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  [22.03.03] Transilvanian realities
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01 Sep 2001 :: Yesterday night I returned from Romania. I went there for two days to see the office of my future employer, WebSci Inc. I also wanted to take a look at the city and life conditions there. Frankly speaking, I had never been to Romania before thus hadn't know what to expect to see there... [ more.. ]

26 Jun 2003 :: Greetings, Konst. Sorry for the delay. I went to Cambodia for six days on a visa run. Boy, talk about third world! They don't even have ice cream there! (at least, not in Koh Kong) > But I suppose you saw something new there. Does it > differ much from Thailand? Very different... [ more.. ]

14 May 2002 :: Hello, dear readers. From the moment of writing the last news item about 22 days have passed. I've got a lot of news and impressions, and I suspect it won't be an easy task to tell about all of them. First of all, on the 27th April the counter of my age had increased by one... [ more.. ]

[ 24th Mar 2003 ] Kharkov news | 3 comments | leave a comment |

Damn it. Damn, damn and damn again. This evening I encountered quite a standard problem which appears every time I write texts for the site. So maybe I had to get used to such a thing. Thus, I give you an advice for free. If you feel like starting writing various stuff for someone, for you or for imaginary audience (in psychnoterapy it's ofter recommended to write diary), never make big pauses between notes. A lot of impressions get collected that you feel pity to leave not written, but when you think about starting doing it you get scared by the amount of things to write. But at this very moment I'm more into getting out of such a situation myself than into giving advices. Fortunatelly, during the last month your sincerelly wasn't idle. So I cannot complain about lack of impressions. Among them there were a job change and related to it move to another city towards the border with Hungary in the region which is called Transilvania you probably heared about. And in between jobs there was a two weeks long vacation spent in Ukraine, in my sweet native Kharkov. About the latter thing I'll tell you today in brief, how it was.


It was half a year since the last visit home, during which I lost familiarty with some things. In Chernovtsy inscriptions in the streets (already with Cyrillic letters, but not yet in Russian) brought nostalgy. I came to the city because of not really being fond of the prospective to spend a lot of time on the Chernovsty-Ternopol distance. Even by quite a good train "Sofia-Moscow", the loose of time is very big. The distance of only 100 kms long is passed in 11 hours! Bullshit. And the bus brought me to Kiev in 9 hours, which is a clear economy of time. It was even better from the financial point of view, since the bus trip cost less.

The route was the following: Iasi-Chernovtsy-Kiev-Kharkov. On the Ukrainian territory the whole way by a decent transport summary cost $17. The "Capital express", a new speed train, gladden me a lot. It was launched about a half a year ago between Kiev and Kharkov. Just the last summer I tried it for the first time. Then, bothered by the absence of Russian-speaking people during the previous two days I had a funny talk with a stuardess asking her in which coach was going Kuchma (Ukrainian president) and if I occasionally bought a ticked for his place. Well, I didn't.

Sure, it doesn't feel that bad to make a 400 kms way in 6 hours. Eight very modern (not to say "european-class" - I don't like this word) coaches, inside there is coffee, tea, beer, tv.. On the latter there were new post-Soviet clips, that's why by the time of arrival I had a possibility to find out new directions on our music scene. Especially I liked the last video of "VIA Gra" which had some s&m motives. 10 points of respect by Klyagin's 10 points table. Even in spite of the fact it was playing all around, during the visit there wasn't a single day when I didn't hear it.

For a comparison: not so long ago (a month at most) in Romania was launched a super-modern train called "Blue Arrow" on the Iasi-Bucharest route. Goes quickly, has good chairs, etc. But, 1) was purchased from the French; 2) has only two coaches that in our "Express" train would have been rated as 2-class, since they don't have separate compartments; 3) inside there is nothing sold, you can forget about tea, coffee and beer; omnia mea mecum porte. One day before going to the new city where my new company is, sending bagages at railway's messaging I managed to make a couple of shots with "The Arrow". Check out the photos section soon.

M1 vs MTV Russia

As to the music, the new channel "M1" gladden me a lot. Sounds like "our response to MTV". Of course, a music channel itself is a good thing. And the response can be seen in the following: "MTV Russia" in Kharkov (and in the rest of the cities too, I believe) can be caught only with a satelite or throught cable which is available not in all zones. And sure, there is not "MTV Ukraine" or something. So, the guys thought a bit and decided that such a profitable area cannot remain unfilled, and made almost the same channel, with severe differences: 1) it's Ukrainian; 2) you can have it with a simple air antenna.

