Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Some pictures of Newcastle upon Tyne in the rain

November 5, 2016

ncl1.jpg

That’s a street running towards Bigg Market…

img_19411

The River Tyne…

img_19471

Now that’s not a bad photo

At a conference on the Warta and a stay in Warsaw

July 27, 2016
IMG_1856[1]

River, idle chimneys, and the cradle of the Polish state

Saturday 02 July 

I manage to use the ticket machines to get from Warsaw Airport to the Central Station and then to Poznan.  Since I am sitting by the door of the compartment, people ask me questions.  I shrug.

I plod through Poznan more-or-less in the right direction and manage to find the Ibis.  I have to pay upfront, otherwise it is OK.

Ruth texts me to suggest a meeting.  I go out to have some soup and dumplings.  Then I find her fashionable expensive hotel in the rain.  I toy with a beefburger.  She pays.  She appears daunted by the way people have not done what they said they were going to do.

Sunday 03 July

IMG_1854[1]

Welcome barbecue

I go to the station and buy a ticket to Warsaw.  It costs about 180 zl, as opposed to 80 zl to get here.  I can see what they mean.  I wander through the Old Town and think that the main square looks fake, as Ruth suggested.

I go over the bridge to the University of Technology.  I need to go to the opening ceremony to justify the welcome barbecue, I think.  The choral singing is good.  I secure some food at the barbecue and wave at Ruth passing by.

Monday 04 July

IMG_1863[1]

Opera House in Poznan

In the first session, some guy mumbles on about the Rio Olympics.  I ask him about counterfactuals. Then one Robyn Moore presents a toolkit for getting value from volunteers in NZ.  This is jolly interesting.  Then some guy mumbles on about ethics.  I say that I have a Code, I do not need them.

The next session I go to is about MCDA.  People are turned away at the door.  We look at a picture of a cow that failed to jump over a fence.  I send an email to Robyn Moore.

Then it’s something about education in a very large lecture theatre with very few people.  A guy goes through a routine presentation about…something…in an incomprehensible Italian accent.  Then an old Russian woman reads verbatim some elementary points about education.  There are reinforced by some incomprehensible parallels from the theory of dynamical systems.  Then the session chair (a young woman from Ukraine) has a few touristic slides about Ukraine and two background slides about her summer school before giving up.  Then a survey of the performance of graduates of a university in the Philippines that would have failed as a GCSE Business Studies project.  The most important thing was personal appearance…

Then I get to grips with my polycarbonate lunch.  It is slightly better than I expected, and I can eat almost half of it.

After that, a very interesting session on Defence & Security, with an outstanding paper on what one can say about the (semi-) rationality of terrorist organisations.  David Lane comes and sits next to me and then goes away again.  There are also good papers on terror queues (aka resource allocation of secret agents), evacuation and police positioning.

Then a mildly interesting walking tour.  Many buildings had been built by the Germans.  So they looked German.  I had noticed that.  Also the people are very orderly and disciplined as well.

Tuesday 05 July

IMG_1869[1]

Animated crowds converge on conference dinner

I go to a techy session and the thing on text analysis for plagiarism is quite interesting.  Then a thing on charitable orders comes down to putting some prices = 0.  This makes it more difficult that the general problem.  WTF.

A thing on implementation in plenary recommends greedy algorithms, since you are too confident in your view of the future.  Like the cow jumping the gate.

I spend some time sitting in a room with Ana Isabel Barros in case someone wants to be mentored.  They don’t, so she talks with her mates in Dutch.

There is no coffee.

A session on decision support.  A Serb is cross-examined about skiing injuries.  The session chair shows a picture of her car crash, which explains why there is not a lot in her paper.  A guy gives an incomprehensible presentation on sepsis, followed by a DNA.

I manage to find my way to the conference dinner and even sit next to Sally Brailsford, who seems happy to see a familiar face.  Then Brian Dangerfield joins us and we do not get drunk this time.  The duck is nice.  We find our way to the Ibis on the tram.

Wednesday 06 July

IMG_1870[1]

Polish retro-kitsch, with a touch of Cezanne

I wake at 0400 from a dream where I am taken captive by Islamic terrorists.  I do some packing.

In our session, David Lane talks about norovirus and we have an interesting discussion about eliciting transmission parameters–I even defend him.  I do my talk and have a little difficulty with the controls.  Then a Turk seems to have provided volunteer support by a direct method, which is interesting.

Complex societal problems starts with a paper on food rescue, but it’s really routeing.

Then I attend respectfully as Ruth presents our workshop.  We start with three people and end with ten or so, she does an excellent job.

I sit through various speeches, then I plod to the station.  The other two guys in the compartment keep silent.  In Warsaw, I manage to find the Chopin Boutique B&B through rain, wind and darkness.  The Polish retro-kitsch room appeals to me.

Thursday 07 July

IMG_1872[1]

Warsaw Old Town, for those who like that kind of thing

I walk up Nowy Swiat and skirt the fuzz guarding the NATO summit.  The Old Town does not appeal to me.  On my way back I check out ulica Bronislawa Moniuszki, thinking that the -i looks like a feminine ending.  A camera crew wants my opinion on something in Polish, and I have to disappoint them.

I have lunch at Dawne Smaki, which turns out to be very sensible in spite of being recommended in my guidebook.

In the evening I turn on the TV.  I watch Germany lose 2-0 to France and feel no pleasure.

Friday 08 July

IMG_1892[1]

The other tourist attraction in Warsaw

I wake up and go to breakfast.  A bloke identifies himself as our host.  Neither of us is happy about Brexit. He says that Czech is very like Polish, but the countries are different.

I go outside.  It is peaceful.  I come back and try checking in online.  Bastard Airways want to charge me for hold baggage,

I go outside with the idea of visiting museums.  But I decide it is too much like effort and come  back instead and put some stuff on Twitter.

Saturday 09 July

IMG_1889[1]

Numerous attempts to use the self check-in machine fail.  I stand in a long line of people wanting to fly to our right little, tight little, shite little island.  It does not move.  After a long time, a young woman takes me to the machine again so that I can fail under supervision.

Now that I have failed under supervision I can join the other line.  The clerk says I can put my bag in the hold without charged since the flight is full.  Thank you, Shittish Airways.

But the flight is fine.

When I get home I see that the back garden is overgrown.

