On Being a Kharkovite

To me, Kharkov was always akin to a childhood bedroom. You might think warmly of its various nooks and crannies, but won’t necessarily return there for reasons other than purely practical ones.

This winter, things were different. For the first time, my coming here was a field trip. Sometime in late autumn I submitted a trip proposal, and a few weeks later stood in the familiar airport in a most unfamiliar (for this place) capacity. I was now a researcher.

As it turns out, I couldn’t have given myself a better holiday gift. I always knew we have a unique cultural scene here. I just didn’t quite realize how vibrant it is. Tonight, on the way home after yet another meeting – this time with Sashko Ushkalov and Igor Zarudko – I walked along the familiar Sumskaya street and couldn’t quite figure out why it seemed brighter than usual. Was it due to the colourful holiday lights that lined its trees? Most likely. But it was also the light of a little door you suddenly find behind an old closet. At the age of 30, I’m realizing that my childhood bedroom is more of a palace.

Ah, the imagined increased weight of my little portable notebook, laden with fresh ink. I fly back to Cambridge in a few days to start Lent term, and I have no idea how I’ll pack all the books people have given me in these two weeks. But I just might end up being the happiest passenger paying for overweight luggage Austrian Airlines has ever seen.

Ну, – потому что я харьковчанка, конечно.



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