Kharkiv, a.k.a. Charkov (sometimes the differences between Ukrainian and Russian get blurred: years of Soviet domination led to
everyone using Russian rather than Ukrainian; in fact, not everyone speaks Ukrainian) is one of the
largest towns in Ukraine, to the East, c. 500 km from Kiev.
One usually flies (if you’re lucky, you can catch an Austrian Airways direct from Vienna - I find their colour scheme nicer than the
Ukrainian local airline’s...); if the weather is too bad to fly, you take the overnight train (even hardened travellers have been known to
refuse to take the train a second time); if the trains don’t run because of bad weather, you take the car. Which, in winter, takes about 14
hours! A trip like that can turn your hair grey - or make it fall out. The motorway is actually a 2-lane single road (mostly), but in winter this
is reduced to one slightly visible track. Hint: if you can’t fly, don’t bother!
Our job was to establish a Management Consultancy Center from scratch. The project was financed by the EU’s Tacis programme. The KMCI
, as it is now known, still exists and flourishes.
This is some of the staff we employed and trained:
We were simply known as Western Experts:
Apart from staying in privately rented flats, we also got to stay at the hotel: the National, ex-Intourist.
The hotel, from the point of view of comfort, decor and food was, shall we say, an acquired taste? One of the things they
specialised in was a common Eastern European phenomenon: waterproof towels...
Waiting for the driver in the (unheated) lobby...
At least this lucky chap was there in summer - as evidenced by the lightweight apparel. Others, less fortunate, had this
experience at 3 a.m., in winter, at 35 degrees minus! Nothing, but nothing can keep you warm...