Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts on Ukraine and Ukrainianness

First: It is not some backward primitive place. I was ready for it to be, based on Long Way Round, in which Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley notice that all the roads go to pieces and people are driving horses and buggies as soon as they cross the border into Ukraine. (they are later hosted by a vodka-swilling AK-47-owning maybe-mafia guy.) I'd say if Germany is 100% "modern"/just-like-home, Poland and Slovakia are like 90% and Ukraine is 80%. There are just a few weird difficult things in Ukraine, like buying train tickets and managing with Cyrillic. (this makes it also more interesting.)

Second: It's not very culturally different from Poland. I guess eastern Ukraine is. Western Ukraine (for reasonable historical reasons) is not.

Third: so I'm a bit Ukrainian. Okay. Given that it's 80% just like home, I'm not sure if I learned anything. I mean, the guy I stayed with in Lviv was (entirely coincidentally) an almost-coworker at Google. I've seen some old-style houses in Ukraine and in Poland at cultural museums. All this ancestor-following kind of confirms what I imagined: in Poland/Ukraine it's dark and rainy and you make fences out of bent slices of wood because nails are too expensive; in Italy it's beautiful and you hang out on piazzas and drink wine. (guess stereotypes exist for a reason?)

Fourth: well of course people who lived 100 years ago don't have much bearing on my life now. It's just cocktail-party interesting, like Myers Briggs tests or astrology.

1 comment:

  1. ha. My goal in life has always been to be cocktail party literate....a modest goal, to be sure....