Two weeks in Ukraine

July 13, 2016
Monument to Great Famine, Kiev

Monument to Great Famine, Kiev

Sunday 19 June  

I get to Gatwick in spite of cancelled trains.  Then Ukraine International Airways take a long time to find the plane.  I am met at Kiev.  It is hot.  I have a headache.  I get lamb stew and mashed potatoes at a restaurant that apologises for being on a trial basis.  It costs 300 UAH.  I manage to eat the mashed potato.

Monday 20 June

I join Kiran and Nalini, the other 2/3 of our party, together with boss Igor, guide Natasha and driver Vlad.  We see some churches, and have lunch in a place where I do not lose my wallet.  In the afternoon, we visit Pyrohovo–a kind of open-air museum of peasant huts.  Vlad gets a permit to drive round.  I have a burger in a place called The Burger.

Hut in Pyrohovo

Hut in Pyrohovo

Tuesday 21 June

We go to the Lavra.  It is hot.  A different guide takes me and Kiran down some caves with holy dead bodies.  Then we escape an exhibition of micro-miniatures and get Scythian gold instead.  I give Natasha some money in an envelope.  Kiran gives her some money not in an envelope.

A long day awaits without hotel room, toilet, air-conditioning.  I go to Petrovsky Market and it is far too hot.  Then I have some expensive lager in an underground ‘pub’ off Khreshchatik.  I eat in a decent place called Prepuce.

Vlad appears.  We drive to the station.  We wait.  We get on.  It is hot and humid.  My cell-mate contrives a through draught by wedging the door open with a shoe.  Sleep.

Lunch at Puzata Khata

Lunch at Puzata Khata

Wednesday 22 June

Lviv station

Lviv station

We arrive in Lviv.  Welcome signs of recent rain.  We drive round some places–main interest is drawing up to the kerb so that Nalini can get in and out.  Kiran and I do a walking tour. At least we get to sit in the Armenian church.  Typhoid and the paraffin lamp were invented in Lviv.

Thursday 23 June

Building in Zhovka

Building in Zhovka

We go to Zhovka, a small town.  It rains, unfortunately not enough to keep us in the minibus.  We proceed to a monastery at Khrekiv, where Brother Dmitri says he had earlier been a violinist in an orchestra.  Irina the guide and I walk to a magic well, leaving Nalini on a bench.

Nalini says that her grandfather sold his land.  We are cheerful on the way back to Lviv.

Friday 24 June

I wake up early and look at the computer.  The referendum is going badly.  It gets worse.

At breakfast a Dutchman tells me how bad Brexit is.

Determined trudge from Kiran and Nalini at Kamenets-Podilsky

Determined trudge from Kiran and Nalini at Kamenets-Podilsky

We drive towards Kamenets-Podilsky.  I brood about having left my two-pin adaptor behind and how I will manage if so.  K-P is like a Ukrainian version of Durham, with tourist facilities but without tourists.  Our guide is keen to get on with things.

We drive to Ivano-Frankivsk, where the Nadiya is quite nice and I do have the adaptor of course.   I can’t work out how to get into the hotel restaurant and go to place called Desyatka.

Ivano-Frankivsk

Ivano-Frankivsk

I speak to the waitress in Russian, she replies in Ukrainian, I agree with everything and it works out fine.  Young people in brightly-coloured clothes are happy to be alive.  I have chicken and rice and beer.

Saturday 25 June

I have some black pudding at breakfast, a change.  We walk round I-F with the guide Marta.  There is a gallery-style thing in the foundations of a fortress.

Child-cooling apparatus, Ivano-Frankivsk

Child-cooling apparatus, Ivano-Frankivsk

We drive towards the Carpathian mountains.  It is all right.  We arrive at the sadyba, which is somebody’s house they are renting out while living in the one opposite.  We go to a museum where the daughter of a man who taught himself 50 musical instruments gives a demonstration to us and a large group of Americans.

Sadyba kitchen

Sadyba kitchen

I spend the evening searching the sadyba for my glasses.

Sunday 26 June

I wake at 0539 to look for my glasses.  They are in the bag with the computer stuff.

We see a picture of Indira Gandhi done by a peasant artist from a newspaper.  We drive somewhere else and get on a chairlift.  They stop the chairlift so that Nalini can get on.  We look at a view.  We come back.  We drive to a souvenir market.

Shadows of the Carpathian Chairlift

Shadows of the Carpathian Chairlift

Marta wakes me up to have my dinner.  It is quite nice.

Monday 27 June

We go to a museum of the film ‘Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors’ by Paradjanov.  It’s on YouTube too.  The woman speaks for a long time.  Then Martha interprets.

Call that a waterfall?

Call that a waterfall?

We go to Yaremche, where we see an exhibition of models of buildings in Carpathia.  Then somewhere else with a souvenir market and what was a waterfall.  Marta tell us about her tour company.

Marta sees us off

Marta sees us off

We get on the train in Ivano-Frankivsk.  The provodnitsa complains when I do not buy anything from her.  I lock the door.  The floor of the toilet is very wet.

Tuesday 28 June

The train reaches Odessa.  We are driven to the Aleksanrovskiy Hotel.  We have a city tour.  It is hot.  We stay in the minibus.

Main street in Odessa

Main street in Odessa

Wednesday 29 June

We get in the car and drive to Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, where there is a castle.  Then we go to a winery with many steps and see some films and an exhibition about the Swiss who worked there.

OK, it's a castle.  With a tower.

OK, it’s a castle. With a tower.

We have lunch.  Kiran gives instructions about his tea and the milk.

We come back to Odessa.

Thursday 30 June

We go to the caves and the partisan museum.  Igor the boss has reappeared and interprets for Ksenia the interpreter, who is not having a good day.

Kiran and Nalini in the partisan's underground schoolroom

Kiran and Nalini in the partisans’ underground schoolroom

I do not go to the Literary Museum.  I worry about buying train tickets in Poland.

Friday 01 July

We drive.  At Sofyivka Park they say they know nothing about us, we have to pay 50 UAH to stand inside the gate, it is not possible that the guide has been paid for in advance.  We retreat to the car and get the driver to phone Igor.

Discussions.  We get our money back and begin to amble round after the guide.  She says that Euripides was the first Greek playwright.

Sofyivka

Sofyivka

In Kiev I find I have left my soap and flannel behind.  I manage to buy something that wil do as a flannel.  Then the security tag sets off alarms in the supermarket. I have a decent meal at the Prepuce.

