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Author Topic: DOK Donetsk Airport  (Read 1329 times)

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Offline anotheropus

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DOK Donetsk Airport
« on: June 23, 2012, 04:08:14 AM »
Hello my friends :)

As many of you know I've lived in the Donetskaya Oblast since October 2011 as a temporary US expat married to a wonderful Ukrainian lady.

But this is not about that, this is about this: DOK.

When I first arrived at DOK, in the early days of October last year, I could see the shell of construction for a new terminal. Our plane nosed over the old terminal and a bus came out to us. The bus took us to the entry area where we stood in lines as we were joined by the luggage carts form the airplane ("Here you go--find your chimadoni--we brought it to you.").

At this point in Donetskaya history the concept of a mechanized luggage retrieval system inside of the terminal was inconceivable. So I went to the several luggage carts and began looking. I found my three bags, each on a different cart. Some kind worker men looked at me and realized I was not Ukrainian and suddenly my superstar status as an American was in high gear. I guess they recognized me from my many appearances on Leno and Letterman. I'm certain they didn't remember me from the Arsenio Hall Show.

At any rate, as an non-RU speaking person I was temporarily in an exalted status (they know you're one of the few people in the airport who will have money and be glad to dispense some of it to luggage carriers).

The man closest to me muttered something intently in RU and I replied, "Ya nye guvaru po Ruski," [I don't speak Russian], which is a phrase people over here never ever hear anyone say. So when you say this they look at your 23 heads and just don't understand you at all. So I switched to the more useful phrase, "Ya nye munoga punyumayo po Ruski." [I understand Russian a little bit]. He nodded and repeated the unintelligible Russian phrase he first said.

Being the astute human observer that i am I just ignored all of our previous conversation, considered our context and said, "Tree chimidoni--bolshoi ee chorney." [I've got three big black suitcases]. He nodded, turned around and yelled something at workers and suddenly out of some 120+ people on the plane, I had an instant entourage looking for my bags.

Then the comedy began. These old guys dove into all of the luggage carts and started digging out, and holding up black (and near black) suitcases and hollering out a question to me. Most often I saw it wasn't mine and I yelled out "Nyet." Eventually we had my three chimidoni and I was headed for one of the two border control security booths with my entourage in tow.

At the booth the serious Ukrainian border guard (redundant, I know), looked at me and my team, "Hmmm, he must be important!," and he greeted me in traditional Ukrainian border guard speak. PASSPORT."

I handed him my passport.

"How long you will be in Ukraine?"

"I will work here."

"Business?"

"Yes, business."

"No--name business."

"I don't have a business name, I work private on the internet, contracts." Not a word I said registered with his IVRS Internal Vocabulary Recognition System. So I added, "ya robotaet tolka menya-internet--biz Ukrainski business." [roughly: I work alone in the internet--without a Ukrainian business].

Now I'd really done it. I could see the millisecond transitions in his eyes as his IVRS linked up with his UBGP-C17 Ukrainian Border Guard Playbook - Chapter 17: What to do when you cannot find an answer in this book.

He looked at me and went for the next best thing he could think of, "Gastinyetsa?"

He wanted to know the name of a hotel where I would stay. That wouldn't help us here. I wasn't staying in a hotel. I looked over my shoulder at my entourage of patient pensioners.

So I said, "Nye gastinyetsa. ya zhevu vapartment" [Roughly: No hotel-I live in an apartment].

Again, an IVRS + UBGP-C17 search and, "address?"

I gave him my nevyesta's (fiance's) address in Russian and he seemed satisfied. He looked at my passport, page by page as if to show that he did have some work to do and he was official. He found the page loaded with Ukraine stamps and demonstrated his intellectual prowess, "This is not your first time to Ukraine?"

"Nyet."

He looked at me, paused, grabbed his power stick (passport stamp), stamped my passport and handed it to me with out a word. I took the passport and me and my crew headed into the sauna (terminal) where my lady was waiting for me. She smiled when she saw me and then even more when she saw my troop of pensioners each carrying one bag--all of which had rollers and an extendable handle.

