I woke up around 4 am today. I did not sleep much last night. It was a year ago this morning that we were sitting in The Nest in a state of shock. The shock is still there, but so is the light. I was in Kyiv last year in September and soon we will be back there. We are counting down the days … Kyiv is a magical place.
As Jake Sullivan touches on in this short news clip “Ukraine is defending freedom everywhere”. I hope the message about the ammo in this news clip is correct. America is Ukraine’s biggest ally and everyone in Ukraine is grateful for their support and friendship.
Ukraine will win this war and Kyiv will become the hotspot of Europe in the near future. I am convinced that so many people will come and explore and they will be amazed.
It is coming up on 1 year since we woke up with the building shaking and the sounds of bomb blasts in Kyiv. We were in shock for a long time and now it just seems like some alternate reality. This evil war sometimes feels like it will never end and then there are days where we are filled with optimism and spirit. We believe Ukraine will win this war and that we will return to our home there, but we have no clue when that might be, and that is an unsettling feeling.
On a selfish and material level I sometimes think of all my stuff in our apartment in Kyiv. I am a collector and a hoarder. And everything I cherish that I have collected over my life is in Kyiv. None of this stuff has any real monetary value, but to me it means a lot. Funny and quirky stuff, a lot of nostalgic wonders, magic tricks, pranks, DVDs, LaserDiscs and VHS tapes, books, cool gadgets, and a lot lot more. I was hoping the Bunster will sit down one day and explore some of these things. I hope he will love the art of magic – he certainly could dive into a cool collection of fascinating illusions and storytelling wonder. I hope we still get that opportunity one day. Interestingly, David Copperfield is of Ukrainian origin.
Yes, I do believe we will return to The Nest in Kyiv. But what happens if WW III breaks out across Europe? What if we cannot return. Do we start again? Is that what a reset is all about? It is a thought we sometimes have. Was there any point to all that sentimental collecting? The war has shaken everyone up inside and outside of Ukraine. And it has challenged what we believe was important. Family and health are fundamental, and making a difference is what we think about everyday. Purpose.
The news online is predicting that as the 24th of this month approaches that the evil Russians are going to attack Ukraine like never before. The West said Ukraine would not survive the first week. They were wrong. And then it was said that Ukraine would not survive the winter as the evil Russians pound the electrical infrastructure. And Ukraine is still standing strong. February 24th will be behind us soon and I am confident Ukraine will still be there. And comes May, we will be there too. I can’t wait.
“I love the fact that Ukraine getting weapons that repel, localize, and derail hostile offensive actions in its territory is always an ESCALATION!!!!, and at the same time Russia’s overt campaign to bomb Ukraine into the stone age in the middle of winter is totally fine” – Illia Ponomarenko
This word “limbo” is a cool sounding word. I mean, it just rolls off the tongue and it has a fun feel about it. But it is not a nice place to be in.
This is the definition I found on Google : an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.
We have been in limbo for almost a year now. All we want to do is return to our home in Kyiv. We believe we will later this year. Ukraine will win this war and the vast majority of people who left will return home. I am confident that this is the case. Things do sound and look intense when you watch the news on TV, but when I chat with friends in Kyiv they are spirited and determined. Life is different and there is a lot of anxiety, but life goes on.
I communicate with friends and colleagues in and outside of Ukraine on a daily basis. Every week we share thoughts and stories with people in Kyiv and with those folk who moved abroad. One interesting observation is that the people I chat with in Kyiv always seem to sound a lot calmer than those who left Ukraine. I am still trying to understand why this is. I have not been to the movies in a long time, and yet in Kyiv, I have friends going to the cinema. Sometimes they have to leave the movie in the middle to get to a bomb shelter, but when the air raid siren is over, they head back to the cinema.
We are leaving SA end of April and heading to Wroclaw in Poland. There is a big Ukrainian community there and from Wroclaw we can go to Kyiv on the train. It is a long journey on the train and not something one wants to do too often. I did it last year from Krakow and it is intense, but it works well and has become the new norm for getting in and out of magical Kyiv. We will be renting a flat in Wroclaw and waiting there until we can return properly to Kyiv. Our main priority is the Bunster. We don’t want to have the little man exposed to air raid sirens and bomb shelters, so the limbo will take on a new chapter, but we have to try and be responsible here.
Wroclaw is the prettiest city in Poland and if you check out the travel videos on YouTube it looks fantastic. At least we will have a change and there will be some new adventure as we settle in. We believe we will be back at home in Kyiv by the autumn. And if this war does not end this year, then we will have to think what to do, and where to go. Not easy on the soul this, but at least we are all ok. We should not complain. There are men and women fighting everyday, risking their lives, so that people can live peacefully again in Kyiv, and all around Ukraine. God bless these brave souls.