Saturday 02 July

I get up about 4am.  My passport is missing.

Fuck.

I find it again.

The girl at the airport check-in desk acts like she is pleased to see me.  They finally locate the plane and send us to another gate.

Farewell Ukraine, hello Poland!

 

 

 

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA in SEPTEMBER 2015

January 20, 2015

Karen Hewitt writes:

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre [of St Antony’s College, Oxford] together with the University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

 The visit is open to anyone but we give preference to people in Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection such as attendance at OUDCE summer schools. The programme of the fortnight can vary according to individual interests. As guests of Perm University you will be asked to talk to University students, while your activities can include: visits around the city, and to the Urals countryside; canoeing along the Silva river; professional and specialist contacts with economists, lawyers, local politicians, (and lectures if you are willing and able); visits to art galleries, concerts, ballet; studying the work of the city council and local voluntary groups; taking part in family life with your hosts and their friends. Previous visitors on this scheme have seized all sorts of opportunities to see how Russian society works. Several have returned for a second visit.

 A knowledge of Russian is not necessary since interpreters will be provided, but obviously you will learn more if you know a little Russian. Participants should be physically fit and willing to walk reasonable distances. Many of our hosts do not have cars, and walking, climbing flights of stairs and public transport are normal. And you should be adaptable…

DATES: Saturday 5th September to Sunday 20th September 2015 (Fifteen nights) The journey is by British Airways scheduled flight to Moscow. You will travel from Moscow to Perm by train – about 900 miles and the first day of the Trans-Siberian route. You will have a few hours in Moscow on the return journey.

 COST: £990 This includes air fares, train fares, other travel in Russia, accommodation with a family, breakfast and many other meals, a programme of activities including two visits to the opera or ballet, and two full day tours. It does not include visas, insurance, and some meals. We will arrange your visas and inform you in June of the cost. Currently official visas are £50 plus admin and special delivery postage – in total about £80. Commercial visas are less hassle and about twice as much. All this will be explained.

 NOTE: The group will be limited to seven or eight people, so if you are interested, PLEASE FILL IN THE FORM OVERLEAF AND SEND IT TO PROMPTLY to Karen Hewitt (address overleaf), For specific enquiries, please ring 01865 515635. For more general information there will be a meeting in late June or early July for those going to Perm in which useful details of all kinds will be passed on.

Group Form

Experiences in 2012

Bletchley Park, 7 July

July 14, 2013

One of the scenes in That Is All You Need To Know had a new girl journeying there on a crowded wartime train, and our office outing started rather the same way.  I did see what I took took to be our lot waiting in a group at Euston, but I wanted to get a seat and they also looked worryingly like a party of keen young bikers.

After some faffing about and waiting we had a guided tour of the Bletchley Park site by a MOD bloke who looked worried on being told that most of the party comprised mathematicians.  He hurriedly said that he wasn’t going to go into technicalities.  In the picture below he is talking of the hardships endured by the Wrens who had joined up in the hope of seeing young men or the sea and ended up doing eight-hour shifts of painstaking monotony; well of course it depends on the alternatives they had–not all were debutantes.

IMG_1003

One idea of the trip was to generate pictures for recruitment purposes, and below we see the typical money shot of young people picnicking in the sunshine with some romantic old pile in the background.

IMG_1008

And here we see a model of part of a bombe receiving eager attention–one (in fact the only) complaint about the day was that there was too much WWII stuff and not enough about how codebreaking was actually done.

IMG_1009

In the afternoon, we had another tour, this time of the National Museum of Computing, which started off with the famous Colossus machine, also used for codebreaking of course (and very hot around the back with all those valves).

IMG_1014

Then the group oohed and aahed at the Harwell (Dekatron) Computer or WITCH below; it represented something of a technical regression from the super-secret Colossus but won favour by clicking its relays sympathetically. Our guide was keen to emphasise the educational value of the exhibit–children came to realise that their magic devices in fact relied on someone producing instructions–many, many, many instructions…

And after a nostalgic tour round the home computers of their childhood, our group departed well pleased with its day out. And Murray won Wimbledon on the train back to London too…

The Other Egypt (Andante Travels), 20-30 December

January 1, 2013

**

IMG_0795

Some enjoyable desert between Siwa and Bahariyya

This tour seemed to be about Graeco-Roman Egypt, but in the event we spent a lot of time looking at peripheral memorials of Dynastic Egypt.  Since our Guide Lecturer, the very lovely Caroline Hebron, was an Egyptologist (and very good at what she did), many interesting themes went unexplored. They might have included:

–the importance of Alexandria in the Roman Empire,

–the paradox of the second city of the Empire being non-Roman (and the capital of Egypt being non-Egyptian)

–the place as a locus for the clash of civilizations (Jewish-Greek riots being a constant in Hellenistic Alexandria) as well as cross-cultural transfer (the Septuagint, for example)

–the importance of Alexandria in the development of ancient philosophy, and hence in the formation of Christianity

–Alexander the Great’s practices in regard to Greek and foreign oracles

–how and why Alexander’s empire became ‘orientalised’ but never Egyptianised

–who (and why) are the Copts?

–the place of Alexandria in the history of the Jews

–daily life in Hellenistic Egypt as illustrated by the Oxyrhynchus papyri

–the Oxyrhynchus papyri and others from the Fayoum as shedding light on the Greek of the New Testament.

Because of the unsettled political situation in Egypt, in Alexandria we were lodged in a hotel at the edge of town in its own compound, so never really got to see modern Egypt.  The result of this was that we were very much in a lovingly-tended bubble and I got rather bored–in fact, small-boy-taken-on-incomprehensible-adult-jaunt bored.  I also spent a lot of time admiring the prints left by different footwear in the sand.  And I developed a mild but quite persistent case of traveller’s diarrhoea as soon as I got back, which must have originated some time around the middle of the trip.

The guests were largely women of a certain age–we had something like 7 men as against 15 women, and only one (younger) couple.  It took me a long time to realise that the average participant was free at Christmas not by choice, but because she was widowed or divorced, and so a certain amount of overpressing on the cheery sociability front was entirely normal.