Skipping, skipping, skipping, 20 UAH later (to my entourage) all three bags and my carry on and me and my lady are in a taxi headed for home.

Now--fast forward to June this year (2012) and I'm leaving Ukraine temporarily.

I arrive at DOk and the new terminal looks something like a rough copy paste of SJC (San Jose International Airport) near San Francisco. Wow! In Ukraine!

I go into the huge (nicely air conditioned) terminal and head upstairs (automatically actuated escalators even!) to the international departures gate. There is no check in for Turkish Airlines to Istanbul. Hmmm. Some 50+ check in booths, two of which are operational now, and nothing for Turkish Airways.

So I foolishly head upstairs to the third level (international gates and security) where I learn that my flight departs from the old terminal. Kanyeshna [of course].

I hike over there, out in the hot June sun and into the hot June old terminal sauna. Two hours, and three liters of sweat later, I'm on board my plane. But I'm skipping ahead again. The US passport has some advantages when you get off the beaten path. At security I was waved through with my belt and shoes on (!) while RU speaking people are held and talked to for a few minutes so that the guard can demonstrate he is important.

At the final gate the very serious guard (again, redundant) looked through my passport and stumbled when he ran into my marriage to a UA woman stamp and the OVIR six month visa stamp. He looked at my 23 heads and paused. Then he stood up and went out of his booth to a director type of border guard. They both came back into his booth and looked at my passport together (it's official UA law that all border guards must only look at and discuss passports inside of guard booths). The director held my passport open and looked at me with surprise, "You have a marriage in Ukraine?"

"Da," I smiled.

He smiled.

We both smiled. Gosh we're buddies now! :)

He handed my passport back to the first guard and told him something in RU, about how he really should have read BOTH textbooks when he studied to be a guard.

Guard One stamped my passport and handed it to me. And in about an hour I was on my plane to Istanbul and then Moldova (where I went to get my new Visa to live in Ukraine--more on that in another post!)

Skipping, skipping, skipping...

Now I'm returning to DOK and our plane stops near the new (AIR CONDITIONED) terminal.

I'd made a friend on the plane and here and I chatted as we got in line at one of the many security booths in the new (again, AIR CONDITIONED) terminal. I will not even mention that she was a beautiful and kind (albeit serious) Ukrainian woman. I'm just not going to say that. It's irrelevant, and besides I'm married.

Fast forward and I'm standing at the guard booth and the guard is cheerful. OMG I'm in a lucid dream! The guard smiled softly as I handed him my passport. He looked at my several Ukraine pages and saw my fresh new visa. He smiled, stamped the visa, handed me my passport and happily said, "Welcome to Ukraine."

WTF?

I'm in the twilight zone--not Ukraine. Apparently with the Euro football contest the airport terminal wasn't the only new thing in Ukraine! I'm not saying that you'll get a warm welcome at other UA airports--but the Euro event has changed the face of UA border control in DOK!

I shared a taxi with my new friend and then it dropped me off at our apartment where I type this to you after some 15 hours of sleep, recovering from my journey :)

That's all for now.

See you in the funny papers,

Christopher

Ps The photos are inside of the new DOK terminal.
Christopher
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Offline JayH

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2012, 04:34:40 AM »

 He looked at my passport, page by page as if to show that he did have some work to do and he was official. He found the page loaded with Ukraine stamps and demonstrated his intellectual prowess, "This is not your first time to Ukraine?"

My passport is filled with Ukraine visa and entry & exit stamps.They seem to thumb through and see this now and stop asking questions!!
Following your story with great interest.

Offline soyoukan

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2012, 05:09:23 AM »
thanks for that. i was laughing so much, my ribs hurt!  :)


Offline TonynUkraine

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 12:07:59 AM »
My first arrival to Ukraine was through that fine old DOK terminal last July. I thought back fondly to the 14 vodka and cranberry juices plus the xanax tablet I had consumed the night before on crossing the Atlantic. Truthfully, I wanted another vodka badly now.  I was certain that I had arrived in some sort of special  mid 1950s version of the twilight zone. I kept looking around expecting to see Rod Serling come from some dark alcove in his plaid jacket and announce the arrival of an unwitting American tourist, and stating maybe I should have went to Jamaica instead.
"Nobody will give you anything you haven't earned, and apparently I've earned my knocks!"

