I notice the amazing thing that in the course of time – a little more than two years – a lot of things from the category of strange, surprising and incomprehensible become the norm, and just in the same way things that were quite normal two years ago are now perceived as almost complete paradox.
Such a rapid change of morals and values in such a short time is next to impossible to imagine. But, nevertheless, – values, attitudes and views change over time. And sometimes it happens very quickly, like in high-speed shooting in comedy films.
It is still surprising and incomprehensible to me how easy and quick people can abandon their earlier views, maintaining the regalia and titles received in that time.
We accidentally attended a big concert before the war – young soloist of the Luhansk Philharmonic was given the title of Merited Artist of Ukraine. He was young, handsome, full of energy and life... He sang in two languages, praising his land – Luhansk oblast and Ukraine. Of course, it was entirely smoothly. Yesterday I accidentally face him, he sang again – as great as it was at that time. But this time, he was introduced to me as the Merited Artist of the LPR and it was added: "He plays the anthem of the Republic". It was probably not a metaphoric expression at all. He was the Merited Artist of Ukraine and easily became the Merited Artist of the "LPR".
The desire to get rid of the real estate here by those who have left and the desire to buy an apartment here by those who plan their entire lives in Luhansk is surprising to me up to now.
These desires are very similar in their strength – some passionately want to sell their renovated and loved with all their hearts housing here, saying that they do not see any life in Luhansk for themselves, while lamenting that they are sleeping on sagging creaking sofas in other people's apartments without repair... And the others ask the price to expand their housing space using the moment or to purchase a property planned for the children for a long time.
And I would like to ask, both in the first and in the second case, why is there so much confidence that there would be no life (the first) and so much optimism in the fact that everything here would certainly get better (the second) come from?
As if they both live in some disjoint flatnesses – the sellers see just barely Chernobyl, and it seems to the buyers that everything is going to the natural improvement and investments in such major purchases are now the most correct.
What is more, the sellers (often with the furniture and household appliances) really understand then that they cannot buy anything there, where they found the work after leaving from Luhansk, for this money. And the buyers of this accommodation understand clearly that they need to go to work in Moscow or Magadan in order to earn money for repair, furniture or a normal life here…
Is not it so funny how much they have in common? Only it seems to the first that it is nothing to do here, and to the second – that this is the place where all their lives are.
But even this is not strange. The strange thing is that many people have no views at all. What does it mean?
It means that the families were divided solely by the format, where and how it is more profitable and better. The wife and the children are here because their home is here, and the husband is in the territory of the legal Ukraine – working till the length of service, pension to earn it and return to Luhansk in order to live with family on his pension there.
Now his family lives here on his salary. He is not entry here for obvious reasons – he serves in the bodies there, but his family could visit him a couple of times a year – to take the money and gifts on the holidays. Do you think this is nonsense? Nowhere near.
Of course, it would be easier in their case if everything was there in the same way as before – their family would not live separately, but they have been living in this format for two years and will live as much as it needed to wait until the husband's pension without a doubt. And then he would find a job here, keeping out of the public eye that he returned from the officership from the territory of Ukraine, and the family only gain from this. There are a lot of such examples around.
One is prone to choose where it is better for him. And the funniest thing is that everybody around perceives his family with sympathy by the fact that they are forced to live apart. And a measure of this sympathy often results in material and food assistance to his family here from the fact that they cannot live with the husband.
Nonsense for me still is that you need to explain to friends who left the way we live here. Sometimes it looks funny, but more often – sadly. A friend asks me in a blunt manner: "Are you already attached somewhere?" And explains her question: "I watch TV rarely now." Another friend specifies: "Do the trains come to the Crimea from you?" As if being separated we have maintained or established any special transport communication with Russia or the whole world.
A friend astonished me with the question: "Do cafes and supermarkets work there?". And after such questions I would rather refuse to communicate than each time will explain the living conditions here.
No, it is not bad here. This is not Aleppo. But I cannot say that it is good here. Expensiveness, low wages, derisive pensions. The vaunted utility payments are cheap for those who have high income.
The rent for a pensioner living in an apartment in the heating season will be a half of his pension, and the second half is enough for nothing. It is without exaggeration or excessive drama. When pension is 33,69 USD, a little more than a half will go for heating in the winter months. The rest is needed to eat, buy medicine and deal with some force-majeure circumstances.
I cannot imagine how this can be done for 16,84 USD. I do not have enough imagination for it. TV repair via the service center will be: 4,21 USD for a master's call + 9,26 USD for a repair without replacement parts. Boiler cleaning will cost 13,47 USD without repair. 4,21 USD for shoes repair (taps + prevention). Of course, the money is spent on such things not every month, but if we talk about the products (bare essentials) it will be something like this:
1. Novorossiysky bread, 700 grams – 0,27 USD.
2. Baton rifled sliced – 0,20 USD.
3. Donel sunflower oil, 1 liter – 1,08 USD.
4. Homemade cow's milk – 0,76 USD/liter.
5. Cottage cheese, sour cream – 1,85 USD/kilogram.
6. Veal sausage with milk from Luhansk delicacies - 3,57 USD/kilogram.
7. Chicken mince – 2,86 USD/kilogram.
8. Pork and beef mince – 4,72 USD/kilogram.
9. Anchovies (sprats) – 1,68 USD/kilogram.
10. Detergent for dishwashing Gala, 500 ml - 1,09 USD.
After all, I was telling my friend about a new circus program – the Russian State Circus Company performed in the Luhansk circus with remarkable program "The world of animals, the world of friends" on November 12.
The friend stopped me with a question: "How much are the tickets?" "From 3,37 USD to 10,11 USD..." "10,11 USD is the third of my pension. It is incredibly much for me".
And her answer has neither farce nor exaggeration. Very often, pensioners cannot make now even a step aside if it is connected with the money spending. Therefore, a market – the search for cheaper products – is the only entertainment for many. And this is also from the category of nonsenses.
Olha Kucher, Luhansk, for OstroV