Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
Started January 13, 2017
We arrived in Kiev in September of 1998, with little expectation of what we faced. For housing, we started with a month in a temporary-duty ("TDY") house arranged via the American Embassy and Marianne's school. Now, normally a month's stay would not be remarkable, but this was our first home in a new and mysterious country.
The apartment building entry was rough, which we learned was the norm for post-Soviet Kiev. Building exteriors belong to the city and, hence, seldom get cleaned, much less renovated.
Inside, the decoration was as one might expect for a rental that served US government employees on temporary duty. Nothing fancy, but serviceable.
Pretty soon, it seemed like home. There was a rotary dial-up connection to the internet, so we could send out the emails that became our connection to the world back home. In principle, there could have been regular telephone too, but we had not yet figured out how to buy and use calling cards and the TDY phone did not allow long-distance connections. Skype or any phone-over-IP, of course, were still years in the future. Incidentally, this printer had been in our 26-pieces of luggage.
The little kitchen was enough for the two of us, just barely. If we were lucky, Marianne cooked, but she was also gainfully employed while I was still in limbo, so I had to prepare some things too. I do not have fond food memories from that first month.
Our little TDY place was also filling up with things we needed to purchase locally, before we moved to an unfurnished apartment. I think we started with electrical things like kitchen appliances because none of these had been in our luggage. It was interesting that South Korean equipment from the likes of Samsung were universal, a legacy of North Korea's historic connections with the Soviet Union. It seems Stalin had banished thousands of North Koreans to the Soviet hinterlands and, from immigrant cadre, the South Koreans had built a post-soviet commercial infrastructure.
Who would have thought buying toasters would be so educational?
Within a month, we had found Nadia, an indispensable real estate agent, to show us rentals and, for a very brief period, purchasable projects. What on earth were we thinking? We settled on a pleasant and convenient rental, with a wonderful view, and we stayed there for two winters. That's how time was measured in Kiev.
Here are links to the three emails we originally sent back to tell family and friends of our new apartment. They still tell a fun story and any other memory I have is vague anyway.
But our photo record shows more, so we get to expand our memories.
Over almost two years, our Stryletskaya apartment took on the personal details of a real home.
Now, you might think that we should have been satisfied with our church-view apartment, and you would have been right. However, we just couldn't shake the bug of having a place to call our very own. The next house story.