“I think I miss my metro, or maybe I just miss you”

11 Jan

“He said, ‘Take it all at once, it will be better for your health,’” Yulia translated, matter-of-factly.  I looked dubiously at the squat Russian man sitting across from me, read his Simpson’s “Never Too Old To Rock” shirt for what was perhaps the fortieth time, looked around circumspectly to make sure this wasn’t one big practical joke and obediently drained my plastic cup…of самагон.

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, allow me to laconically translate – moonshine.

My throat burns not unpleasantly after standing so long in the snowstorm overwhelming Kyiv.  I have no doubt the drink is in fact чисто (pure, or natural), as our semi-host claims, the strongest alcohol I have tasted in my life, and a great source of pride for this man.

Less than twelve hours before this I had sworn-in as an offical Peace Corps Volunteer.  Roughly seven hours before my dorm room was wrecked as I tried, determined and increasingly frustrated, to make my packing efforts more compact and effective while Kari and I rapped along with Atmosphere and retro LL Cool J.  We got a call saying four groups of volunteers had missed their trains due to the slick roads and a standstill caused by an accident five hours before, and I missed when they shoved Kari’s group out the door into the bus for the train station four hours and fifteen minutes before.  Forthy minutes before this at the train station Matt and Jillian had stayed behind while (another) Matt and I met up with a Peace Corps rep to get our heaters, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors – when we got back to the waiting area, they had already left for their train.

Rumbling toward the west, Matt and I sat with our newly acquired Russian friend, Volodya, and his wife as well as our Ukrainian work counterparts.  Simultaneously thinking of the next two years and checking how much Russian I can understand against the trainslations my counterparts give me became harder as our new friend made us participate in toast after toast – to new friends, his and our health, to women.  Though I was served less than a finger each time, our host’s generosity with his drinks increased as our conversation progressed.  Clearly worried about the poor overwhelmed American girl, Matt’s counterpart gave me an encouraging nod when our friend’s wife handed me an apple.  One of my counterparts hands me a banana as I set down my apple rind, and while our compartment mates make small finger sandwiches to offer, she slips my cup out of my hand and in a granceful motion denoting experience, throws the liquid into the hall outside our coupe.

«Don’t worry, they’re clean, I washed them» Volodya tells me as I take slices of apple from his hand.  My laugh becomes painful when, after a pause he adds, «Yesterday.»

Music: “The Metro Song” -The Wombats

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2 Responses to ““I think I miss my metro, or maybe I just miss you””

  1. paige 11 January, 2010 at 08:20 #

    Oh Lin Lin,

    What incredible experiences!!!! Even if it means eating a dirty apple :-P

  2. jndanley 11 January, 2010 at 11:27 #

    Wow, props on the самагон! I’m a little afraid to try it, honestly. I might stick to homemade wine ;)

    Also, yeah right after you guys left they said our train was leaving and we had to go. That whole day was so crazy! Glad you got to your site ok–how long was your trip?

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