Archive for November, 2015

EMPATHY THAT MAKES US HUMAN

November 11, 2015

2015-11-11Judge-2Judge was the best trooper the West Deptford police department in New Jersey (U.S.A.) had ever had. Not every policeman could boast Judge’s career.  Within six years of the service there were 152 arrests to Judge’s credit. Thanks to him, three cars and the money to the amount of $47,000 were returned to their owners, and three criminals were disarmed right in the streets of the town in broad daylight.

Judge was a German shepherd dog. The time of his service was from 2007 till 2013. Then he was removed from the job due to problems with his teeth. He could hardly eat his food or chew his favourite toy. Last June there came a cruel diagnosis: cancer. The dog had several tumours, which brought his survival chances down to zero.

2015-11-11Judge-1A few days ago Judge was put to sleep. But not before the policemen of the New Jersey township had given their last farewell to him. The police arrived at the Swedesboro Animal Hospital, where Judge had been receiving his treatment, a few minutes before Judge and his caretaker came there. The policemen lined up and Judge passed between the two rows of his former colleagues. That was his last route (http://www.focus.de/panorama/welt/spalier-und-traenen-bewegender-abschied-fuer-einen-todkranken-polizeihund_id_4496647.html)

I believe Judge understood what was happening.

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UKRAINIAN HURGHADA

November 9, 2015

Glory to Ukraine-Glory to the HeroesHurghada, an Egyptian coastal resort, is a traditional place of rest popular with visitors from the ex-USSR. A Facebook user Nina Didenko shared a story that had happened this past summer in Hurghada.

Vacationers were taking the sun on the beach on a hot morning. They were from Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldova, Russia… All of them communicated in Russian and it was hard to say which of them was from which place. The only “known” group were a few strongly built young men with deep brown tan on their necks and arms but with quite white torsos. The people already knew that they were the military from the city of Kirovohrad in Ukraine who came to spend their leave there. The young men had arrived a day before and celebrated their arrival into the early hours after midnight– this might be the reason why they appeared somewhat late on the beach the next day. This time the youths decided to make their presence on the beach more impressive, and they suddenly shouted in a clear and loud chorus: “Glory to Ukraine!” (a customary greeting of all those who, on Maidan in Kyiv, were fighting against the hateful regime of Viktor Yanukovich and who are now fighting against the Russia-backed separatists in Donbas). The call, like an explosion, ripped the sleepy atmosphere of the beach. And then… “Glory to the Heroes!” sounded as a reply in many voices from the loungers. The exchange of these two phrases has always been a kind of password into a circle of all those who are ready to stand up in arms for Ukraine. It was so when Ukraine fought for its independence in WWI, later – in the years 1942-1952 in West Ukraine against the Germans and the Soviets, then during the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv in the winter of 2013-2014, and also now, when the war against Russia and its hirelings is waged in East Ukraine.

For a moment, with this two-sided greeting, the African beach of Hurghada turned into a Ukrainian territory.

The episode told by Nina Didenko has a personal note for me too. In 1970-1971 I served in the military unit in Kirovohrad. There was much of training, shooting and reconnaissance instruction. And when we were rigging our parachutes on hot summer afternoons, we wore our blue-and-white striped vests, and the sun was tanning our necks and arms.

THE NEWSPAPER WOMAN

November 3, 2015

2015-10-30In the address-book on my phone she is listed as “Ira the newspaper woman.” My wife and I have known her for about ten years already. Once we needed to buy some small thing – was it writing paper or a cello tape? I have already forgotten what it was, but there she was standing, right on the sidewalk, at the folding table. On the table there were heaps of newspapers and some stationary – and among them there was just what we needed. Ira was business-like and talkative.  She asked us if we were interested in some printed matter, like TV programs or horoscopes. She could “keep” them for us. My wife and I exchanged glances. All right, why not? I ordered a couple of Ukrainian periodicals which, as a rule, were not available at official outlets filled with Russian tabloids and glossy magazines, and my wife said she would prefer some weeklies dealing with health issues and housekeeping.

That’s how we became Ira’s clients. I admired her discipline and commitment. During all these years there has never been a single Friday (our “collection day”) when I came and she wasn’t at her newspaper table. Whatever the season, whatever the weather… With the winter cold and the summer heat her complexion got almost purple and her voice continuously hoarse. She had to get up as early as five o’clock every morning to go by metro across the whole city to take the ordered newspapers and magazines from the supply center and then to bring two heavy bags to her makeshift kiosk. But from one week to another there were more and more people swarming at “Ira’s table.” Some three years ago, when her business peaked, Ira could afford to rent a booth which she turned into her kiosk. Made of iron, the booth was icy cold in winter and unbearably hot in summer, but at least there was some protection against the elements, and Ira didn’t have to carry unsold periodicals home with her after her workday. Things had been going like that till the outbreak of the war in Donbas. “People have become much poorer, and newspapers much costlier,” Ira explained to me one Friday. “Now I can hardly sell a tenth of what I sold before. And then… the Internet…television… Events change so quickly… The newspapers don’t catch up…”

Ira forewarned her remaining clients that at the end of the month she was closing her business – so that dedicated readers of the “printed info” could have enough time to find other sources and channels of getting newspapers. It was a long notice and I managed to arrange a subscription at the local post office not to have my reading interrupted.

On Friday last week my wife and I took a box of chocolates – our farewell present for Ira – and went to make our final purchase from her. That was a moving scene. We were like relatives. I asked Ira’s permission to take a picture of her. People are rather sensitive nowadays about being photographed, but Ira’s “yes, of course” came friendly and natural. Has she found a new job? Not yet… There’s some hope… as always… Times were much harder when Chornobyl exploded (earlier Ira told me how she was getting out of Kyiv in May, 1986 – after the Chornobyl nuclear plant disaster – with a baby daughter in her arms). “Of course, we were younger then,” she added with a sad smile.

We won’t buy from Ira anymore. But the name “Ira the newspaper woman” remains in my address book. I can’t bring myself to delete it.


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