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Pole to Pole

Day 35: Kiev to Narodichi to Kiev

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole'There was a panic here,' Vadim explains, unnecessarily.

We drive back through Narodichi, where, as in Novoye Sharno, Nozdrishche and over forty villages in this region alone, the grass will soon grow around doors that will never be opened again, and anyone who comes here will be informed of the dangers and the risks which those who lived here were not told about until it was too late.

Back in Kiev, two and a half hours later, I'm struck once again by the spruceness of the city compared with Leningrad or Novgorod. A Russian, writing in the Insight Guide, relates even this to Chernobyl. 'The terrible effects of the tragedy made many people, in Kiev and other towns, take another look at themselves. Kiev is cleaner, and not merely because the streets are watered twice a day now; once the people were shown the frailty of human existence, they changed.'

We end the day in a brick-vaulted cellar in the Andreevsky Spusk, a Montmartre-like street full of cafÚs and shops and predominantly student meeting-places. The food is the best we've had in the Soviet Union - Armenian-Georgian cooking - kebabs, rabbit stew, aubergine and onion salad. An excellent jazz trio of bass, fiddle and piano plays local music and well-served-up classics like 'Take the A-Train'. Vodka flows freely. It is one of the best evenings, and in a sense, the only way of dealing with what we have seen today.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 35
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Kiev
  • Book page no: 80

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