Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Kiev 3

Dad came to Ukraine. We decided that we need to buy the apartment to protect it from Misha. We found out that he took all the money from grandmother's pension without telling us, even though he wrote down every single penny that he spent so we'll return it to him. Thank god grandmother's friend saw him use the card in the ATM, went to the bank and asked them to block it. He then sold all the jewelry, and she wore a lot of expensive jewelry. All he had he said was the jewelry that was returned to him at the hospital. The other, he has no idea where it is.
We offered him a deal of looking after grandma. We'll give him 15% from the sale of the appt and additional 5% for every month, up to half a year, plus everything in the appt he could sell afterwards. That wasn't good enough for him. We overheard him speaking on the phone complaining that we only offered 15%!!!
His daughter came to talk with us, and told us that they will look after grandma if they'll get the whole apartment. Everything's in Ukraine about apartments, people will kill each other over it. Anything can also be made with money and the right people. It would cost maybe $100 to make a fake will, backdate it, and write that the appt will be transferred to them. And I know ... because I made enough fake documents to buy that apartment. Dad kicked Misha out, who at the last day decided to make a yummy soup, so that maybe we'll forgive him, since there is no space to live at his daughters place, they're already 4 people in her 2 bedroom appt with no space left even for his stuff. Needless to say they were arguing a lot, and a few months later I've heard that he's looking for a new place to live.
They discharged grandma from the hospital saying that she's in stable condition, and that they can't do anything more for her. They took the feeding tube out saying that she should learn how to eat by herself again. Good idea, but the problem is, she wasn't eating. Her swallowing instinct got damaged, and she would hold the food in the mouth and would spit it out. She became very thin and weak. We had no idea what to do, so I googled how to insert the tube back in. You need to do an x-ray afterwards to make sure it's in the right place, because the tube can go in the lungs, not in the stomach, and if you'll push water then the person will die. Well I didn't have a luxury of an x-ray, or invite a surgeon for home so I did it by myself. There is a list of signs to check if it's in the lungs or in the stomach. It looked like it was in the stomach. Do I qualify as a nurse now or better yet a surgeon?
Rules differ so much in different banks. I needed to change the pin code for every card. One bank just took a photocopy of my document which said that I'm now in charge of all the activities. Another bank asked for a notarised photocopy. The other bank asked for so many things, it took me a week to get them. One was a proof of address. It took me 2 days. I run through all the city, through different offices. Everybody sent me to a new office, until I finally got to the director of municipal control. While I was waiting outside the door, he was screaming at someone ... well, that's not a good time to ask for favours I thought. But when I got in, smiled and told him that I'm from Canada, that vicious face started smiling, and called every possible person who would help me to get that letter. Then he told me to drop by if I'll have free time ... hm ... I don't think so ...
Now I'm in the process of buying the appt. There is a new rule now since January, which requires the appt to be registered before you can sell it. The process should take 2 weeks, but since it's a new rule and everybody rushes to get it, it might take 3 months without you ever knowing when it will get registered. Government buildings in this country suck! Government offices are usually located on the 1st floor of a residential building, or you walk through back yards, some unknown buildings, no names, no numbers, no signs. You walk into a huge space with offices. No information desk, no where to sit, you ask people - no one knows anything. And like that in every office. What kind of system is that?? At the registration office, there was a woman who was helping, and to ask for her help, you have to yell through a fence while she mostly ignores you. Then I waited in an unknown lineup for half an hour without it moving an inch. I gave up and went to do some photocopies. In there I asked the guys if they know a way to register the appt quicker, they secretly gave me a business card with no name, only a number and said that it could be done in a week. I called, and the person said to bring him $200, and all the original documents. Well that sounds scary. In my head, all I could think of is giving him the documents and never seeing them again.
My Canadian friend who was born in Kiev gave me a phone number of his father's bodyguard, and so I was with this big man with tattoos on his fingers driving around Kiev for a week bribing people.
All this bribing business is a little bit fun. It seems that I do everything I'm not supposed to do. I give money without envelopes, which I still don't understand why. It's not like I'm putting a birthday card in there. I yell out names, when I should answer the phone quietly, state someone else's name and follow that person after a certain time period. I agree too quickly for a price which could make that person scared. Too much to learn in such a short period of time. Now though looking at official documents, raises doubt in me. Apparently it's not that difficult to make anything up. You just have to know the right person and give the right price.
Documents are made, some are restored and finally I'm able to buy the appt. The only problem is, my grandma can't understand anything or even hold a pen, so I have a paper that gives me permission to sell the appt. I can't legally give the permission to sell it to myself, so I had to give the permission to someone else (my bodyguard), who would then sell it to me. Sounds good, but oh how many problems I had about it later.
We agreed with the neighbour that she'll buy the appt. I was already ready to leave Ukraine in just a few days. I called my neighbour a day we were supposed to go to a lawyer to get all the paperwork done, when she said that they thought about it and decided against it, because evidently there was some confusion about the price. Dad said one thing, I said another thing, although dad said things hypothetically without checking the prices on real estate site, and they got scared. They told me that there are too many crooks in Ukraine, and they have to be careful.
