Archive for February, 2009

Entry for February 28, 2009

February 28, 2009


These notices are about everything under the sun: about helping you when you decide to slim or to put on weight, offering tours to Thailand and places for trading out-of-dooors, opening vacancies for couriers to deliver paper documentation to offices or pizzas to customers. From the notices you may find out where you may buy electric heaters and air-conditioners, where you may have steel doors made, and how fixers, plumbers or any other technicians may be called for. Specially trained people may be invited to lead the birthday celebration of your kid and “experienced” toast-masters are encouraged to guarantee the festive atmosphere at weddings. People in the notices buy, sell, rent, lease, repair computers, perfom surgeries, consult, council, transport goods, put up satellite television…

The notices are about all that. But they are also about hope. About the hope that you will succeed while doing something you really can do.Some 15 years ago I put my notice on a wall like the one which can be seen in the background – offering “good” lessons of “good” English. You may wonder how my small notice could have been found among hundreds of similar notices. And if found, how it could it have been read. Frankly speaking, it remains a mystery for me too. But …it WAS found and it WAS read. My first pupil who was enrolled for private lessons that way is now a teacher herself, and probably by now she has put up her own notice right on that wall too. I’ll go there and see.

Entry for February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009


Books for “consumption on the metro” are, as a rule, pocket paperbacks. In 99 percent of cases they are held open on chapter one and are read no further than chapter two. When a reader is standing (or sitting) not too far away, you may look sideways into their book and see a most typical dialogue between “him and her” crammed with nothingness.

This time the scene was different. A spare grey-haired man of about fifty-five entered the metro car and sat down on the seat that has just been vacated — right opposite me. His book was bound in a leather cover and he opened it on the page where a bookmark was placed. And immedaitely his face got illuminated, he started pencilling on the margins and underlining something in there. There existed only two realities in this world for the man: he and the book.

I like the man for his being carried away by the book he was communicating with. In the times when video-culture dominates, when primitive tunes with even more primitive lyrics are being swallowed by multitudes, when statistically every Ukrainian reads fewer than one book annually, I ask you to notice the man whose face is illuminated while he is READING.

Entry for February 26, 2009

February 26, 2009


While walking I started fumbling for my wallet and didn’t notice one of my gloves falling on to the asphalt. All of a sudden I heard a stranger’s voice behind me: “Tovarishch (=Comrade), you’ve lost your glove!” I turned round and saw a man in his 70s pointing to my glove on the pavement. The man’s eyes were sacrificially burning: he was using his chance of applying the principle he had adhered to for so long, and on which he had been raised himself, and which he might have been trying to inculcate in so many other people. The principle, which may sound alien (if not ridiculous) in modern times: “One man to another is a friend, a comrade and a brother.” I momentarily felt that the emphasis he was putting in his words was a kind of protest against the now dominating standard of conduct: Homo homini lupus est – the original coinage attributed to a Roman playwright Plautus. By calling on me the man tried to establish an emotional link of “collectivism”, of involvement and concern with other people’s lives – those were the basics of the Soviet propaganda we were fed with.

I picked up my glove and smiled at the man. Not everything was bad in that propaganda, even if it was utopian in the grand scheme of things

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