My highlights were:

–a night ride from Cairo to Alexandria and seeing a real Egypt of crashed cars, wrecked roads and businesses open at 2 am;

–visiting a Coptic monastery and seeing (for a change) cheerful people and women dressed like human beings;

–very blocky apartment blocks in Alexandria and Cairo that were what a city ought to look like in my opinion

–the very diplomatic way Louise asked Caroline how she managed her personal life with half her time spent in London and the other half in the Middle East, with the ensuing beautifully-managed discussion.

There is an official blog (describing a tour in November) here.  And now for some more pictures with brief descriptions.

IMG_0663

Serapeum with “Pompey’s Pillar”

IMG_0680

The Corniche in Alexandria

IMG_0695

Tour Manager escorting guest

St Menas Monastery made a nice change with cheerful people (not just those tourists) and women dressed like human beings

St Menas Monastery made a nice change with cheerful people (not just those tourists) and women dressed like human beings

The heating system at the Shali Lodge Hotel in Siwa was not so sophisticated, and I managed to be both freezing cold and mosquito-bitten

Riotous underground drinking party

Riotous underground drinking party at the Shali Lodge Hotel in Siwa

IMG_0748

Intense professional discussion

IMG_0752

Temple of Ammon, Siwa–where Alexander the Great may have been declared son of Zeus

Hackneyed shot with poor composition

Hackneyed shot with poor composition

The convoy rests

The convoy rests

Tracks in the desert

Tracks in the desert

Lunch in the desert

Lunch in the desert

Photostop

Photostop

Temple of Sobek, Qasr Qarun

Temple of Sobek, Qasr Qarun

Prototype and partly-collapsed pyramid of Snerefu, c2600 BC

Prototype and partly-collapsed pyramid of Snerefu at Meidum, about 2600 BC

Guide and drivers

Guide and drivers

Permian Diary: 8-23 September

October 31, 2012

The announcement started off

VISIT TO PERM, RUSSIA in SEPTEMBER 2012

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre together with [Oxford] University’s Department for Continuing Education is arranging for a group of eight people to visit Perm as guests of the Perm State University. They will live in families with at least one English speaker and will have many opportunities to observe real Russian life. The visit is part of an exchange scheme in which the payment made by you supports the visit of a Perm teacher to Oxford.

and after a preparatory early-morning briefing meeting in Oxford some weeks beforehand, this is what happened:

Saturday 8 September

Boring photograph of train window

Get up at five am.  Taxi to Heathrow.  Accustomed queue at passport control in Moscow, it seems they now print the migration card out automatically.  Igor, a student from Perm, meets us and asks do we want to get a taxi or the Metro from Paveletsky station to Yaroslavsky.  Unbelievable indecision.  Francis falls over muscling his luggage onto the AeroExpress train.  We descend to a left luggage place then while away the hours at a Sbarro restaurant before waiting in the waiting room.  When we get on the train Igor and I have the bottom bunks in one compartment, the top bunks are empty.  I sleep soundly for a long time.

Sunday 9 September

Irina’s lovely house

I sit on my couchette and stare at the wall opposite (sometimes Igor as well).  When we get off the train at Perm’ people appear to take us away; a youngish man called Aleksei comes for me.  We go and meet a young woman called Irina.  Then we get in a car and set off for what seems to be Irina’s house.  Irina’s mother Aleksandra is worried I won’t know how to use the hot water, but it’s just like my system at home.  I establish myself in a very large and very very nice room…

Monday 10 September

I sleep, and then have rather a lot of breakfast.   Aleksandra gives me the address and Irina’s mobile number, then sets out.  Aleksei appears and takes me on a marshrutka, then a bus to the University.  Irina rings Aleksei to tell him to tell me to ring her when I want to go home.

The University has a checkpoint that the local council doesn’t allow them to use.

Some important people address us under the impression that we come from Oxford or Oxfordshire.  A couple of students of English come to take us round the University Museum and the Botanical Garden.  But it’s raining, so we can only go in the greenhouse.  But we stand in the rain a long time while they try to work out which greenhouse.

A primitive plant typical of the Permian Era

The first thing to see is an exhibition of plants typical of the Permian Era (named after Perm’) and that rather appeals to my sense of humour.  After the greenhouse tour I have to ring Irina which I have no idea how to do from my English mobile, so I borrow one of the guides’ and Irina tells me to try again at 8:30.  Martin, Heather and I go with a guide to a shop nearby to buy local SIM cards; we have to show our passports and have them photocopied.  We walk along ulitsa Lenina and find a pancake place that has WiFi and a nice toilet.

Some time later, I get on a bus and just when I’m wondering where I am Irina gets on as well.  We get off some time later and go to a grocery store then get in a crowded car with some of her friends.  When we get in, we talk about a visit to her school and I ring Heather who is keen in principle but it depends on her Ekaterinburg visit.

Tuesday 11 September

Irina takes me into town by bus and tram.  Our group has a tour round some sights.  I go to the student canteen with Martin and Heather, then decide I can’t face it and wander off into town.  Then I get on a 68 bus and manage to get off at the right stop by asking the person next to me.

I kill time until 1830, when I am due to ring Irina.  I can’t get through.  What to do?  I ask a taxi-driver, who says he’s never heard of the address.  I get on the 16 bus, going the opposite way from what I remember going into town.  I get a phonecall from Irina, who says I should get off at ul. Kolyaevo.  The bus goes through some familiar-looking regions and then comes to the end of the route.  I retrace my path somewhat through mud and then ask a motherly-looking woman who says she has never heard of the place I am living then rings a friend, after which she says I need to cross the road again, get the 16 bus, ask the conductor.  I do that and end up at the terminus again.

I try again and get on a 16 bus to Zaprud.  Then when it gets to a stop called ul. Startseva I decide it is looking too urban and get off.  I try ringing Irina many, many times.  It is getting dark and with the other people at the bus-stop looking threatening it is all getting like Twilight Portrait.  But with a great effort of concentration I manage to work out how to call Irina using my English card.  She says I should get the 16 bus and get off at ul. Kolybalova.  I manage to notice that the 16 bus has automated announcements of the stops.

Atmospheric bus-stop shot (by Martin)

I arrive at the bus-stop and wait.  Irina arrives with her uncle in a car.  We arrive ouside her house.  She asks, Am I angry with her and I say No.  Then the front gate turns out to be locked and she doesn’t have the key.  I say one of us can climb over the fence but she finds another way in.