Offline anotheropus

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2012, 12:55:01 AM »
Hello my friends,

JayH - It is funny how they look at us when we've got a few stamps. I've been in and out about nine times and I've noticed that generally non-UA passports get much better treatment. I once made the mistake of thinking I was cool because I have a leather, Ukraine passport wallet. I slammed my two cognacs at KBP departures when they opened the gate for boarding (dissolved a tiny lil' diazepam--which is de riguer for me and Atlantic crossings), After more than seven hour's waiting at KBP, after we boarded our plane, taxied and had our flight cancelled, I noticed it was only me and all the Ukrainians from the c

soyoukan - Thanks for the compliment! I like to write fiction and I'm discovering it's fun to try and write humor. Life is too serious, some people are too serious [moderator M], and we've all got to learn how to laugh every chance we get. So I'll occasionally share some funny experiences--even if they're only funny to non-FSU people.

TonynUkraine - I'm also a fan of substance assistance on flights that last 10+ hours. My preference is a low dose diazepam cognac float. I don't like to fly (even though I've "enjoyed" (survived) some 100 odd flights in civil and military aircraft). I'm not afraid to crash and burn--it happens. But I'd like to not be completely aware if it happens! :) And yeah, when you first see a Soviet era airport up close you feel like you've gone into the Twilight Zone! I agree. You see so many places in cities here where you could film a 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and even 90's street scene, bus stop scene or rail station scene--and other than clothing, and the occasional modern car or two, you could set a movie in a period piece without any work at all. Yes, the FSU is the Twilight Zone.

It's also sad here, when I look around the cities and I see the low standards of Soviet construction (materials, labor and the end results) and infrastructure development, 50 years of deferred maintenance, and oligarchs, millionaires and their politicians, not re-investing in their countries. I do not see a future for the once (perceived) mighty USSR with the above issues combined with declining education, a universal brain drain as professionals get out when they can, and the ubiquitous corruption at every level preventing external investment. The people in power create their own problems here. But it's okay; it won't affect them. They'll fly away in private jets to their London penthouses.

When China and India take the economic lead in GDP and middle class consumption this decade, the US and EU will not even be close seconds. And as China invests in Africa in exchange for her resources, I don't see where the FSU states will fit on the hierarchy of contribution and consumption in the next decade. I can only see the FSU falling behind into a second world status in production. I feel the deepest pain for the people who lost generations and hope, and now hand a limited future to the next generations here.

The US academic theorists who embrace Marxism, socialism and communism should live here and see the results of it all and spend some time talking with the people. EVERYONE here talks about how bad it was, and then how things really went to hell in the early 90's. I teach English online and I have students who are professionals in UA and RU, who all grew up in the Soviet system. I wish I'd been taping every class this last year--what I've learned would open some eyes and minds.

Jeez, and I'm not even drinking now...

I'll share some photos:

- A hospital lobby in Donetsk.
- A "modern" fire truck in Gorlivka.
- A kindergarten seen through above the ground natural gas piping (it's really above ground everywhere outside of the main cities).
- A 40 year old water heating building in front of a 30 year old apartment building. Note: the hot water in many Soviet cities was pumped from a centralized location to the living and working buildings. In many cities you can still see huge pipes, wrapped in insulation, running above ground along the streets.
- A 40 year old building entry and walk way.
- A once important Soviet office building.

Christopher
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Offline Larry

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2012, 07:15:56 AM »
Quote
The US academic theorists who embrace Marxism, socialism and communism should live here and see the results of it all and spend some time talking with the people.

It's pleasant to advocate communism from the relative comfort of the faculty lounge at a university, then stop by the Whole Foods store on the way home to pick up that night's dinner. It's not nearly as pleasant to have to live in a communist country, waiting in line for food.

