Friday, December 19, 2008

Notes From an Underground (a recording)

In Ukraine, all of the smaller, corner stores work much like markets did in the United States fifty or one-hundred years ago. You'll go in and see that all of the goods are on shelves or in cold cases only employees can reach or access. Consequently, if you want some cheese, you'll have to go up to the dairy counter and speak with a blue-aproned продавщица (prodavschitsa/saleswoman) who will call out, Я слушаю! (ya slushayu!/I'm listening!) and take your order. If you want some meat, or some dry goods, you'll have to repeat the process, seeing two more Blue Aprons.

There is certainly a benefit to this system: a drastic reduction in theft. But the problem is, if you don't speak Russian, or if you speak a little Russian but are too shy to test it in public, you will likely starve, especially if you haven't yet discovered one of the western-style supermarkets, of which there were several in Kharkov.

Anyway, all of this is a long introduction to the fact that I wrote an essay about my experiences trying to scrape together a few good meals in Ukraine during my first couple of weeks in-country back in the fall of 2005. A while back I pointed you to the journal that published it, NOÖ Journal, which subsequently nominated the essay for inclusion in the Best of the Web 2009 anthology.

Now I'm writing to say you can find an audio recording of the essay below. Fourteen minutes long, it should prepare any traveler for a trip to the Former Soviet Union. Tell me what you think. And Приятного аппетита!

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