Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A little bit of this... and that.

Stamp... and it's official.
Several months ago we girls decided it would be a good thing to get a flugraphia, a simple chest x-ray that tells if you have TB or not. Of course, none of us thought we had TB, we just knew the importance of the document saying we didn't have TB. Denyce and I were hoping to get pregnant in the next year and Lucy went ahead and did one as well since she was with us and showing us the way to the clinic. Without this document, you aren't allowed to go swimming in certain gyms here and if you're pregnant or in need of hospitalization, they have the right to put you in the room with other patients who are infected with TB. Lucy's old neighbor was a nurse and explained to Lucy where to go to get it all taken care of. It was such an interesting, yet such a typical Ukrainian experience, I thought I'd share it with you. First we went to the hospital to pay for the exam. We had to wait in line for the elevator and it was basically whoever jumps in first, but only 4 people were allowed at a time. (Yes, there was a nurse there who was yelling insistently "Only 4 people!" when more than 4 would try to get in.) From there we went to a desk where we told the receptionist what we wanted, and we paid for it. It cost us each $2.25! From there we left and went to another building down the street and found the waiting room. Flugraphias are common here, so there were a at least 10 people ahead of us. Most lines here in Ukraine work the same: you show up, ask who's last, and then say, "I'm after you." Then you have to listen for the next person who comes in to be able to say you're last and merely keep up with the person who you said you'd be after. This system works so that you can leave and come back and still have the same place in line. So, we declared our place and waited. They took 5 of us at a time into the back room where we showed them our ID and the lady behind the desk wrote down our names, address, and telephone in a regular notebook. (Of course, no computers anywhere.) From there we had our x-ray. That was a funny experience with our limited Russian. We had to remove our jewelry (which we understood since she pointed to them) and Denyce had to move her hair out of the way. I was first and Lucy had told me beforehand that we'd have to hold our breath during the x-ray, so when she spouted off something in Russian and walked away, I just assumed it was "hold your breath." So, I did... and then a couple seconds later started thinking "For how long?" and "Did she mean now?" Thankfully it didn't take long to hear a click and then hear her tell me we were done. :) Then they gave us a slip of paper with our name and the x-ray number and told us to come back the next day. The next day, we showed up, gave her our paper, she stamped it and that was it. The funny thing was the paper... I'm posting a picture here.
It's torn out of a simple notebook with my name written in Russian and a stamp. After we left, we all looked at the stamp and it contained the word "вeз" which means "without" so we all figured we all tested negative. We all laugh over the fact that stamps make everything official here, and this is prime example of how this simple paper is official, all because of that stamp and our names scribbled on top.

A few things from a Russian History Book
I'm about half-way done with this book a friend of mine from the states sent me. The book, Land of the Firebird, the Beauty of Old Russia by Suxanne Massie is great, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Here are a few things I've enjoyed learning about this culture that I thought I'd share with you. These are just too accurate not to share and some are really quite interesting:
  • The Prince of Kiev, Vladimir, back in 987, was responsible for bringing the Eastern Orthodox religion into Russia's lives. He apparently was seeking something that would suite his people and their tastes. In the process, he rejected numerous religions including the Moslem religion because Russians wouldn't be allowed to drink and the Jewish religion because they were cursed to wander the world. Finally he decided to adopt what he found in Greece because it's beauty was captivating. If you've been inside an older Orthodox cathedral, you will agree they certainly are beautiful.
  • The church fathers who helped create the calendar for Russia, based their dates on when they assumed creation happened. They "argued persuasively that the world had to have been created in September, or else how could there have been apples to tempt Eve?". David and I got a good kick out of that one. From their work, our calendar over here has different dates for many Christian holidays including Easter and Christmas.
  • The early Tsars had their own terem, or house of women. These women went to great lengths to beautify themselves for the tsar and were not usually seen by the outside world. I found it really interesting that they thought blackening their teeth with mercury made them more beautiful as well as blackening the whites of their eyes. The whites of their eyes! If they got sick, the doctor was allowed to come into a darkened room and diagnosis what was wrong by feeling their pulse on their wrist which was covered with a cloth.
  • Mikhail Lomonosov wrote this of the Russian language that really does a great job explaining the complexity of Russian: it is "the splendor of Spanish, the vivacity of French, the strength of German, the tenderness of Italian and the power of expression of Latin and Greek." Yep, that about sums it all up!