Good-bye, Kiev!


(Kiev, Ukraine (2014), a photo by Huseyin Aysan)

Every city has its flavor, but I am so used to Kiev that I can come up with only a short list of characteristic traits, which would distinguish it from another city.

Kiev is cold. It is cold even in the hottest time of year and it is not about the air temperature. There is aloofness in its large buildings that stand apart from one another, like strangers on a bus stop. There is vanity in pilasters of its classic houses and in brightly lit shop-windows. There is indifference in its wide avenues and massive bridges. There is coldness in the absence of light. Six months a year the sky is grim in Kiev, leaving a sour mark on faces of its inhabitants; then, a tiniest ray of sun is a piece of paradise. When the sun comes out, hordes of people spill out onto the streets and scatter around parks, forests, and nearby villages, always finding activities to busy themselves with. When a sunny day is out of the nature’s schedule, they still manage to make the best out of that coldness, creating warmness in their kitchens and drawing sunshine out of their hearts.


(Kiev, Ukraine (2014), a photo by Huseyin Aysan)

Kiev is private. Even though it is a city of wide squares, people are reluctant to gather together here. People tend to split into small groups and have their fun among people they know very well. When one is in a good mood and relaxed, then a chance acquaintance is a welcome event though, and a new friend is always greeted. However, while making contact with a local, be ready for more than a leisurely chit-chat. In the privacy of Kiev one doesn’t draw pleasure out of a formal small talk. If one speaks to you about the weather, there are no hidden hints for you in it. If one speaks to you for the first time in your life, it could be a talk about everything: men, women, politics, God, family issues, plans for the future and past mistakes. And be ready – next time you see each other, nothing will be forgotten and you will be acknowledged as a person already known. There are no topics that are private enough for discussion here and whether you are a close friend or not, any of your ideas risks a challenge, because that’s how the private is being built.

Kiev is busy. Early morning, you can see people crowding into buses, trams and trains, hurrying along the streets with their eyes cast down, music in their headphones, finishing homework on their knees, or plainly staring into space. During the day there are students going to and from their classes, office workers having their lunch break, mothers taking kids for a walk, and tourists strolling in the city center. In the evening, when the office hours are finished, people rush back from work to where they came from in the morning. Some drop by a bar for a drink, a café for a date, or a cinema for a movie. On week-ends it gets even busier, when throngs of week-enders invade streets, shopping malls, parks, and restaurants. In summer there are people walking, drinking, chatting and playing music under the sky until the night falls and the clock shows midnight. Then, the city stands empty, like a theater set awaiting its actors. A rare cat meows and darts away, farther from lamp light and the sound of your lonely steps.


(Kiev, Ukraine (2014), a photo by Huseyin Aysan)

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