Month: September 2011

Gallery: Jewish pilgrimage to Uman

In one of the largest annual Jewish pilgrimages to any site outside of Israel, tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews flocked to the city of Uman – 200 km outside of Kiev – this week to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the start of a new year in the Jewish calendar.
Uman is home to the grave of Rabbi Nachman, the founder and spiritual leader of the Hasidic Breslov movement. He died in 1810.

A photo impression from arrival in Kiev to the Tashlich ceremony during Rosh Hashanah.

A youtube impression:

My God it takes an ocean of trust, it takes an effort it does…

Happy birthdays and goodbyes 26.5 floors above Kyiv.

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One Friday afternoon in Kyiv in Autumn

Bizarre as it is, Trukhanivska island like most of the other islands in central Kyiv, remain beautifully quiet and defiantly free. It’s hard to imagine that any such territory would remain free and accessible in the heart of other European capitals.

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I thought Russian was hard, but apparently the Polish language distinguishes between a male cousin who is the son of an uncle (“brat stryjeczny”) and a male cousin who is the son of an aunt (“brat cioteczny”); and a female cousin who is the daughter of an uncle (“siostra stryjeczna”) and a female cousin who is the daughter of an aunt (“siostra cioteczna”).


See wikipedia for more linguistic befuddlement

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What’s the difference? 33 differences between Oxford and Kiev.

As a follow-up to my, much longer, ‘101 reasons to love Kiev’ I have been compiling more lists. I don’t know why, maybe because I once read High Fidelity and have way-too-much in common with Rob Flemming than I like. Anyway, in an attempt to summarize the differences between Oxford and Kiev in the fewest possible words. Here’s two lists:

List A. 22 things you see in Ukraine but don’t see in the UK, well not in Oxford anyway…

1. Policemen smoking
2. Big, no, MASSIVE adverts. Sometime who apartment blocks are turned into adverts
3. People on motorbikes with no helmets
4. Trains with cabins, music, curtains and beds
5. Babushkas (grandmas) with colourful head-scarves
6. Stray Dogs
7. Grown women behaving like children in public
8. iBoxes (useful automated machines for paying for things)
9. Cyrillic writing
10. Dried fish
11. Ukrainian Bags
12. Small 1-man currency exchanges
13. Animals for posing with (Monkeys, Eagles etc)
14. Flags in cars
15. Ladas with spoilers (they are the best)
16. Ukrop
17. Semki
18. Slims (slim cigarettes)
19. Real fur coats
20. Bars inside corner-shops. You can actually buy a pint and drink it in some shops.
21. Milk in a bag
22. Security guards, with guns …in the lingerie section of a shop

…and, List B. 11 things you can find in Oxford but not in Ukraine.

1. Cycle paths and people cycling with helmets on
2. Double-Decker buses
3. Wifi on buses
4. Vegetable samosas
5. Men dressed like teenagers
6. Hungarians, Slovakians and Nepalese people
7. Shops without security guards
8. Self-service checkouts
9. Charity shops
10. Talking bus drivers
11. Police cars in pursuit

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I had a pint at lunchtime and the barmaid was Hungarian. This reminded me that I had 2000 Hungarian Forints (about £5) in my wallet which I could change into usable money.

So, I walked into the change bureau M&S and the old woman in front of me was buying a big wad of Forints. I changed mine back into GBP (£5.67 to be exact) as the old behind the counter joked that it would be ‘cruel’ if I couldn’t change them.

I walked outside and a woman walked past me shouting at her child in Hungarian.

Mi ez? I thought. What’s for dinner, szalonna and goulash?

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