November 2018

Issue: November 2018

Read Current IssueDownload
Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
 
 
Column
            Back to Open Skies

 
 

kiev in Kiev

1 November 2018

Dom Joly leads a fruitless search for a chicken dish, and gets to the bottom of a serious matter in Ukraine

I’ve just been travelling through the Ukraine, a country probably not too high on people’s holiday list.

I was there to make a film on Europe’s forgotten war for Save The Children. Just three hours’ flight from London is an ongoing war with a five hundred-mile long front-line with regular shelling, fighting and a serious landmine problem.

I met kids caught up in the fighting who had been bombed out of their flats, injured by landmines and were having to cross the front line every day just to get to school. Save The Children provided, among other things, community centres where kids could do normal things like art, music and play. It reminded me very much of growing up in a civil war in Beirut and I was all too aware of the negative effects that these experiences would have on these poor kids.

Travelling to these areas inevitably has some downtime and we spent a night next to what I assumed was the Black Sea. Having posted several photos of me by the Black Sea for the first time I was corrected by geographically astute followers who told me it was actually the wonderfully named Sea of Azov that sounds like the name of a new Tintin book.

Ukraine is a massive country and very difficult to get your head around. One particularly odd fact is that you can’t get chicken Kiev in Kiev.

On a previous trip to the country I scoured the capital for it, but nobody even knew what it was. It is obviously a Western invention, much like some of the most popular Indian dishes in the UK, like chicken tikka masala, that are totally unknown in India itself. There used to be a very popular TV advert in the UK for a fruit drink called Um Bongo. The song in the advert repeated over and over again “Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo.” On a trip to the Congo I visited several supermarkets and asked whether they stocked Um Bongo. They had never heard of it. I am currently suing the manufacturers of the drink for deceit.

The weirdest thing I found in the Ukraine, however, were the signs in the public toilets. One in particular caught my eye. Two scenes in red showed a stick man with a large roll of paper in his hand and, what appeared to be a man standing up with the toilet stuck to his bottom. Conversations with our Ukrainian guides led us to the bottom of this mystery. Apparently, the sign was telling people not to steal the loo paper… or the toilet itself. I asked my guide whether this was a big problem in the country. “Welcome to the Ukraine...” she said.

Share