Drinking like a Ukrainian

Thirty days of drinking like a Ukrainian.

The very thought is enough to turn my stomach. Thirty days of drinking would be bad enough, but drinking like a Ukrainian? Who knows how this will end. Possibly facedown, in the alley that runs alongside my apartment building, like Sasha. A bald, middle-aged man with a vodka belly which threatens to daily loose its contents all over the pockmarked Ukrainian concrete, Sasha collapses in a heap every Saturday night next to the entryway of my building. Many a Sunday have I awoken in bed to the sound of angry car horns screeching at the sight of his crumpled personage blocking their path. But Sasha only drinks on Saturdays so far as I can tell, as other nights he’s nowhere to be found. Where does the man emerge from those Saturday evenings in such a state? Or, more curiously, what drives him to drink his Saturday nights away? Is he lonely? Is Saturday the weekly anniversary of some terribly tragedy or is the fact that he’s Ukrainian reason enough for him to drink the night away?

Whether tragedy or nationality, I intend to find out. I will immerse myself in this equal parts tragic/comical world the only way I haven’t yet – by drinking myself silly.

Let me state for the record that I am not much of a drinker. You need only ask my friends and relatives to validate this. I drink when the occasion suits it, and in my case, and taste, it rarely does. The challenge is thus: drinking every night for thirty nights like the typical Ukrainian male (stereotype though it may be) and lose all the scruples I have collected over my sheltered Christian upbringing. My liquor of choice will primarily be vodka, i.e. Ukrainian water, though I will not limit myself from consuming other alcoholic beverages. There is no better night to start than tonight, during the 2012 Euro Cup Final, in the Euro host city of Kharkiv, 500 kilometers east of where the drama will play out in Kiev. The next 30 days will see me in various cities and in (we hope) various new predicaments.

My challenge is to experience a state of drunkenness foreign to the rest of us- a state of drunkenness that, just maybe, might be an alternate step toward enlightenment. The challenge laid out before me, I say a prayer for the preservation of my liver – and my dignity.

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  1. >Thirty days of drinking would be bad enough, but drinking like a Ukrainian? Who knows how this will end.

    I know how. It will turn into alcoholism.
    Nobody drinks much alcohol every day. It may be a shot of vodka every evening, and that’s all.


  2. I have to say it’s been remarkable that I haven’t been a reader of “Life in Transit” before now. Your descriptions of “far-sickness” were spot on and think I felt a part of me looking for a checklist of virtues to keep with me while leaving behind the “stuff” that I have gathered over the years but forgot to have touched in any useful way since. Your writing is relieving like a breath of fresh air, to know that you don’t have to hold onto your precious oxygen while you wait to find someone “who gets it” to share their insight. As I begin to share with others that I too, will become a resident of the far away lands, I just simply get glazed over responses and remarks of “that’s on the other side of the world” to which I reply “exactly”.

    I never found myself writing to anyone in particular in my first attempts at scribbling, even if it took years to glance over a page of a journal, I knew that I had written it for my future self to either revel in it’s modern relevance, or reaffirm my individual growth in the value of “interesting-ness”. Either way, I’ve muttered “know your audience” at the scratching for a first page to the close of journal, both times being right and wrong. We write for ourselves until the right person comes along and takes over the burden of being our audience, liberating us as authors to watch our work walk off with a life of it’s own as a truly proud parent. To say that I look to you as a lighthouse, offering guidance in this stationary location abandonment and thus to provide cure for this “far-sickness”, you have certainly added another reader to your audience.

    In the hopes that your journey be a slow, thoughtful and meaningful one. I think of the great writers who refined their craft like a blacksmith who could only sharpen his fresh iron with more iron. It’s a unique trait of iron that’s needing to be reflected to cause the proper metal molding into the desired byproduct. I’m hoping that your writing continues through this ordeal and that our correspondence will have a life of it’s own as we encounter the virtues of any good “global citizen”. Truth in actions, beauty in life, freedom of thought and love in every way we know how.

    See you on the other side,



  3. Been there done that, went through the alcohol withdrawl after 2 weeks, felt like I was gonna die or at least wanted to after drinking a resort out of vodka twice. Prayed to the porcelain god etc… So, good luck with that. Whoever Sasha is, you will learn he has/had a reason to drink, most likely a spirit handed down through the ages via bloodline or loss of a loved one due to his drinking. Luckily you don’t have it and you’re body will reject it, as it already does, thanks be to God. But, good luck with that anyway 😉 Keep us informed on your “progress” 😀


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