A little further on, there is a French café with world-class croissants that would rival any made in Paris or Montreal. A large, pink snail-on-wheels houses a takeout coffee/tea operation next to the sidewalk.
The ideology of swinging between the extremes is baked into the psychology of the Ukrainian people, and everything here seems to function in the ways of the banya.
The juxtapositions in Kyiv are manifold: people are either really hard on each other or very kind, the architecture beautiful or ugly, the smiles are wide and real, or faces rigid like stone, the women hot and the guys not (some exceptions here), people drink a lot or a little, service is excellent or terrible, people just get by or are rich (small middle class), the weather is post-apocalyptically dark or pleasantly uplifting….
When I looked at Google Maps, the right bank was on the left and the left bank was on the right.
But when living in a foreign land, the gestation process takes its natural course; the answers come when the time is right from someone, or from a realization.
I saw layers of stories beneath the rocks—of war, of blood, of euphoria, of joy, of architecture, of breakups, of love—each force never lasting long enough to create a one-dimensional identity, but long enough to make the city into what it is today.