Frankly speaking, all the new music things in the post-Soviet cultural space were over soon, at the same place - in the train. Then, watching the channel mentioned above from time to time, I was seeing the same stuff. The same MTV thing, knocking new "hits" into your head. But hey, that's what it's all about, and noone makes you watch it. Just turn it on once a month to find out what's new there. My attention was attracted by an interesting thing which is quite actual for the modern Ukraine. A long ago, in the beginning of the independence some stupid guy proposed to translate everything from Russian into Ukrainian. Saying everything he meant it, including titles of movies and songs. There were even attempts to duplicate soundtracks of Russian movies, but they realised it was too much soon. However, they didn't stop translating titles, like someone wouldn't understand original ones. My humble opinion is that if someone cannot understand Russian, he would hardly understand Ukrainian too. And vise versa.

Evident Wise

During my last coming home about half a year ago, sincerelly, I didn't see anything like this. This time some really clever one, and not a long ago, proposed a very wise solution: not to translate titles and own names of various things, leaving them as they are instead. In written and spoken variants. For the first time it got my attention on the very "M1" where there are quite a lot of Russian music videos. Then I saw it several times in the subway on ads. It's a very positive tendention. Really, Romanians for example, they don't translate names and even widely known phrases from other languages in publications considering that the public understands them. Let's take an issue of "PC Magazine Romania" of the last year from shelve. It's not quite a shelve, since I don't have even a small locker in my appartment, whatever. Let's now read an article written by the editor chief with impressions from a visit to CeBIT in Hannover, a proposition: "Fara accidente de nici un fel si fara einzwei politai", which is translated as "Without accidents and einzwei polizei". Simply they took a well-known phrase and introduced it into Romanian phonetics, having slightly changed the way it's written. Really, why not? Alphabet is the same - the latin one. That's how it should had been practiced with the East-Slavic languages a long ago. Especially knowing that the capability of passive understanding between them is much higher.

Meteorogical Conditions

Every time I come in the native city after a long period of living somewhere else, I don't take a taxi or something like that to get home, preferring the subway: "Uyzhnyi vokzal" - "Sovetskaya" - "Pushkinskaya". Where if not in the subway you can see faces of fellow compatriots who are returning from work, village houses or picnics? They are on their regular routes and cannot know that the guy in a black jacket and a cap with a small travel bag in his hands haven't been home a whole half of a year. That's why it looks strange to them that I'm smiling like an idiot, doing it not because I'm stupid but just due to being happy to see my city again.

So I exited at "Pushkinskaya" and went towards Frunze str. which is situated in so-called "quiet center". It felt like my way is going not through one of the central streets of a city with one million and a half population. Even opposite -- the beaming surface of sidewalk and heaps of snow turned into ice on its margins resembled the "Adventures of Custeau's team" where they hung out in the North Pole. Courious of who's such a good boss here, I found out soon that Kharkov now has a new mayor someone Shumilkin. Who votes for such people, I dunno. That's not mentioning the illumination.

Funny Observations

Anyway, this crap with the new mayor and stuff is just a a fly in the ointment, not more. During the incomplete two weeks of my stay a whole bunch of various positive impressions gathered, including nice gags I want to tell you about. Being equipped with a digital camera, I photographed a guy who stands on a building called "Salamandra's house", and has a roll of paper in his hands. That's how it looks like from the first sight. But as soon as you look at him from another point of view, the roll gets turned into something else. Moreover, here you can find a small album which contains some more shots which looked funny to me.

The humor from the everyday life of Kharkov is a special topic. Here is a small sketch. During one of evenings I went to my friend's Max place to visit him and her wife, drink some "Martini" and watch the "Lord of the rings" movie. After I came and we stayed a little, as it usually happens, we had to go to the shop for the second time to get more drink. So we went to the same place, to the "USI" supermarket where we bought the previous portion of vermouth from.

Everyone knows that "Martini" without olives with anchovys is not really a vermouth but a regular mash. First we had to find a shelve with the product in the supermarket. When we finally did that, a shop-girl who was standing nearby, was asked a question if they had olives exactly with the filling we wanted. Then it turned out they didn't have with anchovys, but there were ones with some other fish, and also with nuts and lemon. The lady became that enthusiastic about her olives tale, that she didn't noticed us taking something and now standing still and listening to her. "Well.. can we go now?" - I asked her gingerly, and just after he let us go we left for the cash register with a wish to have a great evening.

