How to survive a Hospital Stay
Kiev Night Clubs
Arriving from Borispol airport you need to drive some 40 km into town. Kiev, as you no doubt know, is situated on some gentle hills, on the banks of the river Dniepr. The
surrounding countryside, by contrast, is very flat. Having passed some modern dachas (modest - or not so modest - country houses owned by the better off) the first glimpse of Kiev will be the modern
suburbs. Nothing like in the West: The Plan was to let the bourgeois old buildings decay on purpose, and house people in modern, socialist dwellings. The plan half worked: the old buildings did
decay, but Socialist Man did not quite make it...
Perched on top of said hills you will see the War Memorial (built entirely of titanium, or was it platinum? Or aluminium?). I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the missile was - there
wasn’t an Iraqi weapons purchasing delegation in sight.
Guns and similar war memorabilia feature dominantly in public spaces. The “Great Patriotic War” - apart from being extremely destructive of both lives and
property - was necessary to be kept alive in people’s memories, to show the ugly face of the Western system.
However, the central monastery of Kiev is very well worth a visit. It stretches over many hectares, and is currently being renovated. “Pechersk Lavra”
is one of the few remaining monasteries in
Ukraine (lots of churches etc. were destroyed during Communism). Its main feature: crypts and catacombs filled with princes, famous people and priests. (All dead, of course.
What were you thinking?) There are lots of tiny skeletons in robes on plinths, candles, and far too many visitors. Those of faint heart may find themselves beating a hasty retreat.
You will also find some other nice old stuff:
“The Cossack and the beggar woman” - unfortunately, income disparities here are huge. Generally, the elderly and others living off a pension
will have seen their living standards drop, sometimes shockingly so. Thus the Ukrainians try to make do, either with odd jobs, playing music in the streets, or getting employed by
Western Consultants, or are reduced to beg. A monthly salary of $300-500 will do quite nicely to feed, house and clothe an extended family. Most make much less. Unsurprisingly,
Ukrainian labour will be happy to work illegally in western Europe at rates a Westerner would not even bother to scoff at, and still make more than they could at home. Which leads
to a wholly different debate about the movement of labour...
Fancy a cruise?
The main town looks a bit better than many other ex-Soviet towns, but, as almost anywhere, you have to pick out the nice bits:
They could have tried to do without that great and all-pervasive feature of modern town planning: road works.
The inside of Kiev Central Station looks grand...
... and then you step outside.
Truth be told, there are still some nice old buildings, which, with a little money, could easily be restored to their former glory.
Whereas this is just an old tram.
Fresh milk is available...
... as is bread, served by charming ladies in funny hats (I haven’t yet fully understood why they should
wear the same hats as medical personnel).
If you don’t go for home cooking, you may well wander into the next “Gastronom” for your supplies
(once you get past the queue).
How to survive a hospital stay
By Diana Elliott, Kyiv Post Staff Writer, Kyiv Post, 29 Mar 2001
No matter how healthy you are today, there's always the grim possibility that an accident,
injury or illness could land you in a Ukrainian hospital tomorrow. And foreigners unfamiliar with
the local hospitals may be shocked by some fairly significant differences between the Western
medical establishment and the Ukrainian health care system.
To lessen the shock and prepare accordingly, here are some things to keep in mind just if you wind up in the hospital:
You will likely be in the hospital for longer than you think is necessary or tolerable. Former
Soviet hospitals are notorious for keeping patients for weeks or even months to ensure that
patients are absolutely recovered before they return home. Whereas Western hospitals tend
to discharge patients before the cast is even dry, Ukrainian hospitals expect patients to
remain in the hospital to "rest" even though their symptoms have long since passed.
The good news is that it is fairly easy to escape just by walking out the door if you feel there is no reason for you to stay there.
Don't expect the hospital to provide all your necessities. To say that hospitals are
underfunded is a major understatement. Chances are doctors and nurses who care for you
haven't been paid in a while and general maintenance is lacking.
Many hospitals no longer feed patients or even provide medicine. Families are expected to
bring in those things. And that's not all that's been left off the list. For a comfortable hospital
stay, be prepared to bring more than slippers and a magazine. Other items that are not
provided include toilet paper, soap, shampoo, lotion, tissues, towels and bedclothes.
Even hospitals that do serve meals, don't always hit the four food groups. Arrange to have
someone bring fresh fruit, vegetables, and high-protein foods like nuts, boiled eggs, cheese
and peanut butter. Unless you are not worried about drinking from the tap, arrange to have someone bring plenty of bottled water and juice.