We have our tea.  She says I should have something definite to say at the visit to her school.  Then we have a tense discussion about how I can find my way home.  Eventually she says she will show me the stop for the number 16 tomorrow.

Wednesday 12 September

We start off down the road so she can show me the bus-stop.  Then Irina has a mysterious conversation on her phone and Sasha appears in her car to take us to 1905 Square so I can get the tram and Irina can go to her school.

I go to the tourist office and get some more maps; then the group manages to assemble in the rain and we traipse round places where Yuri Zhivago and his Lara might have lived and loved if they had been real people.  But they weren’t.

The others go to have some lunch and I decide I need to use the daylight to work out the route home.  The 68 and the 16 take me to the ul. Kolybalova stop and I manage to find my way onto the street.  But I have no idea which of the many lanes leading off to the left I want.  Eventually I manage to get some kind-of-useful directions from a guy with metal teeth delivering beer and then I catch sight of a house with 10 2-ая Кольцевая on a sign.  And then I manage to find my way onto the right track and get into the house.

Enigmatic expanse of road

After a bath and several cups of coffee I set off to go to a meeting of the Perm Rotary Club we have been invited to.  The quasi-Masonic ritual seems a bit grotesque, but the people and what they are doing seem worthwhile.  I help Igor out with some of the interpreting and also respond to some questions addressed to the English side.  Then Aleksandr the ex-navy-officer who entertained us with Vysotsky-style songs gives me a lift home and the other passengers are eager with questions about England.

When I get in, Irina says the father of her friend Olya is interested in applied mathematics and economics; I show him some slides and he is interested in system dynamics, forecasting and data mining.  We agree to meet next Wednesday.  Then Sasha comes round, the girls get into girly mode, and I go to bed.

Thursday 13 September

I am supposed to be leaving early with Sasha to join the day’s trip into the countryside.

The girls drift round without urgency.  Irina asks Do you want any porridge?  I say No.  She makes me some and puts it beside me and looks at me until I eat it.  When we finally set off, Sasha demonstrates Formula 1 overtaking with one hand while turning the radio up with the other and pushing back her hair as well somehow…If we don’t make it in time I will say I never managed to speak to Heather about going to Irina’s school and it won’t be my fault.  But they have waited beyond the agreed time and Heather rather crossly tells me to hurry up.

We arrive somewhere and climb up a slippery steep path to take a picture and then we slip and slide back down again.

The view we clambered for

It begins to rain.  We have lunch in the rain.  After the other 4 have had a go, David and I get in a canoe and set off with an optimistic strike rate.  Our Russians are on the phone to their mates–or just flirting–while Heather and Martin’s is doing the paddling.

Canoeing on the Silva River

We visit the Kungur Ice Caves where I get bored and cold and bang my head many, many times and worry about time getting on and how I am going to get home.

Quite photogenic, these ice caves

It rains.  We spend too much time in a souvenir shop.  Some of us rather hope we might be setting off back now, but instead we have a picnic under an awning in the rain.

Under an awning in the rain

We finally get back to the University and Hatty’s hostess Tanya takes me in her car to find a taxi not near the railway station.  The taxi driver and I manage to find the road.  Then we drive up and down it looking for Irina’s house.  Then I get out and walk up and down looking for Irina’s house.  He charges me more than twice the fair price Irina named.

Irina and I have a very guarded conversation.  Olga says that I am bored and disappointed with Russia.  I say I am certainly not bored or disappointed with the three friends around the kitchen table but I would be better off with a definite aim.  I go to bed.

Friday 14 September

Sasha takes us all into town in her car by way of a visit to the local branch of Эхо Москвы, where she hands in a projector and screen.  Olga asks me my favourite type of music and guesses it must be opera; I admit I am frightened by how well she understands me.   I go to the International Department and find neither Svetlana nor Mariya.  Then I come across Svetlana and a guy who wants to show me round the Maths Department, even though there is no-one there.  Among general confusion, I say I am due to meet Professor Andrianov on Wednesday.

Then Irina and I meet Heather and they hit it off immediately.  After a change of bus we arrive at Irina’s school, where we stand at the front of a class and say a few words about ourselves.  Then we say something about differences between England and Russia and Svetlana the teacher tells us when we get it wrong.  Heather shows her slides about school matters in England and brings out the stuff they need to remember with great proficiency.  We get a fairly random selection of questions; a pretty girl wants to know about getting an English husband and a clever lad asks about highly-paid jobs in London.

Pedagogues, English and Russian

After putting Heather on a bus, Irina and I go to a pancake place and a rather low-grade ‘Indian bazaar’, then she helps me buy a replacement woolly hat.  In the evening I tiredly draft an email to Svetlana saying we really ought to do something with the presentations I have prepared.

Saturday 15 September

Irina says that Sasha will take us all into town in her car.  We hang around in the church shop–they have a nice copy of Лебединая песня and also just for once a Church Slavonic Bible, though it is heavy, bulky and expensive.

It comes round to four o’clock and I hope I am never going to meet Bad Irina.  Then Good Irina comes out of the shop to say that BI is stuck in traffic.  I buy the Bible and then BI finally appears.  It is all very unpleasant.  I agree to give a talk to her first-year students who won’t understand anything as a kind of of performing animal I guess.  She gives further instructions about what to say, when to appear and so on.

I go to meet Aleksei Aleksandrovich and we go to the theatre.  We have a speech from quite a nice-looking woman about how great (and mystical) the forthcoming season will be, and how the owner of a shop called Polaris has donated wallpaper.  The owner of a shop called Polaris stands up and takes a bow.

Termen–really rather dreadful

The show begins and is really rather dreadful.  The actors have been made to speak with comedy foreign accents and the text is painfully undramatic.  A piece supposed to be about modern music requires the most hackneyed Baroque pieces to affect the audience’s emotions.  The audience for its part not only texts but also talks on its mobiles throughout.

At the interval AA is clearly embarrassed at how poor it all is so I suggest we leave.  When I get home, I give Olga a Thomas Tallis CD and she looks nonplussed, but thanks me anyway.  The girls go to the bathhouse in the garden and I go to bed.

Sunday 16 September

Many interesting encounters outside here

I go into town in Olga’s taxi and we pass Irina on her bike.  I sit outside the church shop and Irina arrives on her bike.  I guard the bike while she shops in the church shop.  We sit.  A young man arrives.  They talk together indistinctly.  I make my excuses and leave.

