Summer is here and in large stores there is a seasonal display of goods, opaquely hinting that one should not stay at home – it is time for picnics, drinking beer and swimming in the sea. Shashlik, like sushi and pizza, just turned into some kind of national product. You can order its delivery or even ask taxi drivers to fetch it. You can order shashlik for take out, there are "ShashlikHouse" restaurants, not to mention network of "MeatStores" in Luhansk.
When the crowds of Russian military began to appear here (of course, hiding where they came from and who they were), they languished in the gray shelled Luhansk. It was in 2014. People starved without salaries and normal nutrition, were paralyzed by fear and did not understand what would happen next. Russians, having housed in dormitories and former banks, were homesick and wanted normal food. Taxi drivers were happy to work for those wealthy customers, who ordered food right from the cafés and restaurants in the evening. They were not recommended to walk around the city because the accent and manner of speech gave them out immediately. So the taxi drivers were helping them to celebrate right in their housing. Against the background of local residents with hungry eyes, who did not get salaries for 6 months, such luxuries were a feast during the plague.
I was once told by a visiting "commander" what he ate and where: "I ate sushi, pizza, your local salo... But for some reason, they sell it to me twice more expensive than for locals. Why so?" For them, visitors, we were an exotic country, in which it was necessary to try and see everything, at least from the car. When I talked to one of them in March 2015, I caught myself on the thought that I was hurt for my city. This young "commander" who was still in his twenties, looked around (every city looks gloomy after winter) and said in a lengthy way: "It is boring here". And I really wanted to say, to argue that my city became like that after the summer of 2014 and did not have time to recover from everything.
The rains have not washed away the traces of the fires, people did not have time to glaze the broken windows, traces of hits to the walls of the houses were still fresh... I would like to say that my city has its own charm of a cozy and peaceful small industrial town which special air and special people, who know each other by name... But my objections were like a dispute between the deaf and the blind. The young "commander" was bored here, he counted the days till when they will be taken out at night back to Russia, and his life gets back to normal, adding him the working record of participation in the fighting in a trouble spot – my once quiet and cozy industrial city.
Shashlik, pizza and sushi are sold till now and, probably, will always be sold. Because you can walk in ragged shoes, but continue to eat pizza and order sushi. This is a local tendency, this is the general mood of the youth. This is a sign of well-being. And it is just delicious.
But the seasonal displays of inflatable beach balls and floating air mattresses are an obvious trick over children and parents. We already know that it is time to think about the sea and go to the beach. We know this and want to go to the vacation, but the Crimea is very expensive, Russia is also expensive and not close, and local lakes and rivers are unsafe. And there are local pools for children, which are not cheap as well – Dynamo for $1.25/45 minutes per class and $2.5/45 minutes in private pools. And enterprising owners of pools train children in pools in the morning, and rent them with saunas to cheerful companies in the evening. And everyone is happy: the owners of pools with money, the children – with the illusion of sea, and cheerful companies – that they have it just as well as somewhere else, and the main thing is diversity.
The sea is a quite pressing issue. Everyone who is going to vacation has his own history of getting there. If only you could somehow move like in a time machine or something like that, bypassing borders, customs and hours of waiting.
It takes a 24-hour day or more to go to the Crimea. And with a child? And with a small child? Yes, in the bus, yes, in the heat, yes, for 4 or more hours of waiting at the borders?.. You can go to Abkhazia, to the Krasnodar Krai. The same borders and queues, only closer. And at the same price as the Crimea, - rather expensive.
The local trade union offers $11.6 per day only for accommodation in the Crimea. Plus $85 for the road. So how much does one person need to have a really modest rest in the Crimea on such a trade union ticket? About $500? And if there are two people – it is already $1000. And the question arises, where this family has such money from, if the salary of an employed member of the trade union is only $85-165 per month? And $165 is a very good salary by the local standards. This $1000 for child's healthcare is needed to be collected for six months. In other words, it is not possible to have such a rest with leave allowance – it is too expensive and unrealistic.
The routes of travel to the sea astonish as well. Enterprising comrades mastered the Russian railway, having found a city with railway station nearest to Luhansk. So, you need to get to this city in order to catch the train in time, which means you need to take into account all the force majeures and leave for a day or at least half a day earlier, if you have to stand on the border… And if you go earlier for a day where will you spend the night? And if you do not have to wait at the border, you have to wait for the train at the railway station for half a day? And I want to ask again – is such a rest needed for a child when he/she is taken to the Luhansk bus station, then to the nearest Russian city by bus, then by train, again by bus or taxi to the place of resort…
My friends went to the Crimea for 36 hours. They say it was hard, but the sea was worth it. They spent these 36 hours of traveling singing, reading and playing games with the child. But they have a quiet girl who could sit out so much in the heat in a regular bus conditions. And then back just as much… You need another rest after such a rest.
You can hear now quiet often about what good times were earlier, when we got on the Luhansk-Simferopol train and were in the Crimea the next day at lunch. And we were still dissatisfied with something at that time – it was long, hot and hard… And now everything is just right – Vosmiorka Lake within the Luhansk limits for $0.8 per day without a summerhouse for those who dream of the sea, but does not have $1000 for a modest rest for two. And tubes-sleeves-balls, shashlik and pizza to help creating the illusion of a full dive into the vacation happiness.
Olha Kucher, Luhansk, for OstroV