I was in shock, I had no idea what to do. Finally when everything was supposed to get sorted out, it crashed at the last moment. We decided to put grandma in an elderly care. But I called all the elderly homes, and nobody would accept a person in such a condition. Finally I found one home, but I went to their office, and they gave me a huge form that I need to fill out with at least 10 doctors signatures about her mental health, and dental work and chest x-ray, an eye doctor. I couldn't believe it! She doesn't even have any teeth!! And how am I supposed to pick her up and make her stand to do an x-ray? I tried to go to the mental health hospital. They just needed to give me a paper that her name is not mentioned in their records. But they said no, that they'll need to send a doctor to the house to check her health, and anyway, now holidays start and they couldn't send anyone for the next 2 weeks! I called other doctors, and they told me the same thing. "Girl, what do you think of calling in the evening on this day? Don't you know there are holidays that are starting tomorrow? Call again in 2 weeks! ... beep".
Nothing is ever getting done. I have a list of things that I have to do that day, and I'm lucky if 1 is done. Everybody has random lunch breaks, then it's the wrong office, then some document is missing, then it's someone's day off. It's very annoying!
I needed time to run around the city to get the documents prepared, and so I hired a live-in sitter. The sitter almost quit at the first day, indeed it's a scary sight to look at someone who's almost dying. She then didn't blend the food properly and because the food couldn't easy get sucked into the food injector, the can of food always ended up falling on the floor, making a mess of the entire room. But she made it through the first few days, and started kicking me out of the apartment. Indeed I could barely move, talk or breath. Every time I got off the chair I thought I would fall down. She told me to go for walks to get refreshed. After some moanings from my side, I started walking to a nearby market or a park and sight-see around the city again.
One day I went for a free tour. Kiev is a very green city, with 60% of the city still covered in trees, it's so romantic that apparently even the street signs fall in love (according to a statue).
We then saw a fountain, and if you stick the coin to some metal part and the coin sticks, it means your wish will come true. I didn't want to wish for something serious, because what will happen if the coin will not stick, so I just wished for no traffic for the next day :) Kiev traffic is crazy, it's there all the time, any time of day ... don't people work there? The wish did come true in deed! No traffic the next day! It's magic :)
This might be interesting for Russian people. In Russian there is a phrase "Chto upalo, to propalo" or in English "what's fallen is lost". Apparently it came from Kiev. Some time ago there was one road leading to Kiev. There was a tax for the horse and carriage, and the carriage owners started loading it to the maximum ... so much have they loaded it that often times stuff fallen from there, or the carriage broke completely. The city got smart and imposed a law that said that everything that falls off the carriage will be taken by the city.
There is a neighbourhood in Kiev where somebody wanted to build a tall condo, removing part of the park and blocking the view (I think). So the neighbourhood people got creative and started building statues there, and children's park and other cool stuff, and the condo project got cancelled :) Now it's a favourite hang out place in Kiev for artists and couples.
Next day I went to Lavra. When I got in, I saw that there are tours around and waited for it to start. Waited and waited, no people, no tour. I went into a small alley nearby not to lose sight of the tour meeting place, and what do you know, I see a guy from the free tour of the day before walking with some Ukrainian guy. Of course I joined them for an exploration of Lavra, and Alex invited me to go out that night with his friends. Then next night and next night, he was always calling me, showing me the city, inviting me to parties. Who knew that at that day, all the stars in the universe aligned for me to meet my angle, who saved me from all the horrors of Kiev, who made me smile again.
We went to a very cool bar "Palata #6", it's like a hospital bar. All the stuff are dressed as doctors. They serve shots from test-tubes. Then they have extreme cocktails (which have nothing to do with hospital), but they put a helmet on you, bang you with barrel, glue a napkin on the helmet, set it on fire, then extinguish it ... cool stuff! :)
Then we went to a couch surfing spring camp party. Party party party! I missed most of it cause I couldn't walk, talk, breath, and all I dreamt of was a bed. Went to one party, I got drunk just the right amount. Started dancing on a swing which was tons of fun, made friends with everyone there. I would just came to a person and ask them "Why are you sitting alone? Are you bored? Do you need company?" Next day we went to a football match, the first one in my life! Gosh I was so bored, I think it will be my last one as well. I looked at the pictures in my camera and read a newspaper for most of the match. There was a fan section right beside us, they were screaming, having their songs and mottos. At first it looked like fun, and I even wanted to join them, but then it worried me a bit, seemed like that's the way the Nazis were born. Following some stupid leader, believing in stupid causes.
There are May holidays in Ukraine when nothing works. I need to have a break ASAP, otherwise I'll end up in a mental hospital. I decided to travel around Ukraine for a bit. My first destination is Lviv, and all the hostels are fully booked, now I have to wait 3 more days to go. It seems that I can't wait any longer.
One day I tried going to a botanical garden, but it was windy, too far, and I ended up in a flower show. More people than flowers, and it wasn't worth it at all. Then I went to a war museum, but it would've been better to take a tour, cause it looked very impressive. Everybody is shocked from human skin gloves that that Nazis have. It is a shocking sight, but then I'm thinking, the gloves that we wear are from pig skin, or cow skin ... how is that not disturbing?
Next day went to Chirnigiv. It's a UNESCO declared world heritage center because of how many churches there are on such a small space. At the end, I just saw churches again, and spent 6 hours on buses to see them. No more churches!

