Tag: Europe

Cycle Training Day 4

I’m a little bit late starting today (9am) but only because I was eating Sushi and drinking beer with my brother and Ollie until 1:30am.

We were celebrating the first night of Kyiv’s first open mic night ‘Caberet Clandestino’ in Podol.

I had the idea when Pete (my brother) said he was coming to Kyiv this week.
I like the relaxed and random nature of open mic events and its something I miss when I’m here.

Once Pete had agreed, the rest all fell into place quite easily. I’m not entirely sure that I explained the concept to my Ukrainian friends very successfully and there was a little bit of ‘we don’t do that’, but everyone was willing to give me the benefit of their doubt and as a result we had an amazing night.

Bochka (our venue) gave us their stage for free on condition that 30 people attended and they also provided a short grumpy sound guy for a very affordable 250 UAH. Kyiv.Cool, Facebook and our friends all promoted the event, and Pete and Ollie arrived with a large stage banner, guitar and loop pedal.

Much to delight we had about 50 people and after a drunken lawyer took to the stage to sing a nursery rhyme (three times and while Pete provided some beatbox beats) people’s inhibitions evaporated and we had singing, comedy, poetry, hip-hop rapping and even a mime/strip routine.

Even the grumpy sound guy was tapping his foot and joining in!

I’m now confident not only that Ukrainians like open mic nights, but also that they are open and willing to try new things and not afraid to perform! I had assumed these things to be true anyway and it seems I was right.

Expect more open Mic events soon.

Now back to the cycling. It seems cycling is more popular than I thought as both bikes were occupied this morning forcing me onto one of the lazy sit-down cycle machines. It’s basically the same but with a chair and pedals out the front and apart fe being uncomfortable, I can’t tell what the difference is.

It seems like the post-9:00am crowed are a lot older (50+) so although I’m half-asleep I feel young and fresh-faced in comparison.

Level 5/6

Time for a swim…

Cycle Training Day 3

Monday Morning 08:45

15:00 minutes
Level 5
5.32 km
101 calories

I’m too tired to write

Cycle Training Day 2

So as not to over do it, yesterday I took a rest day. It was Friday after all.

Today, Saturday, I’ve decided to combine a slightly longer cycle with a slightly shorter swim and then a far more relaxing sauna. However I haven’t eaten and nine minutes into my cycle and I’m absolutely starving.

As it’s Saturday morning, the gym is quite busy and for the first time there is a woman on the cycle machine next to me. A comrade!

I also discovered that I can change the LCD display so it shows bad pop-music.


45 minutes
15.07 km
277 Calories

Singing for the signature

As thousands of Ukrainians descended on Maidan Square this weekend in support of Ukraine’s ‘European future’, the Ukrainian diaspora in Brussels gathered in Place Luxembourg to do their bit.

Unsurprisingly, this involved singing, smiling and lots of blue and yellow.

Sadly I missed the songs, but I catch some of the action ūüôā

IMAG1991_1 IMAG1993_1 IMAG1995_2 IMAG1997_1 IMAG1998_1 IMAG2003_1

More on the main protests here: https://www.facebook.com/maidanua?ref=stream

Museum of… toilets

I’m serious. It’s not a joke, Ukraine (Kyiv) actually has a museum of the history of the toilet! ¬† …or lavatory, crapper, throne, bog, thunder-box, or whatever you want to call it.

Allegedly (and quite believably) it is the first toilet museum in Europe.

Mini boom-boxes at Kyiv's toilet shrine

I haven’t visited yet, but I most¬†definitely will and according to its website, when I do I can see an ancient ‘brass ship toilet’, a 14th century English¬†porcelain pot and a German ‘night vase’.

Translated by Google, the museum’s website starts with three relatively understandable, but slightly odd questions:

“Have you ever wondered: “How to start a civilization?”