In the evening I give Sasha and Irina some presents.

Monday 17 September

I go to the University by bus and tram, using some scraps of Wi-Fi connection on the way.  I go to see Svetlana, who rings one Larissa and asks her to find me some students.  Then I ask about using the Wi-Fi; she rings one San Sanych and wheedles.  Mariya gives me train tickets and tells me how to go where I’m going.

I am admitted to Larissa Sergeevna’s presence.  She establishes that there is some group whose teacher has gone sick and tells me to come back at 1330.  Following earlier instructions, at 1300 I repair to the International Department where one Olga takes me to the computer centre.  The guy there completely blanks us and says he knows nothing about nothing.  Then he says we can go round the back and see the administrator.  He complains that the International Department have been assigned many log-ins and he has no idea what has happened to them.  But he relents and I am connected to the outside world.

When I return to give my talk we spend some time connecting my computer to the projector and the IT bloke complains lengthily.  One of the students–a group of about 15 young women–is actively interested, and some of the others venture a reaction from time to time.  What they like is wordy slides that they can compare with what I am saying–it seems like the words accountant, hinder and rota are new to them–and recommendations for specific books.  I recommend If This Is A Man (because everyone ought to read it)  The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (because seeing things through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know what’s going on will help them to understand English life, even if they read it in Russian, and in that case they can pass it on to their geeky brothers or boyfriends) and The Night Watch (so that they get some value from all the Shakespeare they’ve done).

I decline Larissa’s kind offer to talk to a group of students of French at three o’clock, and wander round town.  Konstantin keeps on ringing me at inopportune moments with further and contradictory demands, so I never manage to eat and have difficulties shopping as well.

People did get a bit confused around this stage

Then I rush to the Theatre Theatre which is miles away and arrive a bit late, but so are they so that’s all right.  I find myself liking the Scarlet Sails musical and I might have cried with a better final duet.  I also manage to more-or-less explain the story to the others.

I spend a long time waiting to get my things back at the cloakroom, and then at the second bus-stop of my journey home.

Tuesday 18 September

We get on the bus and go to the Gulag Museum at Perm-36.  I remember when this was the last camp for political prisoners at the end of the Soviet period, and the guide says that the KGB failed to destroy it completely–because part of it was used as a real psychiatric hospital maybe–so they were able to restore it.

Display of prisoners’ implements

Barracks

‘Experienced prisoners said it was one of the most beautiful of the Gulags…’

I approve of the modest and low-key nature of the place, a welcome change from Volgograd for example.

We  return to the Uni and gather in the canteen.  We talk about lapses in organisation and how the return journey will go.  As we start off on our various ways home, Martin remarks that there is nothing to say for their flat except it’s easy to find.  I suggest they come round to Irina’s lovely house on Friday evening.  When I get home I borrow Irina’s dongle and find some worried emails from base telling me not to give anything away while pursuing professional contacts.

I give Irina some presents from Heather and she likes that.  I tell her Martin and Heather might be coming round on Friday and she is very pleased.  So it ends up with Irina speaking to Heather on my phone and an arrangement for Martin and Heather to come round for traditional afternoon tea on  Friday.

Wednesday 19 September

We wait outside the Art Gallery for a student to come and take us to the Regional Museum.  We wait some more.  Heather suggests going into the Art Gallery to ask if they can ring the Regional Museum and find out if our student is there.  So she tries that and I accompany.  Then the student appears and we set off.  She’s running late, that’s all there is to it.

So we go to the Regional Museum, which is low-key but interesting enough.  Then I return to sit outside the Art Gallery.  I send Konstantin a text to say I am free.  I sit for half an hour and get cold.  Maybe I can go home?

I get a call from Professor Andrianov, who then appears very quickly and we apologise to each other.  He commissions various treatments for my sore throat by mobile phone.  He says it is a pity I am stuck in the outskirts and they can arrange for me to stay in a hotel instead.  I say that I am fine with Irina and we have visits with neighbours planned for the rest of our time.

When we arrive, Prognoz turns out to occupy one or more former arms factories.  He takes me to a very large boardroom and plies me with liquids.  He says that they support the Orthodox Church and the Jewish community and have had a visit from the Israeli Ambassador.

Then he leads me to a frighteningly futuristic boardroom–this time it’s The Target that is referenced–where the young guns display whizzy products.  I ask questions about how they actually support decisions, what they do about data quality, and what exactly their offering is.  This is all in Russian.  Then the top guys interrogate me about where an automated system such as theirs might be used.  I suggest–using the example of road maintenance–that it might be local councils or the Highways Agency.

Then there is a break while students file in.  I am to give a talk completely different from what I was told.  I am to talk about my work in general terms, first of all in English (for the international students) and then summarising in Russian.  Saying the same thing would be too easy!  So I do that.  I tell them to understand the real problem and the real data.  At the end, someone asks about the Olympics.

International students imitate wakefulness while the Russian ones discuss yesterday’s TV

After that I am put in a car and taken to the University.  I tell my pals that it was about the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life…

We get in a minibus and go to a Palace of Culture in some farflung remoteness. The Panfilov Ballet starts with music that is far too loud, and at the beginning it’s about the level you might expect at such a venue.  At the interval some of our lot are distinctly unhappy and refuse to re-enter the auditorium.  The second half is a lot better; I start off by thinking that some of the numbers with the fat people are at the level of a normal show at Sadlers Wells, while at the end with Люби друг друга it is like a very good show there.

When I get in Irina serves me some dinner and asks me about my day, especially the meeting with Olga’s father.

Thursday 20 September

When I wake up I have a nasty sore throat and no voice.  I text Bad Irina to say I will not be able to give a talk for her.   Aleksandra (who has reappeared) makes me an infusion of Ural herbs that I am supposed to gargle.

I finally set off for the day’s excursions and as you do in these circumstances miss the bus and tram.  I am making reasonable progress when an accident means the tram is sent round all kind of remote parts and finally ends up at the University.

So after coming home and admitting my delinquency to Aleksandra I set off again and arrive quite early at the opera house.  There is no atmosphere.  The performance is appalling.  I sleep through most of the first half and then escape.

Job advert at the tram stop–I suspect this involves ‘topless’ if not ‘intim’

I have a long wait for the tram, then get a 38 to fairly near home.  Aleksandra kindly produces some dinner for me and Irina is nowhere to be seen.