pix added to :

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Kiev 2

Random assortment of thoughts ...

- While I was cleaning the table in the hospital - "you'll make such a great housewife" some grandma told me with a smile. Like it's my dream to be a housewife I told her. I need to work and after work, I want to go to movies, theatres, rock climbing, dancing, yoga, see my friends. I don't have time to be a housewife. I was born to conquer mountains, not to wipe off dust.

- Ira is comparing Canada to Ukraine. "Probably in Canada it's clean, not like shit hole in here", then she throws a candy wrapper on the ground. All I can think about is the Michael Jackson song "I'm starting with a man in the mirror"

- All the street crossings in the center of Kiev are underground. Keeps the city in shape! as well as all the mothers with kids and old people ... oh wait, I haven't seen them walking in city centers. Kiev is full of 5 story identical buildings called "Hrushevki" from the president "Hrushev" who was in power in the 70s and built a bunch of them all over the country, cheap buildings that helped solve the housing crisis. They were meant to last for 20 years until a better solution would be proposed, but as we all know, nothing has happened 20 years later, and now they all stand crumbling, making the city ugly with unknown future of hundreds of thousands of residents and without elevators. First I was huffing and puffing going up the 4th floor, now it's a piece of cake :)

- Hard to find atm that accepts foreign cards, even if it's on the plus network. I searched an entire city, tried 20 or more banks (Ukraine has 100s of banks!!! I've never seen it in my life!) and I only found 1 bank that would take my card which is some German bank.

- Along with street signs showing street names, there are expensive hotels/restaurants/shops ... probably sponsoring the street signs :)

- Seems like Ukraine lives on coffee. Does it need it to keep yourself going? To give you energy to last through the day, to last through the long office hours? It seems like you can't walk for a minute in any random location without finding either a coffee shop, or a kiosk that sells coffee or a car with an open trunk and an espresso machine stuck in it. Sometimes 3 on one intersection. I met a girl from couch surfing, we only met up for an hour in a coffee place. She said that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday she works from 8:30am to 9:30pm. Tuesday and Thursday she has more time. When she met me at 6 it was her break from work. On the weekend it's a holiday, and she's gonna check if she can take time off of work.

- Went into a church, so weird to look at people crossing themselves 5 times and bowing, do they really think god wants them to do it? At least I warmed up in there. Churches can be useful after all :)

Bus - people get into any open door on the bus and pass the money to the driver through all the people on that bus, and then get a ticket with change, and like that on every stop with every passenger.

