Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
A Date with Soviet Nostalgia
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Village – Part 4
The man turned out to be incredibly knowledgeable. He told us that despite the fact the village was named “Babin,” no one with that last name had ever lived there. Fascinated, we asked him how the village came by its name. His answer was based solely on legend. It goes something like this:
A long time ago, when the Huns were invading Europe, they came upon a settlement. The invaders quickly laid siege to the settlement, which forced most of the people out. Only one person, a grandmother, remained.
Eventually, the villagers, her son included, came back to repel the invaders. They found the grandmother still alive and as fiery as ever. At the next town meeting, the people decided to name village after the old woman.
“Baba” in Ukrainian translates to “Old Woman (and is also short for “Grandmother”). When the genitive case ending is added to denote possession, you end up with “Babin”.
Hearing this story made the trip overwhelmingly worthwhile. Shortly thereafter, we headed out of the village and back to Chernovitse.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
The Village – Part 3
It was mildly anti-climactic that the “Babin” sign was covered by a tree. But that didn’t stop the shivers from running down my spine. There is something chilling about entering a city that not only shares your last name, but also represents the conditions that your forbearers ostensibly emerged from. This unique experience is one that not everyone gets to experience (unless your last name is “Midway”).
We took our customary pictures in front of the sign. My dad can now boast the elusive Grand Slam of “getting your picture taken next to a sign with one of your names on it.” Fifteen years earlier he was seen standing next to a sign that read “<- Gary” (the arrow was conveniently pointing towards him).
Obligations done, we headed into the village centre. Along the way, we saw what can only be described as a “time warp.” A man, straight out of the 19th century, was pushing a wheelbarrow (also circa 1853) up a hill. Some things never change in this village.
In the centre, there was a post office, a small monument, and a shop. Our driver stopped to ask an old lady (circa 1923) where the cemetery was. She said she was going in that direction, so we gave her a ride. The 5 minute trip, mainly on dirt roads, was accompanied by the smell of southwest Ukrainian river fish emanating from the woman’s bag.
Up at the cemetery, we spent time perusing the names on the gravestones. Many of the last names could also be found in the Grand Forks phonebook. What are the chances?
Our search complete, albeit empty-handed, we headed back down the hill to the main dirt road. Luckily, the man who knows everything about the village happened to be outside getting ready to go for a wedding. He would be able to tell us what was going on.