Friday 21 September

I go into town starting with the 38 bus and we assemble and set off for Khokhlovka.  We have a very clued-up guide called Stanislav and start off with a typical izba from the Perm region.  I am interested to see many things I have only been able to imagine from literary sources.

Communal bowl and ostentatious salt cellar

Next there is a church with some rare features.

Church of the Transfiguration

Stanislav says it’s called a ship church because everything is in one line.  He also says he is an atheist and asks us to greet Richard Dawkins for him.  The whole place seems to reflect an entirely sensible way of making a living in the local circumstances, as opposed to Perm-36 which is a pathological way of doing this.

We have some involved discussion about what various things are called:  the balcony on the watchtower where you pull up the boards and pour boiling oil on assailants for instance.

Watchtower (picture by Martin)

For the moment, we have no idea about what to call boxes to hide things from bears, though later on the word cache seems to be the right one.

Cache for pelts (picture by Martin)

And here’s a nice picture of a windmill:

Windmill, to state the obvious

Anyway.  We get back to the University and Tanya rings to get us a taxi.  Nothing happens.  We watch students come and go.  Tanya tells us about the how greedy and dishonest Russian taxi drivers are.  The first firm are still trying to find a car.  She cancels them and tries another.  Olga comes by and says she will be along in an hour.  Tanya says she has won an award to do some work on idioms in Vanity Fair.  The taxi finally arrives and we set off hazardously.

At Irina’s: Aleksandra, Vladimir, Martin (hidden), Irina, Sasha, me, Heather

Irina and her father are sitting outside in the sunshine.  He introduces himself as Vladimir.  Slightly chaotic conversation starts off.  From time to time Vladimir takes Martin or me outside for some serious man talk and so that he can have a smoke.  He shows me some medals and gives me a Spetsnaz combat jacket.  In fact, he presents Martin and me with some military insignia as well.

We finally set off for the bus stop.  Irina leads us through some back ways and Martin takes pictures of houses.  On the way back, Irina says she is now very keen to visit England.  I say she is welcome to stay with me, but she needs to make sure her parents are happy with the idea and it will be a good idea to bring a friend.

Saturday 22 September

Sasha appears and hangs around a bit before Olga wakes up and gets herself together.  We drive to the station and I find our lot assembled on the platform.  When the train arrives, I am in a compartment with a toddler and his carers.  They aren’t keen on him being disturbed.  So I spend the day sitting in other group members’ compartments or going to the restaurant car with them.  The restaurant car steadily runs out of everything.  In the corridor, David tells me some interesting things about the history of the Russian language, which he has studied in Sweden.  In  Swedish.

I sleep pretty well, apart from when the toddler goes on the rampage very early in the morning.
Sunday 23 September

Vera has been ill in the night.  The taxi discussion continues and we decide Vera and Francis will go in one and Helen and Hatty in another–I will arrange.

At the station I submit to a tout wearing what might be an official badge.  Then I have to run after Vera and Francis to say it is 500R each.  The rest of us go on the Metro, which involves trailing along corridors and up and down steps.

Happy people at airport

After the normal Sunday transport problems in London, I arrive home late, wet and disoriented.

Afterwards

If anyone is interested in having a go themselves, this is an annual event and you can see the full announcement for 2013  here.

Two weeks for ~ £ 1,000 is very good VFM though I think you need some specific interest in Russia to find it all worthwhile.

ANNEX 1:  MY SUGGESTIONS

At the end, I made the following suggestions to Karen Hewitt, the organiser:

Here are a few specific points which you may find it useful to consider.  They are meant to be things that participants and organisers on the English side could do, rather than imposing more burdens on the Russians.  These are essentially my points, but I’ve circulated them round the group and taken out or toned down those that people disagreed with.

1.  Aim and scope

I found it was difficult to explain what we were up to, possibly because I wasn’t so sure myself.  The explanation that ‘This is really meant to subsidise English teachers from Perm going to Oxford, but we also hope to be of some use while we’re here’ didn’t seem to help.  People also seemed to be expecting a fully-fledged academic exchange with people from Oxford University.  (As an aside, apart from this confusion, I don’t think the Permians we met had much interest in Oxford, while they certainly did in England generally and in London.)

Recommendation:  Write down what seems to be an adequate description of the purpose of the trip and the nature of its participants and see whether people agree with it.

2.  Talks

There was some confusion here.  People were keen to give talks to students and were expecting some timetable to be produced for Friday/Monday with slots to fit their own talks into.  In fact, nothing of the sort happened and it dawned rather slowly at least on me that what you had to do was tell Svetlana what students you wanted and she would arrange it.  So one of my painstakingly-prepared presentations went unused. 

Recommendation:  I think all you need to do is to include a statement in the guidance that if you want to speak to students you should tell Svetlana what students you want and when.

3.  Organisation 

Similarly to the above, I think there was a great desire among the group members to do something useful for the Permians–students and otherwise–and likewise they wanted to speak to us, but somehow it never quite happened. There were a number of simple things we could have done, like for instance appearing at the same same table in the canteen each day or putting up a notice to say we would be happy to talk to students and would be in such and such a room at such and such a time for a chat, but by the time this had occurred to us time was running out.

Recommendation:    Include a statement in the guidance to the effect that if you want to make yourself useful there are various things you can do [as above], otherwise you can just go on the excursions.

4.  Train

We wondered about the necessity of getting the train both ways, rather than flying back say, and whether a policy of booking bottom bunks was the best.  But there was no consensus for change.

Recommendation:  No change

5.  Comments on English teachers possibly going to Oxford:  None

6.  Conclusion

This is becoming something that happens because it happens and so it’s beginning to drift.

Recommendation:  The arrangements for the programme should be reviewed in the light of a clearly-articulated purpose.

ANNEX 2: OBJECTIVES

Since no-one was specifying any objectives apart from raising money, I decided that they were:

1. Subsidise Permian teacher/s coming to Oxford

2. Give participants different experiences of Russia and do this as cheaply as possible

 3. Give Perm State University students and other Permians exposure to native English speakers by

–participants giving talks requested by those tasked with service teaching of English in other faculties

–participants volunteering talks on their own areas of interest

–otherwise

4. Give participants the opportunity to

–find out how their own area/s of interest/professional expertise are conducted in Perm/Russia

–exchange experiences with their counterparts

What’s on in Perm’ 8-23 September

July 16, 2012

We present some information below that may be of interest to those undertaking small group travel to Perm, and possibly to other people as well.