And don't forget utensils and a mug for beverages.
Most hospitals have a pharmacy in the building where you or your family can buy the
medicines that are prescribed. You might also be expected to buy needles and the apparatus for an IV-drip if that is needed.
It is also helpful to bring a mobile phone because most hospital rooms do not come equipped
with telephones. For entertainment, consider getting a Walkman or Discman, plenty of books or magazines and cards or other games.
Unless your Russian or Ukrainian is excellent, non-native speakers should bring a dictionary.
Medical jargon can be difficult to decipher even for the most fluent speakers.
Be prepared to ask questions and bring in a translator if necessary. Chances are Ukrainian
doctors operate much differently than what is the norm in the West. Herbal remedies and non
-traditional methods are common in Ukraine. Remember that you must take responsibility for
your own health. If you feel uncomfortable with a treatment method, don't be afraid to decline - or simply to leave.
[Webmaster: if any of you got apprehensive, check out the CDC warnings
before setting off
into the wild east...]
Taking it off!
By Steven Shaklan, Kyiv Post Staff Writer, Kyiv Post, 25.1.01
Strip "tease." The very phrase implies something hidden, something denied, something
dangling like the proverbial carrot then snatched away. The desired is merely suggested, not granted in all its fullness.
If we accept this definition, then there is very little "teasing" going on in Kyiv's strip clubs.
Strip clubs and the extracurricular activities they suggest abound in major cities worldwide.
But Kyiv strip clubs occupy an unusually prominent place in the cultural landscape. Here they
are not isolated establishments on the shady outskirts of the city, but core features of
popular restaurants, nightclubs, and even bowling alleys. Here they are publicized with glossy
advertisements in major magazines and spotlighted on billboards on major thoroughfares.
Ukrainians are firm believers in the spirit of oslablennya (relaxation). The striptease is not a
voyeuristic endeavor but a socially accepted sideshow that everybody can enjoy. Countless
nightclubs and restaurants feature a modest striptease as part of their standard nightly
entertainment routine. It complements the fire-eater, the contortionist and the clown show.
Kyiv's strip clubs, while admittedly a bit more hard core, nonetheless reflect that casualness.
The patrons are usually arranged about the stage in armchairs. Most places feature full
menus and patrons often order appetizers to accompany their drinks. Women patrons
practically outnumber the men sometimes. Far from feeling like a pervert, you will feel no
more awkward in a Kyiv strip club than you would at a PG-13-rated movie.
The on-stage developments are decidedly not PG-13, however. After gyrating onstage in just
a G-string - and in some cases a birthday suit - a stripper will
take a tour of the room in
search of clients who seem to have appreciated the performance. Finding a welcome customer, she sits down for
some idle chatter and a casual lap dance. They sit, they talk, they eat, they drink and then the negotiations begin. If all goes
well, they disappear to the dark recesses of the back room for an advanced lap dance. The level of advancement depends on
the result of the negotiation, of course.
The prevalence of female patrons may come as a surprise. Alas, most of them are not there looking for love. Rather, they
are they on dates with their boyfriends, who apparently view strip clubs as fashionable dating spots. Nonetheless, the
women often look on with as much interest as the men, studying the dancers and maybe pantomiming moves. The
eyes of many reveal awe for the fotomodel glamour associated with erotic dancing. Others just find the whole thing amusing.
Kyiv strip clubs have their own discrete protocol, which is
reflected in the construction of the clubs themselves. They are usually tiny rooms with one
small stage and the obligatory pole, as opposed to the large sprawling stages that are popular
in high-end clubs in the West. If the performance space is small, it is because the on-stage
dancing itself is almost incidental, a prelude to the real money-making enterprises: the lap dance and the private dance.
On-stage dancing ranges from the highly erotic to the downright absurd. At places like Evrika
and Bingo, the dancers swing gracefully to Russian pop or grind suggestively to gangster rap.
At Illusion, on the other hand, you'll find a festival of tacky theatrics including a Middle Eastern
belly-dance, a be-suited woman stripping to Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," and a
parade of women in nighties bouncing around to "Jingle Bells." Remarked one patron, "This is
like something you would experience with your Prom date in your parents' basement."
