When any of us travel to a new place and go exploring we are very fortunate and privileged. I have a feeling that if you are reading this text then you are one of those lucky folk who have seen different parts of the world. The thing about visiting a city for the first time is the people – they make the difference. New York city is a good example. I know many folk who go to this exciting place and love it, and then I have met people that wonder around there and hate it. If you meet or know one good person and have someone look after you that always makes a big difference.
The people I am friendly with in Kyiv, my close circle, are mostly middle class people that are either entrepreneurs or professional folk or artists. They are not better than anyone else, but that is the group of friends we have, and enjoy, in that magical secret of a city. And I would argue that it is still pretty much a secret to most. As my friend Dave in California, who has been to visit us a couple of times in Kyiv, was saying to me this week on the phone, “Most Americans see Ukraine as something out of a Borat movie.”
The world constantly is seeing footage from this nightmare war in Ukraine but the one thing we don’t see to see on the news are my circle of friends from Kyiv, and like-minded folk from other big cites in Ukraine like Lviv, Odessa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Vinnytsia, etc. Yes, Ukraine is not filled with affluent people and for most life is very hard. More than half the country was surviving on less than $500 a month, and that was before this evil war started. Now things are way harder. But still, Ukraine has a growing middle class, and it has talented film makers, tech unicorns, celebrated musicians, cool restaurateurs, funky retailers, and a whole lot more. We just don’t often see these kinds of people on the TV war coverage. So it makes sense that the world knows little of Ukraine other than what they see on the news from the front lines of the Russian invasion, which doesn’t looks good.
As I have written many times, I laugh a lot in Kyiv. People are very very funny. And they are seriously creative and soulful. This year we believe we will be able to return to our home in Kyiv, to The Nest, and we are excited to see all our friends and family again. Yes, it is always about the people, and Ukraine has wonderful people in abundance. When you do meet hard-working people that struggle to get by they are always so humble and so kind. So much soul. And the more privileged people, they are often a bit less humble, unfortunately, but generally very kind and warm too. To know Ukrainians is to embrace the magic in the world.
Happy new year !!!