Hospital - no order, every day new rules. Have to bring your own food, pills for the patients, bandages, etc. Nobody wants to help. I called a surgeon to help put the feeding tube back in which my grandma took out while she was sitting on a chair, I asked him if he can help me put her on the bed. "It's not my job! For what am I a surgeon?" he said - "for what are you a human?" I asked him. Elevator doesn't work, only for critically ill you have to knock hard on the door and yell the floor number.
Overall I'm in a hospital for 8 hours a day. Feeding, cleaning, massaging, giving pills, entertaining, calling different doctors for help. If I go to the hospital in the evening, I try to go out somewhere to the city center to relax, to forget to somehow reduce my stress. Since I came to Ukraine I don't have any appetite, and in 2 weeks I already lost 5 kgs.
It got much better with Andrew, a son of a woman in the same room as my grandma. We can talk for hours, or rather he can talk. Today he told me about the bible, Lucifer, London rats, Brazil's jungles, different poets, writers, how Hitler sold his soul to the devil, it was like going to university for general knowledge course :)
Andrew told me, as I am sitting in a hospital anyway, might as well do some checkups. I went to the doctor and asked to be checked. She asked me what bothers me most, I guess that I can't breath properly when I hike up the mountains or when I run up the stairs. I did an x-ray, they told me in the lab that I have pneumonia (vospolenie legkih), zdraste! The doctor looked at the film and said that I have chronic bronchitis. I don't really believe in it, cause I'm feeling fine. She told me to do 3D computer scanning. Andrew asked me if I'm nervous, of course I'm not! There aren't any conclusions yet, why be nervous. I did the scanning, everything's fine, the doctor told me to check my heart. There you go. That's the reason I don't go to doctors. Especially when there isn't anything typically wrong. One says one thing, another says another thing. what if I'd listen, I'd go through a bunch of antibiotics trying to heal what exactly? How many patients are getting wrongly treated? I think that a healthy life style, eating good, healthy, organic food, using organic cosmetics and body care, doing sports and living a stress free happy life, that what's good for my health, not x-rays and chemicals that make my organs act the way they shouldn't by nature. How many people are climbing mountains especially above 4000 meters? I guess not that many, most are not even doing regular climbs or hikes. Or even to walk up the 4th floor, everybody's using elevators or are just walking to the store or to the nearest bus station. I'm sure that if all the people went climbing mountains, the hospitals would explode with all kinds of "sick" people.

- Every nurse/doctor I talked to about bed sores said different method of healing them. Sometimes, "it's the best method", other times "it's the worst method". X-ray shows chronic bronchitis; when I wanted to remove a moll in Canada, my doctor said that it can't be removed, a year later he said that of course it can be removed. It's a scary thought to think that doctors have no idea what they're talking about. Especially that pharmaceutical companies pay them to sell certain drugs. In a placebo effect movie that I saw, it says that patients can feel better just by seeing a doctor and "knowing" that they will help, and so they heal based on their faith, and not from drugs.

- Saw the movie "earthlings" about hidden cameras in the animal farms. For sure some people will become vegetarians after watching it (freely available on youtube!). Now I have a lot to think about. I could never order a live fish; I am always disgusted by animal cruelty... but what's happening to the animals that end up in my fridge? If people are unaware of what's going on, it doesn't change the fact that it's happening every day, it doesn't change the fact that you're supporting it!

- In March it was already spring in Ukraine. All the snow melted, and I was waiting for the leaves to come out to hide hideous Soviet buildings. Out of nowhere a huge snow storm hit Kiev, the storm didn't stop for 2 days. All the transport/schools/businesses shut down, and it's in a country that's well used to snow! People were skiing on the streets, cars were buried in the snow till the roof, and overall it was awesome! No people outside, it white, it's quite. They're probably sitting in their apartments, biting their nails and complaining about the weather, while I'm happily jumping from one snow pile to the next :)

- Just as suddenly as the snow storm hit Kiev, Misha's screams hit me. I am sleeping when at 7 in the morning the door is flying open and he's screaming why am I not up yet as I need to be in the hospital. "What? Who? Where?" I'm explaining to him that I'll get there by 10. Grandma is sleeping everyday till 10 anyway, there is no point going there early sitting 2 hours and doing nothing. "Why go at 10, you can get there at 3!!!!" and the door flew closed. It came so suddenly that I had no time to properly react. Who is he to yell at me? Who gave him that right? Then on his computer, I logged into my skype account, I didn't expect what came next. He didn't know that anyone who has skype can login, he doesn't know anything about computers and thought that skype was all his own. He looked at the contact list. "Why is it all in some gibberish? Where are my Italian people, where is Igor where is Lyosha?? he's yelling. I tried to explain to him that it's my account in the most plane language that I could. "Who are all these Asian people??? Bring me back my Italians!!!" I told him that all he needs to do is enter his password. Of course he doesn't know what a password it, let alone what it is. Oh man. No amount of my computer skills could calm him down and tell him that all his info is safe and could be resolved in minutes. I called Ira to reset his password, when she did and was about to tell it to me on the phone, he grabbed the receiver with force and hung up the phone with a loud bang... what a lunatic, I was about to boil over and explode. At least one of us has their nerves in check.
His mouth is bigger than any woman I know. I've only been to Ukraine for a few days, already the whole neighbourhood knows that I sit like an Indian on the chair; that I put my legs up on the couch; that I left a dirty mop in the shower and didn't clean it; that I left unfinished apple on the table; that I arrived in the middle of the winter only in sports pants and a rain jacket, on and on and on! And to think that my grandma told dad how Misha is much better than her late husband.