The mournful guitar of Mark Knoffler echoed in the marble hall as I strolled among the bundled up patrons and fake trees of the Caravan shopping center. It almost felt like home...McDonalds in the food court, plenty of jewelry shops, overpriced shops like Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, and Adidas, and teenagers laughing and generally screwing around (two young guys sat in the food court connecting about 30 straws into one long pipe for no apparent reason).
Today I finally tackled the metro, heading up six stops from my local station to two mega malls, at least they seem that way in Ukraine, on the north side of town. I needed clothes--three t-shirts, three button-downs, and a couple of sweaters don't really cover the needs of a modern American man--and I was trying to find the last pieces of the XBox puzzle so that I could play online with my son. I succeeded on both counts, finding several shirts, sweaters, and t-shirts at discount prices while also managing to spend way too much money on a wireless connector for my new XBox.
And it felt good to realize that Ukraine does offer frozen pizzas, more than one kind of white-ish cheese (although no cheddar, nor any kind of nacho chip), and even has a pseudo-Apple store (although without the headphones I am desperately missing, after losing mine sometime within the first few days of my arrival).
But it wasn't all familiar. Each mall was anchored by a super-Wal-Mart sort of grocery store, and while the aisles were huge, the selection sometimes baffled me. Here's a photo of one of the complete aisles dedicated to vodka!
But much of it felt very comfortable, like the esclators and marble and fountains.
I'll be back, I'm sure, if only to feel modestly like I am not in a completely foreign world.