A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for March, 2009

I’m back!

It is not an easy thing to travel to and from Dnepropetrovsk. First of all, it is an extremely expensive prospect to fly to Ukraine (on average, some $1500 for one round-trip economy ticket), simply because there are so few airlines and flights to this country. This difficulty is easily overcome, however, since AeroSvit, the Ukrainian national airline, offers a much reduced fare.


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Gone to NY (and Boston)

Hi, you’ve reached Michelle. I’ll be in America until March 23, but if you leave your name and a brief message, I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks, and have a great day.


More cultural differences

“I went to the toy store to buy a gift for Ksyusha,” a friend was telling me the other day. “And I was totally surprised! They have everything there! I’ve never seen so many toys in my life! When I went to Oksana’s house to give the gift to her, I saw all the stuff that Elizavetta [her daughter] has. There’s this… thing, for example, that hangs over her cradle and spins and plays music and everything!”

“Yeah, so?” I snorted.

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Cultural differences

I read an English folk tale, translated into Russian, with Elena Alexandrovna the other day. A poor couple is granted three wishes. They argue all night over what to wish for, and finally agree to sleep on it and decide in the morning. Exhausted, the wife declares that she wishes they had a sausage to eat. Sure enough, the sausage appears on the table. The husband, enraged at his wife’s stupidity, shouts that he wishes that the sausage would stick to her nose. As expected, the sausage attached itself to her face, and no amount of pulling could remove it. Both shamed by their carelessness, they finally concede their third wish and ask for the sausage to detatch from her nose. It does. Although they end up no richer than before the wishes, they learn a valuable lesson.

“You know, we have a Russian version of that tale,” Elena Alexandrovna observed.

“We do, as well,” I agreed, thinking of all our be careful what you wish for stories. “What’s the Russian variant?”

“Davnim davno…” she began.

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East vs West


December advertisement featuring Valeriy Konovalyuk, a member of the Party of Regions, which has strong ties to Russia. The sign reads:

“Issue at stake: NATIONAL IDEA
Valeriy Konovalyuk
Farewell, arms!
Farewell, NATO!
National idea:
A new Ukraine-
Without the right to mistakes”

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The Jew & The Carrot


This is a public service announcement.

Henceforth, all recipes will be posted on The Jew & The Carrot, the epicenter of Jews, food, and sustainability on the web. I am now a contributor for the “Best New Blog” and “Best Kosher Food/Recipe Blog,” as awarded by the Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards in 2007. I’ll be adding a new recipe or food-related post every week, so be sure to check it out!

In fact, I just wrote an introductory post, Stranger in a strange land, and tomorrow at noon you’ll find an entry on February 23 and my famous vinaigrette. Coming soon: borsht, Pelmeni (both the classic and kosher variations), Ukrainian shwarma, and mushrooms a la Drapkina!