There are two parts to a person’s existence, physical and spiritual. Yes, it is wonderful to sleep in a clean and comfortable bed, but there is more to life than sleeping. To simply go through the motions is not to live. Not to say that all days are good. Most of my days are a struggle – the work I do is not easy on the soul and sometimes you feel like you are stupid and wasting time. But when things do fall into place it can be a magical experience.
To live life is to struggle and grow, to learn and laugh, to ache and love, and to build. Not everyone follows their dreams or is driven by a sense of purpose. And that’s ok. I have often said that purpose is both a privilege and a curse. But one thing is for sure, most people fall in love, have heart ache, and fall in love again. Most people have passion. Most people feel, and that is what it means to be alive. To feel excitement, to experience wonder, to be inspired, to embrace motivation. To not welcome any of this is to be a zombie.
Talking to my friends in Ukraine I am inspired by their passion for life. It has captured the world’s imagination. Yes, things are not easy in Kyiv, where I consider to be home. All over Ukraine there are air raid sirens, and infrastructure challenges, and it is winter now, and being in a bomb shelter every other day is not easy. But life goes on. People are going to cinemas, eating burgers, dancing, shopping, riding bicycles, giving birth, getting married … in cities across the land.
Avatar is all the rave everywhere on the planet and movie lovers are breaking box office records. And Ukraine is no exception. There is a war, and infrastructure challenges due to the evil Russians bombing the electricity grid, and there are cinemas that have been destroyed, and it is winter, and curfew, and yet, people are lining up to see this blockbuster. Ukrainians may be under attack but their spirit is alive and kicking.
This makes me think back to the Dead Poets Society and that unforgettable scene :
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
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.
Just over a month ago the Daily Maverick published a story I wrote about Kyiv. That text came straight from the heart. I received a lot of feedback from the article and it was quite touching. That text was also read by Operator Starsky in Ukraine and he shared the link with his YouTube community. Even more people read it after that and I now have a new online connection. Starsky is a hero and a very cool dude.
There were so many heart-warming comments posted on Starsky’s YouTube channel – I have cut and paste a handful of them here below:
Ukraine is going to be the place to be. You’ll see. Next year, full of tourists.
Kyiv will be even better once the war is over and the damage is rebuilt. I feel privileged to have visited it last year and I’ll visit it again in the future.
Beautiful article. It takes a long time to shake away the shackles of corruption but they are doing it right.
I lived in Kiev for 2 years, 2016-17, and loved it. For 6 months in that time, I was fortunate enough to live on Kreschatyk, my balcony being a spot to watch the busy street life of this beautiful city. My building was next to Maidan. Other side is the Kyiv Passage where they did Karaoke on Kreschatyk. Lived in some other apartments near Bessarabska Rynok on Darvina. Had my office on Bratska in Podil area. Would go out of my way walking there so I could enjoy my favorite street, Andrew’s Descent, a beautiful steep, winding collection of wonderful. The people were very friendly to me. English was commonplace. Food is amazing.
Kyiv was a city state when Moscow was a village.
Debora Patta from CBS interviewed Starksy at the start of the war. This is a must see.
I loved this. I watched it twice, and I will watch it again soon. It is not easy to cover all the facets of this war in 45 minutes so I thought what was shared in this special program was just excellent, and soulful. Humanity, society, humour, unity, love, the city of Kyiv, culture, language … it was highly insightful. I know we will be back soon in magical Kyiv. By the spring.
Imagine you are told there is a man in your road going around from house to house with a gun. You have even met some of the victims and you have heard horrible stories of this beast. But no one stops this evil. And every other week a siren goes off warning the people in the neighbourhood that this bad man is on the prowl again that day. You hide, hoping that this evil doesn’t find you.
When missiles and bombs first fell on Ukraine at the start of this nightmare war you could say that a lot of people did not believe it was happening. I was one of them. I will never forget that early winter morning, being woken up with a shaking building and the sounds of bomb blasts and air raid sirens. And 9 months on, missiles are still being fired into Ukraine and now there are apps and social media saying things like “The missiles are expected to hit Kyiv in 30 minutes.” Just think about how insane this is. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows it is happening. Everyone is seeing this evil unfold, and yet, it just doesn’t stop. Week after week. What kind of a world are we living in.
As my friend Craig said the other day, “They just give you enough weapons to stop the guy from doing too much damage but not stopping the guy.” America and the UK gave Ukraine assurances a long time ago (yesterday it marked 28 years). Give Ukraine the weapons they need to win this war soon. If Ukraine was kitted out to the max they would finish this war and would be doing the world a big service.