A few more tales from Ukrainsky

1 May 2008 at 09:25

Firstly the price of alcohol. Ridiculously cheap. Its no wonder this country has a reputation for consuming vast quantities of Vodka when you can pick up a litre of the good stuff for around $5. And when your average store devotes half its shelf space to that and other types of alcohol you know you have a problem. I’ve never really been a Vodka person, I mean its just so bloody tasteless, you only really know when you have a bad one. While you can sip on a scotch and talk about the flavour, Vodka serves one solitary purpose – to get you legless in a hurry. Its one brutally functional drink. Just like most things Russian, lacking a little in the elegance, but definitely not be taken lightly.
I was catching the taxi to work the other morning and had to wait for the taxi driver to finish his shotty of Vodka. He explained that it was just to warm him up a bit…

I have finally gotten bored of having nothing to watch on TV. 100 stations in either Ukrainian or Russian can get pretty frustrating, the best one was the discovery channel – I flicked it on one night and the ads were in English. There is a god! I thought, but alas as soon as the ads were over the program was overdubbed in Russian. That was a cruel trick. Anyway I have splashed out and bought an AppleTV. Those guys at Apple are bloody clever. I now have 100 movies to pick from. In English!

Now the weather. Its shit. And that’s about all I have to say on that one.

The roads are about as good as the weather. They are shit too. There’s not many cops around because even on the main highways there are so many potholes you’ll just wreck your suspension if you tried fanging it. I went out to the car markets at Gorlovka (some little town 50km north of Donetsk) a couple of weeks ago with Andrey, the senior Kyivstar engineer. He wanted an early start so he picked me up at 5am and we were off. Andrey was with a couple of friends, who just happened to be bodyguards. Big mean Russian beefcakes. Except they were hilarious. Andrey was busy accusing one of them of not really knowing his sexual orientation, was giving this poor guy heaps, and he just rolled over and took it. Good fun if they’re on your side, I would imagine not so much fun if they weren’t… These guys could cause serious amounts of damage when they are not busy being cream puffs.

The work has kindof dropped off. I really think everyone has lost interest a bit. Kyivstar is busy hassling everyone to do a good job and then I find out that they are not paying certain people – they say that if they do a good job on this part of the project then they will strike it rich later on. I think you can tell where that will probably end up. So when ever I get on the phone to the subcontractors (the guys who aren’t being paid) to shake them up a bit (they are pretty slack, for obvious reasons) I am met with a disinterested “we’re doing all we can” I’m sure they are… Another trick Kyivstar has pulled on us is giving all of our (“our” being Ericsson, the company I am working for) technical surveys to our competitor Huawei to check. This has made life difficult for us as we are now not allowed to make any mistakes. Any you can bet those sneaky Chinese are picking every hole they can in our work, because they want our jobs. This has slowed everything right down as we have to double check everything. And then check it once more just to be sure.

1 month to go here and I am off. What a crazy place this is.

P.S. Russian Caviar… I can see what all the fuss is about. I just got the cheap stuff. If someone said “Beluga” I would say no. No conundrums about sustainability.