Working And Drinking

Tuesday was my day to leave early for the airport; I took the enormous duffel bag, which had been made one kilo lighter by Ray having taken the peanut butter we’d brought for a friend in Romania. A bus, an S-Bahn, and another bus did the trick.  The flight on Ukranian National was uneventful.  A limo picked me up at the Kiev airport, and took me to the Holiday Inn, by far the fanciest hotel we’d stayed in this trip. I repacked stuff slightly, and took a tote bag to Global Logic, where I spent about 32 out of the next 75 hours working with several of my colleagues, many of whom I had known only as e-mail addresses. They have old-school cubicles, but they are packed full of people. My 4×8 cubicle was shared with another guy; the three Pro Tools tech leads shared the next one, an 8×8 cube. Tuesday night, after working a few hours, we went to a fancy Georgian restaurant. Three of us split chacha, homemade Georgian grappa, as far as I can tell. Strong stuff, but the apple juice chaser dilutes it. We ordered lots of khachapuri, which is a bit like pizza with only crust and cheese, and bits of several other things.

Wednesday and Thursday I just worked. We ate around 5pm, one day in a little “health restaurant” in the building, and another with food delivered to the little break room steps from my cubicle. I worked on into the night, giving me a chance to communicate with my California coworkers.

Friday was a bit of a break. In the morning, three coworkers met me at my hotel and we went to Pirogov, a park outside of town with exhibitions of village building styles from the last several centuries from all of the regions of Ukraine. There were windmills (with non-pitched blades) which were like little houses which rotated on their pedestals; beehives in front of houses; a building with a circular horse treadmill which through gears turned a flour mill (gee, I guess that’s why they call it treadmill); lots of little houses that we could go in and see objects which might have been there. And a few actually operating churches. After a couple hours, we returned to work, and I looked into some bug reports and took some time and care to determine that none of them seemed to be a threat to shipping the next version of the program. 7pm rolled around, and a group of us convened on the roof for some privately brewed beer and Serbian-style burgers. After that, and after dropping off all my stuff at the hotel, the pub crawl began. A taxi took us to a pricey modern crowded bar, where I had a very nice concentrated blackcurrant drink. Later another taxi took us to a “hipster bar”, only slightly less crowded, where a DJ was just packing up; I had a Boulevardier. It seemed nice enough, but the leader of the group moved on to another bar which featured live music, here I got a pint of Ukranian beer. The music was mostly 80s covers, competently played; I wasn’t annoyed by any wrong chords. My cubicle-mate lived about a block from my hotel, so we walked back together. By the time I got to my room it was 4am.

Saturday I checked out, the limo took me to the airport, I checked in (checking in online while I waited in the shorter Bag Drop line), then got on the British Airways plane and sat in an exit row.  Arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5, they are very proud of the sheer massiveness of the place. They forgot to mention “massively long line for ALL PASSPORTS”; it took 25 minutes to get through it, which is about par.  I got an Oyster card, and took the Underground and a bus to our airbnb just off Brixton Road in south London.  After walking around Brixton Village, with tons of crowded little restaurants intermingled with closed farmer’s market stalls, I went up to meet Ray at Blackfriar’s where he arrived after landing at Luton airport at 11pm.