A Disappointing Independence Day

Peace Corps / Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Yesterday, August 24, was the Ukrainian Day of Independence. I had looked forward to it because there are celebrations in the center for holidays. At celebrations, there’s almost always shashlik. Shashlik is delicious. It’s grilled meat but not like grilled meat I’ve had in America. I wish I knew how it is different, but I don’t.

Anyway, Lyuda and I walked into the center in the mid-afternoon to get my helping of shashlik. I had looked forward to it because I have it only when there are celebrations. For weeks my mouth had watered at the thought of it. I was prepared to spend up to 100 UAH on it (usually I spend between 40 and 50 UAH).

Then we got to the park, which was the last obstacle on the way to the center where the delicious shashlik would be. Lyuda and I both commented on different aspects of the park that made us think there was no celebration and thus no shashlik. I mentioned how few people were around, she mentioned how there weren’t the usual rides and games for children set up. The¬†Ferris¬†wheel, however, was operating unlike usual and we took that as a good sign.

As we slowly came to the other side of the park, I started getting worried. I didn’t see people. I didn’t see tents and food vendors. The worst was when I realized that the street hadn’t been closed off like it usually was to protect the pedestrians crossing the street.

That’s when it hit me. There was no celebration of Independence. There was no shashlik.

Lyuda had a couple of speculations why there was nothing. She guess that maybe they were saving their money for the Day of Konotop celebration coming up the first week in September. She guess that maybe there was some small celebration later in the evening (which there supposedly was but we didn’t see it). I guess that because Konotop is so close to Russia, the people here still have the mindset of the Soviet Union, the older ones at least. They didn’t see the point in celebrating independence because, as the older ones will tell you, everything was better in the Soviet Union.

What the real reason was, I’ll never know.

All of this didn’t stop me from having my shashlik. I’d been set on eating it yesterday so I went o the store and bought some of the raw, seasoned meat and took it home to cook. I baked it in my oven, so it didn’t have the same taste to it but it was still delicious.

Shashlik and potatoes
Shashlik and potatoes. Mayonnaise and ketchup for dipping of both.

Now, I’m waiting for the Day of Konotop. If there’s something going on in the center, there better be someone selling shashlik. If there’s shashlik, I’m going to eat all of it.


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