“How to determine the level? “No?”¬†

“Did you know that until the 17th century in European cities could build a house without a latrine?”¬†

and then, quicker than you can say ‘turd burglar’ ¬†the translation¬†descends into grade-A nonsense…
“if you’ve heard about the toilets, laboratories, toilets, “do not waste a single minute,” toilets “three in one” in the toilet tanks, gold toilets?¬†No?¬†And what do you know about the first natural human needs?¬†All of them?¬†Or anything?”¬†

So, rather than pooping-around with badly translated nonsense, I recommend a visit. Apparently one can learn about ‘world toilet day’ and gasp in awe at the largest collection of¬†miniature¬†toilets in Ukraine. ¬†You’d be crazy to miss the¬†opportunity¬†and its FREE.

Via Ukraine and long live the dunny.

Gangster-looking man in white shoes gives a crap interview

To be honest, if my teacher took me to a 'toilet museum' I would also look bored

Ever wondered what's inside? ...no, me neither

If you would like to visit, please see the toilet website for more information http://www.toilette.com.ua/

Home(page) of the toilet

NFL Europa and Babushkas

A¬†tribute¬†to Ukraine’s most belligerent yet beautiful phenomena – the Babushki. The real power driving Ukraine.

Generally speaking, Babushka are not built for acceleration, but, when they reach their top gear, it is hard to slow them down.

By Brent Jordan Yocum

It is a pity that NFL Europa had to close up shop and high-step back to the United States. Although, it is understandable why they blew the whistle on the whole operation. It makes perfect sense: the demographics simply are not there. Europeans, in general, find the sport of American Football to be brutish and ridiculous, starkly contrasting with the elegant, time-tested sport of soccer (football). For most Europeans it is incomprehensible how a 6′ 2‚ÄĚ (1.88 m), 335-pound (152 kg) man, nicknamed ‚ÄúThe Refrigerator‚ÄĚ could be called a professional athlete‚ÄĒmuch less a footballist. Even if one could get past the Steel Curtain, past the Monsters of the Midway, past the Purple People Eaters, an even larger stumbling block is the very name of the sport‚ÄĒfootball. Well, it is a crafty combination of both history and laziness. Why is it named football if they never use their feet? That is a preposterous question. Of course they use their feet, it is not as if they are running on their hands for sixty minutes. Sure, I understand that they rarely kick the ball in American Football, but have you ever tried to play soccer with an American Football ball?

If NFL Europa had been able to hold on to the league for another year, I could have opened the world’s eyes to the untapped, potential talent of Ukraine. I am not referring to the stereotypical Slavic men that are seen in James Bond films, nor am I talking about the invincible Ivan Drago of Rocky IV. I am talking about the –Ī–į–Ī—É—ą–ļ–ł‚ÄĒthe grandmothers. Babushkas are a uniquely powerful specimen. Babushkas are an incomprehensible, irresitable force. Bashukas are tough‚ÄĒtougher than Ford Tough tough‚ÄĒtougher than Office Linebacker Terry Tate. They have endured and outlasted Communism, famine, government changes, wars, economic crises, and the violence of Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Unshakably they live their lives with their gold teeth glistening in their mouthes like embers that fuel their blazingly purple-tinted hair, which illuminates like a hot flame everlastingly ignited atop their heads to signify their never-surrender attitude.

* * * * *

The rushing breeze of the passing metro cars gave no relief to the scorching temperatures that were melting Kiev in the midst of a humid, heatwave summer. Standing on the outdoor platform of the Levoborezhna metro stop, I was bound for Pecherska, where ELC’s1 main office was located. After a difficult early morning, rushing around Kiev teaching private lessons and business classes on only a couple hours sleep, I was headed to my weekly Wednesday meeting with my boss and fellow teachers. The blazing mid-day summer sun beat down on the city, summoning sweat from my every pore. My once-pristine undershirt began absorbing the sweat which caused it to turn tan like the crust of perfectly baked bread.