Most clubs feature back rooms or private spaces for one-on-one dances. Club Split, where
the furnishings in the main room have all the comfort of office furniture, there are cozier
areas screened off with red velvet drapes. Evrika's back room is spare and red-lit room with a
bench seat and a sliding curtain. Bingo's is furnished with a plush leather couch and a one-way
mirror, so patrons can view the dancing beyond.
The level of services offered in the back rooms varies not so much with the venue as with
the young lady. This contrasts with the general practice in the United States, where high
-profile clubs have strict, venue-specific constraints on available services. When responding to
a misplaced hand, one stripper in a prominent Manhattan club responded, "You gotta go out
to Queens if you want that sort of thing, Honey."
She might have said you gotta fly out to Kyiv.
There is no set menu of services in Kyiv strip clubs. Whereas one woman will agree to kissing,
fondling and even heavy petting, for the same fee another will allow only mild fondling.
According to a number of veteran local strip-bar patrons, therein lies the challenge.
Entry fees and drinks at Kyiv strip clubs are paid in hryvnas, while lap and private dances are
tallied in dollars, although hryvnas are accepted at lousy exchange rates ($25 is equivalent to
Hr 200 at Bingo!!). The fee system for private dances varies from venue to venue. Some
places charge a flat fee. Evrika charges $30 per private lap dance, Bingo asks $25 fee for a
one-song lap dance. Split charges $20 for a topless dance and $40 for a top-and-bottomless dance.
By and large, the dancers do not receive salaries, but do receive a portion of what they take
in from private dances and kickbacks from the highly priced, largely alcohol-free drinks they squeeze out of patrons.
One would expect clubs such as these to be bristling with large, beefy bouncers, as they are
in the States. The combination of alcohol and sexual promises is a recipe for conflict.
However, there is a conspicuous absence of visible security and the net result is a sort of
casual, permissive feel to back-room interaction. But be assured that there are bruisers waiting in the wings if you get too frisky.
In most clubs, there are few provisions on the premises for anything beyond an active private
dance. However, it is well known that most dancers will agree to off-site meetings (not to
play checkers, mind you) for a substantial fee. Asked if she "dated" outside of work, one
dancer replied with a phone number and instructions to "call after four." Whether she meant
four a.m. or four p.m. was never determined.
And then there's Resttown. If there were a Ministry of Transparent Euphemisms, this would
surely be its finest product. The striptease at Resttown is only relevant to the activities there
in that it serves as a kind of sexual showroom where patrons may pick and choose. Even the
private dances, offered in curtained rooms at the back, are secondary to the main event - the "resting rooms."
Located on the industrial end of Prospekt Peremohy, Resttown is an enormous complex. To
enter the premises and climb the winding mirrored stairwell to the unusually large strip room
featuring a dance floor and a sea of armchairs and couches costs Hr 30.
Most patrons reserve a room in advance, and thus the number of visible patrons in the club is
meager. They are simply there to motion to a stripper, conduct a quiet conversation in which
they agree to spend some time in the sauna, and then proceed to the rooms. You can use
your imagination to draw conclusions about what happens there.
One Resttown employee responded with surprise when told that "places like this" do not
openly conduct business operations in the United States. In Kyiv, where you can be detained
for wearing a blue tie with a black jacket on alternate Tuesdays, the search for sexual
pleasure will take you as far as your will and your wallet will allow.
The irony was not lost on her.
Venues with dedicated female strip clubs:
Bingo. 112 Peremohy. Tel: 444-2555. Open 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Entry Hr 55.
Cabaret. 12 Hospitalna. Tel: 294-3006. 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Entry Hr 100.
Chicago. 3 Raisy Okypnoyi. Tel: 517-4148. 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Entry Hr 70.
Evrika. 30a Lesi Ukrainky. Tel: 295-9081. 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Entry Hr 20.
Illusion. 42/80 Saksahanskoho. Tel: 246-6276. 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Entry Hr 50.
Joss. 2 Raisy Okypnoyi. Tel: 552-5091. 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Entry Hr 50.
Nayada. 105 Saksahanskoho. Tel: 227-5387. 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Entry Hr 30 per 45 minutes.
Resttown. 3 Zheleznyaka. Tel: 444-8150. Open 24 hours. Entry Hr 30.
Split. 6 Prorizna. Tel: 228-5877. 9 p.m to 6 a.m. Entry Hr 20.
DISCLAIMER: none of these above mentioned establishments would, of course, be frequented
by yours truly or any of my colleagues.