difference. For example, when I hung out with Diana and Suramon (the dark wizard) in Romania, I met their families, their friends, their business associates. I was made to feel very welcome into their lives - taken to run errands and so on. Here, it is a lot more segregated. I had asked Sylvia who runs the hotel about it and she related a story of how a lady from elsewhere who lived here never ever got invited out by coworkers for a drink or whatever after work despite getting on well with all of her co-workers.

I can respect that sort of cultural difference, but for me, meeting up with more people is what I'm here for. Fortunately, I've got a lot of the world left to look for where it is the opposite way.


I met up with a couple - Sergey and Roksana who were both reporters. He covers politics and sports, she does human interest stories. She wanted to do a story on me as apparently, I am the only person in Odessa who does not own a cell phone. Interesting and weird. Sergey said he might have someone who could use a native English speaker to help teach the kids English. We'll see what comes of it. They were both nice folks.

David is a guy from Belgium who knows a bunch of languages (even by European standards) and learned Russian just for this trip. He is wanting to see the world and decided to start with Europe. Cool guy.


Due to poor translation skills, side dishes are widely called 'garnishes' on restaurant menus.


I've finally gotten another one filled up so I will be sending Jana two this time, as soon as I find the post office tomorrow. I've been told it is close and no problem to find. We'll see how it goes.

In the Ukraine, they have a system for sending packages. First, you take the stuff you want sold to a little old lady who has string, tape and brown paper. She makes a nice envelope for you. The cost is about 9 UAH (a buck). Then, you take it over to the mailing counter in a different room within the cavernous post office. Cost to mail two notebooks to Jana, about 45 UAH.


It looks like as far as couches to sleep on, Sevastopol (Ukraine) sucks. I'm going to probably look up people who might be interested in hanging out when I get down there.

I've got my train ticket down there ($21, second class sleeper. Yes, Pete, I specified a bottom bunk) for Saturday. Sadly, it leaves close to midnight.


I'm also going to start working on Istanbul afterward to see if I can spend more time with locals. As of the time of this writing, I've sent out about 100 couch surfing requests to people in Istanbul. I've gotten a couple snooty letters back from people who didn't like a form letter. Tough. There is an amazingly low response rate on this. I haven't been keeping track of the exact numbers, but this is how it seems to go. Send out fifty requests. Five come back to 'maybe', depending on the time. Once I narrow down the time, I might have one or two that can accommodate me. Anyone who sends out ten or less expecting results will probably be disappointed.


Siberian dumplings (a kind of ravoli which supposedly had three different kinds of meet in them) and baked in sour cream, 49 UAH. It was 300g of food which I couldn't finish and rated as 'OK'.


I was told about an orphanage - I'm going to go check it out. Nike could always use more workers - right?

1 comment:

  1. Garnish is more than just parsley on the plate. In formal dining or bistro type atmospheres the garnish is the side dishes. They complement the meal with flavor and color to make the plate more appealing.
    “Food should be fun. We eat with our eyes, ears, all of our senses.” - Heston Marc Blumenthal

    Anthony Bourdain actually did a show in istanbul. Here's a link to some of the places he went to while there. If passing time you can also see the show on youtube.



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