As the train came to a complete halt and threw open its door, I was hit by both exiting passengers and the overpowering scent of body odor. Sure, it would take a little longer to go to the center of the city and transfer stations underground, but the cool tunnels of the deep Kiev metro sounded more refreshing than climbing Jacob’s Ladder at Arsenalna to ride a sweaty bus several blocks. I would rather take my chances Barry Sanders-ing my way through the crammed underground transfers to change lines. In essence, it was more practical to spend extra time and walk than risk passing out on the bus of heatstroke and missing my stop.

My buckled knees gave out beneath me and I crashed onto the pleather bench seat of the metro car. This car was packed with hungry lunch-time travelers daring to venture out into the summer swelter and piling into a burning metal-wagon with no ventilation. The windows of metro cars in Kiev must be welded shut; it’s seldom a crack is made to allow some relief from the sauna steaming inside. Ukrainians seem hypersensitive to breezes that come into a speeding train. They would rather not risk becoming sick; they would rather die.

At the next station, sticking to the seat where I am reclined, I watched a Babushka board the train carrying two cumbersome bags filled with only-God-knows-what. Their whole lives must be packed in those bags. These elderly women always put on display such a pitiful show of how frail and weak they are. But God help anyone who would try to help them carry those bags. Acting as if she is so fragile that she will crumble to dust if she cannot have a moment to rest her aged, aching bones on the seat where my skin has fused together with the pleather. Well, if it is truly so difficult for them, then why are they always carrying around two monstrously full bags? Perhaps they would feel less wear and tear on their bodies if they learned to take it easy.

* * * * *

As I have said before, Babushkas are a different kind of specimen. They live in a society and world of their own. If I had been able to start my dream franchise in NFL Europa, the Ukraine Purple-Haired Babushkas would have been a force not to reckon with. I would have signed several Babushkas to my offensive line and, undoubtedly, the fullback position. Generally speaking, Babushka are not built for acceleration, but, when they reach their top gear, it is hard to slow them down. The sheer force and wrath of Babushkas are not recognized until one comes into contact with such creatures. Even then, the incomprehensibility of these stocky, cubic compressions of iron have proven to be a doomsday for many young children, and innumerable rugged men. Of course there are disadvantages to establishing a professional sports team comprised namely of senior citizen women. But the fact that these geriatrics play ruthlessly by no rules, cancels out the fact that they need to rest several minutes after each down. Their tenacity makes up for their weathered physical conditions. It is not always about bringing the pain to your opponent. It is about intimidation‚ÄĒits mind games.

Babushkas are short and thick. It is uncommon to find them without their signature heavy bags. These bags are the source of their power. To take the bags away is like shaving Samson’s head, like taking spinach away from Popeye, like handling kryptonite around Superman. Simply slap helmets on them (not because they need it, but because it is required in the rule book to play the game), hand them two bulky bags and pitch the ball to your star running-back‚ÄĒthe gold-grill wearing Nastya Nikolayevna. Babushkas’ skin thickens to the density of a rhinoceros’ as their eyes focus in on obstacles appearing in their way. They snort and snarl apocalyptic fires from their brimstone nostrils while deflecting people left and right. What would happen when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? You mean, what happened? Their explosiveness gave birth to a hybrid between the unstoppable force and the immovable object‚ÄĒthe Babushka. A new star is born when two worlds collide. And when Babushka’s course is plotted out, nothing shall deny her as she trounces the defense for a 99-yard touchdown. Finally, after clearing out everyone in her path, leaving broken bodies wasted and injured, strewn all over the field, she rumbles over to the bench and stands in front of the kicker to intimidate him into standing up and forfeiting his seat as well as his manhood. Babushkas are like wolves: traveling in packs seeking out the weakest of a herd to prey on their misunderstandings and feast on their timidness.

High-five Olga

High-five Olga

* * * * *

Despite having just sat down, overwhelmed by my lack of sleep from teaching until 9:30 every night and waking up in the early-morning to teach more, I stood up for her to sit down on my perspired outline that sizzled and popped in the sun. I did not want to stand up, but it was determined for me when she stepped on the metro seeking out the nerveless person to parade her theatrics in front of. While I sit she yells at me about my lack of respect for elders and my laziness and how I am bringing shame upon my entire gender (not knowing that I am an American and seldom understand her insulting squawks); when I stand she praises and thanks me saying that chivalry and respect still triumph in this backwards world. I suppose that I can stand a little longer and cling to the rails for support. My transfer station is only a few minutes away.