On the cash register there was a lady who sold us the same set of goods the last time we were there two hours before. When I recognized her, my communicative personality decided to say "Lady, we have seen you here today already". She neither blinked nor thought a second, but said immediately a phrase that left me shocked. You know what she said? Your luck! Pefect. The lady from "USI" won a prize for the quick wit and sense of humour.

IT Business

In spite of the fact that during the last year and a half I haven't been involved directly into the IT market in Kharkov, I'm trying to stay informed about what's happening there. From talks with my friends programmers sometimes it's interesting to find out which company has opened, which has closed, what kind of projects they're developing, etc. Actually you cannot call it a real market of information technologies, since the IT labour market is a better name, because the products of their work are not sold locally. Usually in Kharkov as well as in the rest of East Europe there are only projects ordered by someone from the West. There are no orders from local businesses that would pay good money. The latter usually means at least $4-8/ho.

However, it's neither that good with Western projects. Because of the global crysis in the area, the things are not going so good in the outsourcing field. Recently it became harder to find projects and their costs have been dramatically lowered. You cannot find giant orders like complex web portals, which were popular back in 1998, anymore. Now guys from smaller companies take short-time projects for $2000, $1000 and sometimes even for less. Having in mind the need to support the company infrastructure, costs of looking for new clients, and also other risky curcumstances, that can appear due to eventual lacks of clients, the money they work for are not that a lot. That's what keeps me of getting involved into the business: it doesn't pay much more than I'm paid now in the position of senior C++ developer, but you have more problems. Judging from the experience of my friends who own such companies, as soon as you found one you do also have problems with your personal free time. And such a variant doesn't really suit me, since working 5 days a week of 8 hours each I can quite pay attention to my free software, photography, writing articles and these notes also. With an unlimited schedule I would hardly be able to do it.

Big companies like to outsource their developments in "cheap" countries as well. By opening an office in a country where making software costs less, and then selling the products on their local Western markets they gain a real income increase. Knowing the current market state, for some of them it's also the sole chance to survive. I noticed an interesting regularity. Here in Romania there are many big Western companies that open their development centers here. You can find ones of "Alcatel" and "Seimens" in Timisoara, and even the company I work for - iSee Media, all of them are moving their projects down here, so that in their home countries they can free resources to improve marketing, leaving the development part to our guys. I haven't heared about such a major presence of foriegn companies in Ukraine. Outsourcing there is mostly represented by a "classic" scheme, when you have separate companies writing software to orders. Something makes me think that the laws is the reason which scares potential investors.


Despite obvious attempts of Kiev to take over the first role in education, science and business, Kharkov is continuing to develop. The beauty of the streets of my city inspired me to a short walk through them with a digital camera which resulted into the album you can see here. The guys of the virtual place of meeting for kharkovites from all over the world at put out a link to it in sign of their appreciation. I like their site too, and I find it a great idea to have such a place on the Net.

The city's current development can be easily seen from the fact that there are new shops opening and the night life is becoming better due to new clubs. The globalisation with the MTV ahead reached our places too. Once we were sitting with friends in one of clubs and listening to the Russian dance pop music, my ears heard something weird. It was the "Cheeky song (touch my bum)" thing whose video I saw in Romania on the local MTV just before leaving. There were two girls in it called Monica and Gabriela respectively. Those are quite usual Romanian female names. The girls sing in English with Romanian accent and shaking their butts in front of camera. "Touch my bum, this is life" - they're saying to us. The part of the song where it's possible to find out they're from here comes when they start counting from 1 to 5 (unu, doi, trei, patru, cinci). Well, I was really surprised.

See You, My Dear City!

On my way back in the "Capital Express" train going from Kharkov to Kiev, in my mobile which I use as a notebook, I tried to describe my feelings related to the leaving. Couldn't really write anything well-rounded, but the main idea was that Kharkov is my city and my home. The sole on the Earth dear for me. I don't have another home and another one just cannot exist. Its streets, spirits, people, parks, "mirror well", the opera theatre, typical South-Russian accent and the ethernal dispute on the status of the Russian language.. all of that is very dear to me. Probably I even want my children who I certainly will have one day to appreciate and love all of that. As it is. Because there is no other Kharkov.

Fortunatelly, I had enough time to think during the way back. The willing to maintain a closer cultural connection with the native city gave me an interesting idea I won't tell anything about so far. It's a secret. I'm planning to start working on it in the nearest future as soon as I work out the things related to getting an Internet connection to my new appartment.

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