Portals

There are a couple of portals (that I have found so far) giving information on what’s on in Perm’:   properm and kulturaperm.  Neither of them is precisely abounding in events at present, but that may change…

Theatres

The ‘Theatre’ Theatre have Alye parusa  from 16 to 21 September.  They also have a festival called Tekstura of theatre and film about the present day, to be held 22-29 September.  Now that they’ve put the programme up, it looks rather interesting.  Pity it starts just as we leave…

The Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre opens its new season on 3 September.  In the relevant period, there is a Balanchine mixed programme on 8 September and the Marriage of Figaro (in Italian, as I am surprised to note) 18-23 September.

The Theatre of the Young Spectator has The Notebook (Agota Kristof) on 18/19 September, The Myths of Ancient Greece on 20 September, The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) on 21 September, and Dancing at Lughnasa  (Brian Friel) on 22 September.

The Bridge Theatre has The Cripple of Inishmaan on 8/9 September, Sansara (after Oleg Bodaev) on 11/12 September, Termen (‘Premiere!–An improbable story’) on 13-15 September, The Wedding 16/17 September, Juno and Perhaps  (a cult rock opera…perhaps) 18/19 September and The Hen 20/21 September.

The Red Flower Theatre has A Castle in Sweden on 12 and 19 September.

The New Drama Theatre has nothing listed after May 2012.

It looks as if the Hammer Stage are doing Tekstura as well.  They also have The Murderer (Aleksandr Molchanov; ‘Premiere!  Andrei has lost too much money at cards; they will forgive his debt, if he kills another debtor’) on 18-20 September.

The Evgeniy Panfilov Ballet are doing A Beach ‘Comme il faut’/The Winds Change (‘a show programme in two sections’) on 19 and 20 September.

Concerts

The Perm Philharmonia starts its season on 19 September with a performance by what seems to be Yuri Beshmet’s Orchestra from Moscow.  As far as I can tell from their site, the programme will include some (but surely not all) of: Khrennikov’s First Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Harold in Italy (Berlioz) and the Romeo and Juliet Overture (Tchaikovsky again).

Babi Yar

August 18, 2011

This pleasant-looking scene is unfortunately one of the most infamous sites of European history: Babi Yar, where Kiev’s Jewish population was massacred on 29/30 September 1941. The green lawn is where the ravine (yar = ravine) was later filled in, first of all by the Germans. The site is now quite a manicured piece of parkland, which makes me uneasy.  It looks like the place is out in the countryside somewhere, but actually it’s just a bit of parkland between one one block of housing and the next.

It feels like they’re trying to stamp on the famous Evtushenko poem: ‘There are no monuments above Babi Yar./ The steep cliff like a crude gravestone…Above Babi Yar the rustling of wild grasses/The trees look on sternly like judges. Everything shrieks here silently….’  That dates from 1961 of course.

Here’s the official (Soviet-era) memorial:

and an inscription in Russian:

which says:

Here in 1941-43 more than one hundred thousand citizens of Kiev and prisoners of war were shot by the Fascist German invaders.

This is an inscription in Yiddish, with pieces of stone (or glass) left to memorialise the dead:

I can make the last word into Kriegsgefangene (prisoners of war).  Interesting that while the official monument makes no mention of the Jews, there is an inscription in Yiddish.  Especially since the official–indeed any–use of Yiddish had been eliminated by this stage.

Finally, here’s an inscription from a small Jewish memorial:

It starts off with a quotation from Ezekiel (in the Valley of the Bones):

And I will put my breath in you, and you will live.

Notes on some bookshops in Kiev

August 13, 2011

Here are some remarks on bookshops I ambled round yesterday.

Kigarnya

First of all, it was ‘Knigarnya’ at 47 ul L’va Tolstogo.  Inside it was quite a nice clean modern shop, but unfortunately all the books were in Ukrainian, rather than Russian.  I think there were some English books in the far reaches of the back room; there was also a granny selling vegetables outside.

Then I made my way further down L’va Tolstogo and came to the Litera ‘book supermarket’, which also had a nice park opposite it.

Litera

They had a pretty decent selection of Russian fiction on the first floor, and it wasn’t too strangely organised; also some books of lit crit (really literaturavedenie) in the sub-basement, together with books in Russian.  The address is…ul L’va Tolstogo 11/61.

After that I made my way to Khreshchatyk, where I found the following corpse:

Nothing so depressing as a dead bookshop...

But then I found something more interesting on ul Bogdana Khmel’nytskogo:

Chitay-gorod

That was very nice:  clean, bright, friendly staff, decent selection of Russian fictiomn and also some books in English.  I completely overlooked the lockers you’re supposed to put your bags in to prevent you nicking stuff and nobody told me off.  I also came across H P Lovecraft looking a bit embarrassed to find himself in a prestigious-looking series of collections of works by ‘classic’ foreign authors:

H P Lovecraft shares his corner of the table with Jane Austen and (less bizarrely) the Marquis de Sade

Lovecraft is one of those writers who seems a great deal better in a foreign language because the poor translator has to decide what this garbage means and even render it into something resembling coherent prose in the target language.  Dostoevsky is the pre-eminent member of this tribe, with Dickens not so far behind.

The ‘book club’ thing apparently means there’s a card which gives you a discount, like France loisirs as I recall.

After that, my way led through the permanent anti-Timoshenko demonstration:

They don't like Yulia

I think their points were:

i)  Timoshenko was personally liable for Ukraine’s oil [and gas?] debt to Russia;

ii)  she had bought her English father-in-law a motorcycle.

Then the ‘Znaniya’ shop at Khreshchatyk 44 was gloomy and old-style:

The ‘we love Yulia’ faction favoured brighter  colours than  their opponents:

Crimeans believe Timoshenko

 

After that I failed to find any sign of the alleged bookshop in the ‘Globus’ shopping centre.  And on my way back to base I had a look in ‘Akademkniga’ at ulitsa B Khmel’nitskogo 42:

Reminiscent of the good old days...

That was real old-style, with the books displayed behind the counters so that they were safe from potential purchasers.  And since this was the shop of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, they were very largely in Ukrainian!

So that concludes my account of a journey through the bookshops of Kiev, conditioned as it was by my not speaking Ukrainian and this computer not speaking Russian.