As we pull into Arsenalna, the lights flicker on and off to alert people’s attention. An announcement plays overhead about which station we will be arriving to. Even the monitors in the car display the location name and a small picture of the cannon that is situated near the street entrance to the station. Square dancing around each other, people jostle on and off of the tightly compressed train ushering in more fragrances, more moisture, and more attitude. Overhead there plays another announcement about our soon departure from the Arsenalna station, warning passengers to stand clear of the doors. Without warning, awakening from her hibernation, this bully Babushka, who bounced me from my seat, realizes that we will soon vamoose from her station. She nimbly springs to her feet, grabbing both bags as she starts hastily pumping her legs in cartoon-fashion in mid-air before landing on the ground to start bulldozing through the crowd. She shall not be denied. Thirty people are still flooding into the car as she rams her shoulder unexpectedly into the small of my back and hurls me forward against the current. Suddenly, I am transformed into her human shield slamming against each person between the Babushka and the door, my face slapping against the exposed chests of perspiring, hairy men until I am launched into the refreshingly cool marble walls of Kiev’s deepest metro station. The unrequited prices we pay for our generosity.

Brushing away the birds flying around my head, I leap to my feet scrambling to the metro car. The doors close. The train pulls away. Here I stand at the wrong station, as that crotchety wild boar bumbles to the escalator, wiping everyone’s sweat from my face and wringing out my clothes.

* * * * *

This post was written by B2Y reader Brent Jordan Yocum. If you have a story, an opinion or an article to share please write to me: ian@bluetoyellow.com

What should Liberal Democrats do now? and what has changed in Ukraine?

Change their name!

Well, I’m not sure it would achieve a great deal but it was one on the more playful suggestions Prof Timothy Garton Ash made during a presentation this evening in Oxford.

As a liberal who has an almost unhealthy obsession with European affairs, I was keen to hear what GA (a Professor of European Studies here in Oxford) had to say about my favorite subject. I’m glad I did for two reasons.

Firstly, having spent most of 2010 bemoaning the absence of a cohesive EU policy in Ukraine, and having concluded that the mass duplication of national and EU embassy resources Ukraine is, in part, the root of this problem – I was able to ask what he (and lets face it he’s a lot smarter than me) thought. Depressingly, GA turned my whole argument on its head and instead pointed-out the benefit of having 27 national + one EU embassies, all pushing for similar change  …the result is greater than the sum of its parts etc etc.
I’m still not sure I agree but I can see his point and it means I’ve got some thinking to do. At least in the case of visa policy (my area of limited expertise) I need to give some greater consideration to the possibilities this duplication offers.  

Secondly, during a very brief conversation after after his speech he asked me how I thought things were going in Ukraine since Fedsy Yanokovych took the helm in February.  In answering his question I found myself explaining that, whatever the political arguments were on either side and despite the doomsday predictions – not much has changed. I mean, for your average hard working (and hard-up) Ukrainian – life is not much different. It’s the same shit, just a different day.

However, I realized after I left that this itself is actually the tragedy. Ukraine and Ukrainians need change (a lot of it) and they need a government with the academic, political and moral integrity to pull it off. No positive change in Ukraine would itself be failure.

Anyway, GA did what he does best and got people thinking, I’m not used to that on a Friday night….

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of Ukraine – it’s good to see that, in the case of D Fitrash vs The Kyiv Post, common sense won over our ‘draconian libel laws’. See why here: http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/3339

For GA on Europe, watch here:

…oh, and he suggested the Lib Dems should call themselves (wait for it) …the… “Liberals”!!
I’m not sure about that one Tim. 

Posted from: www.bearder.com

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