Continuing on with my recent Ukrainian observations – Relationships 101, a very brief look at Ukrainian encounters .
5. I had read in Lonely Planet that many people throughout Ukraine are more generous than they can afford to be. There is so much truth to this! The Ukrainian economy is not strong; most live on less than $200 CDN per month. Yet the hospitality and kindness of people I have met continues to amaze me. Slava feeds me all day long, from breakfast til bedtime. Literally. Ira went out of her way to invite Jessica and I on her class trip to the Carpathian Mountains (a three day adventure complete with several 16 year old companions). Katia arranged for her friends – complete strangers to us – to take us out one night when she had to cancel. Our tutors, all of them, bent over backwards to make this entire experience less overwhelming. I appreciated everything.
7. Grandmothers (also known as babas, or babusias) are highly respected in Ukrainian society. They work hard to maintain close familial connections, and their children as well as grandchildren seem to honour this. (Side note: women also outlive men. Women are expected to live well past 70+ years, while the odds of men living past the age of 60 are low – alcoholism is a national concern.)
8. There is always more room on the bus. “Personal space” means getting to know your neighbour far better than you would like to. Think of the bus as a cage packed with animals, pressed up against one another, sweating onto each other, and that is just the way it goes. Shut up and move on back, to make a bit more room for a few more.
25. I look forward to my regular nightly tea dates with Slava. I am grateful for the unique friendship that we have built over endless charades, drawings, and reliance on our trusty Ukrainian-English dictionaries.
50. We all need a little more lovin’. Hugs, smiles, quality time, a listening ear: a few minutes of your time can actually make a serious difference in someone else’s day. Phone calls from home or a picture from one of my girls at the Internat can carry me through til tomorrow. The little things matter; they really, really do.
What kind of encounters have you had with others while travelling?
How have they impacted you (then and now)?