Outskirts of Kyiv - The Way They Are, Uncensored

When visiting a new city or a new country, I bet you try to avoid sketchy places. But even if you happen to get or stay there, you would no...

When visiting a new city or a new country, I bet you try to avoid sketchy places. But even if you happen to get or stay there, you would not normally take any pictures of that place. Why? Because it's human nature that you want to bring good memories and show your friends and family that you've been somewhere they kept seeing on glossy postcards. Who bothers with some outskirts of Barcelona, Vienna or Paris? Almost no one. But I believe that a picture is a great storyteller, and not all stories have to be perfect to be interesting. So that's why I want to show you one of the many outskirts of my native city Kyiv, far from the sleek and picture-perfect city centre
This is the neighbourhood where I grew up - not so great, but not too bad either. It was built in the 1990s when there was still a possibility to get an apartment for free if you'd waited long enough in the "apartment queue" while working for one of the state-owned companies. That was probably the best employment loyalty program I've ever seen as buying an apartment was almost impossible for an ordinary family since no one heard about mortgages back then.
A new apartment, once handed over to its owner, almost instantly required a full renovation due to the very poor quality of work done by a builder. 
Fast forward 15-20 years - some owners added an extra layer of external insulation which made a building look like a patchwork towel. 
Very few people used to have cars, so there was almost no parking built at multi-story buildings. There would be about 10 parking spots for 100 apartments. As a result, parking became very chaotic and is often taking over sidewalks or lawns.
Some people managed to take a piece of land and put up a garage. Of course, it's normally illegal.
The playground's sign says: "Territory of Childhood: no littering, no smoking and no alcohol drinking". They forgot to mention - no dog walking as picking a poop after a dog is still rare, although slowly becoming a norm.
My second school: looks better after it was fully renovated in 2000 following the gas explosion that killed 3 people. The school principal had illegally sanctioned furniture production in the school basement. There would have been many more casualties had the explosion happened during the school day. I changed this school to another one (and took my three friends with me) about 6 months before the tragic incident as I was in a class where good teachers did not want to teach due to disciplinary issues of some students. I'm so glad I did as the new school and the people I met there really changed my life.
Oh my goodness, a taxophone like that used to be the only way to call someone from my neighbourhood in the mid-1990s. People had to wait in a telephone queue for several years before they could get a home phone installed. Fast forward 20 years - it's now completely free of charge to call any local number from a taxophone, and I have no idea how Ukrtelecom generates revenue out of this service. People actually start cancelling their landlines as no one uses them anymore due to cheap cell phone rates.
A local grocery store. People used to sell flowers on these stairs.
I don't even know how to properly call this terrible place at a subway station.
You can basically buy food, and electronics, make a haircut, have a shot of vodka or a glass of beer, exchange currency or your jewellery for cash, get a fast cash loan, fix your cell phone and even gamble even though a store says "Lottery". 
Ukrainian marketers for outdoor advertisements are the best marketers in the world. They seize every opportunity to promote their products. 
Alcohol consumption in public places is prohibited, eh?
Kyiv's mayor is getting rid of those sporadic and often semi-legal markets. I believe it's a good thing to do, but people complain that the methods used are not very appropriate - by physically removing those mini-stores with little to no advanced notice.
Second-hand stores as well as Chinese low-cost clothing from Alibaba grew in popularity as people generally became poorer over the past 6 years.  
Municipal public transit is quite good in Kyiv. Mind you, while Americans and Canadians were busy building infrastructure for private cars, the Soviet Union (and then independent Ukraine) excelled in building public transportation including subway, trolleybus, tram and bus routes.
While often provides more convenience compared to municipal public transit due to its vast network of routes, minibuses or "marshrutkas" should be banned as they pose more risk than any other mode of transportation in Kyiv. Low-paid drivers have to multitask - to drive, collect money and give change, to make sure everyone has paid their fare. And I hope it does not happen often now, but I remember drivers talking on the phone and smoking at the same time while doing everything I've mentioned before.
Oh boy, did I mention how terrible some of those minibuses are? Sometimes I was afraid it would fall apart.
As much as this article may sound negative, I did however see some positive changes in Kyiv over the past 6 years. One of them is cleanliness. Kyiv really became much cleaner than it used to be thanks to people not throwing their trash on the street. There is obviously lots of work to be done in the city to clean up bodies of water and green spaces such as parks and forests, but the very fact that there is less trash on the street means that people start caring more and more about the place they live. 

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