Quote
I wish I'd been taping every class this last year--what I've learned would open some eyes and minds.

I think most of us would love to hear what your students said about life in Ukraine.

Offline JayH

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2012, 07:23:56 PM »
Definately interested to hear. Ukraine future is a topic that comes up repeatedly in talking with almost everyone in Ukraine.

Offline anotheropus

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2012, 01:19:03 PM »
Hello my friends,

Most of my students are from RU. 90% of my students are early and mid-career professionals, including people in law, banking, technology and aviation. So I get a diverse perspective. And I'm lucky, I feel that my students and I become very close and I believe I can literally count all of them as friends--and a few as close friends.

Because of our open friendship, in almost all of our classes, after homework review and book work, we engage in discussions, improv dialogues and even in friendly, yet sometimes spirited debates. We all agree that any topics are open and we are honest, direct and tactful about everything. We discuss almost all of the taboos including politics and religion.

A favorite topic revolves around the emergence of China as the next GDP and world consumption leader. China is expected to pass the US and EU in consumption around 2016. They're about third in world consumption now (behind #1 EU, and #2 US). As the Chinese middle class grows, and then the Indian middle class follows, we'll see literally everything begin to change in the world. Regardless of where you stand on any of these topics--things will begin to change dramatically!

Some of the topics I write for our debates and discussions:

The US today represents 25% of the world's consumption and 21% of the annual refined petroleum consumption.

When China (and eventually India) have the largest middle classes in the world, the largest standing armies in the world, and when they control the 80/20 (or 65/35) of the world's production, consumption and banking, think about how these things will change:

1. Legislation in the US ("legalized corruption")

2. US Internal Extremism (remember our preferred isolationist position and consider it's new future in globalization)

3. Terrorism - When the US is no longer allowed to manufacture war for profit, because China will not allow it... who will be the target of terrorism?

4. Israel - A loaded term with a different future when the US is not the big boy.

5. Favored Nation Trade Status - What happens when the US debt ration prevents itself from gaining favored nation trading status FROM China? Remember China took a huge bath with investments in the US mortgage market and then again with US speculation on crack this last decade.

6. Tourism - Dubai's leader was smart enough to see that they needed to shift their economy before their oil reserves ran out. What will the US offer the world now that we do produce anything? Our national parks have standing room only during the tourist seasons, and our cities will always seem interesting to others, but what can the US really offer the world?

7. Education is one answer today... but almost 200,000 Chinese students attend US universities while fewer than 10,000 US citizens are documented to be in Chinese universities. China has not sat still for the last 30 years watching US universities turn out amazing students into the professional world--they're going to take the lead in University education one day also.

8.Intellectual Property - THAT is a humorous subject for my RU speaking students. Imagine a world where the largest consumers do not respect intl. intellectual property laws. Here in Ukraine I already see many vehicles that LOOK like Jeep Cherokees and Toyota 4Runners at the first glance. At second glance I'm always amazed that China can copy paste these replicas and sell them!

9. US Immigration Law - Today most students from other countries visit the US for education and then tend to leave. How will that change when tomorrow the US legislative economic system begins to lean towards increasing immigration from over-represented countries? The US will see CII Chinese Indian Interests immigration increase and with it these new Americans will bring sweeping cultural changes to the US.

10. The War Economy - The US has dismissed Eisenhower's warnings against a standing army and the military industrial complex he warned us of also. Politicians, the so called liberal press ("embedded press"--give me a break), and the massive US military production and supply machine are all in bed to help us kill our kids in foreign lands in the name of freedom. How long do you think China will take before it copy pastes this US model? And remember-they don't have our constitution and first amendment. Chinese weapons manufacturing and world wide use will make Boeing, Lockheed, GE, Douglas, et al seem like little pikers!

11. US Natural Resources - How long until we see the US tapping it's own fossil fuel in every corner!?

12. The New World Order - OF COURSE the US and EU wanted to establish a new world order and a "one world government" before China made the US and EU absolutely irrelevant.

13. The FSU - This is a big one. This gets hot, even while we are civil in our discussions. The bulk of the FSU is eroding and deteriorating. The Soviets put new paint on every old boat (metaphorically referring to EVERYTHING over here). The buildings, roads, water, electricity--just about everything was subject to deferred maintenance once the FSU tried to copy paste the Space Shuttle with their wonderful Buran, and tried to beat the US in equation of buying bullets and butter. Outside of the city centers everything here has more potholes than road. Every concrete building, lamp post and sidewalk has super exposed rebar reinforcement. Anywhere you go here you observe the results of complete deferred maintenance on the lowest standards of concrete construction. Ask anyone over here about the Krushev era buildings named for him. EVERYTHING was built to the lowest standards to barely accommodate a person or family, or business, or school [ALL RU people know that schools close because of snow just as they do in the US--but here they close because of inadequate heating in the classrooms and universities]. The FSU infrastructure  is absolutely antiquated and inadequate, and it's not being upgraded. The Soviet education system was remarkable, and even though it was to linear and categorized (no such thing as "elective" courses), it produced an astonishingly high level of literacy and white and blue collar production and industry workers--but that system is gone. Ask ANY FSU person and they'll tell you that the education from K to 11, and in the universities is empty compared to the Soviet system. The oligarchs rape the FSU and do not reinvest in it. Banking, insurance, and judicial and legislative corruption are so ubiquitous in the FSU that it's considered business as usual. The wealthy leave as soon as they can. The brains leave as soon as they can. All of this points to how far the FSU will slide down on the totem pole after China and India push the EU and US down. Where does the FSU fit in the Chinese New World Order? Go on Google and take a gander at Chinese investment in Africa. Look at the new cities and highways they build. Ukraine and Russia have so much resource abundance--but the Chinese won't invest here until the politics, US backed banks and the legislative system become more open and less corrupted.

And then there are the things my students surprise me with...

For me I'm saddened living in Ukraine. I told a UA acquaintance that I saw UA as a land of pure potential just waiting to take off. He told me a friend of his from UK said the exact same thing to him--TEN YEARS AGO. I was stunned and then saddened again when he told me this same friend visited him in DOK during 2011--and repeated the same thing to him.

Yes, Ukraine is a land of perennial potential, but with the crumbling infrastructure, deferred maintenance and future dearth, all the wonderful people, dark rich soils and apparent potential of this amazing large country will fade away.

My wife speaks UA, RU and EN. She, like others laugh that UA was selected as the official language of UA. All documents must be translated into this unused language. Theaters show movies in UA. Nobody uses UA. Imagine what a great country this could have been if the powers that be would have made the painful choice to declare English the official language when UA became independent. UA would be one of China's great partners now and UA would have amazing metropolises, highways, roads and jobs--and a real middle class of some size. And the sad thing is that the political powers and the oligarchs would have been even richer from the decision.

Okay, I'll delete all of that and pretend I never thought about it. My students and I have really interesting discussions and it forges more and more synaptic connections I never could have had at home in the US.

Ciao4now my friends,

Christopher
Christopher
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Offline JayH

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Re: DOK Donetsk Airport
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2012, 07:12:51 PM »

Yes, Ukraine is a land of perennial potential, but with the crumbling infrastructure, deferred maintenance and future dearth, all the wonderful people, dark rich soils and apparent potential of this amazing large country will fade away.

My wife speaks UA, RU and EN. She, like others laugh that UA was selected as the official language of UA. All documents must be translated into this unused language. Theaters show movies in UA. Nobody uses UA. Imagine what a great country this could have been if the powers that be would have made the painful choice to declare English the official language when UA became independent. UA would be one of China's great partners now and UA would have amazing metropolises, highways, roads and jobs--and a real middle class of some size. And the sad thing is that the political powers and the oligarchs would have been even richer from the decision.


The potential keeps hitting you the longer you are there.
You said "English" in above quote as official language?Did you mean Russian?
I agree that more widely spoken language would be prefferred - but it is not the official language that holds back progress.


 

 

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