This was the Greek Square, with the Greek bookshop, where you could browse the recent literature of the city, and with small brasseries around, where you could sit out even after midnight in the warm, noisy Odessan night, smelling of the sea. Only a few steps away, to the left, is the Gambrinus, where they still play old Odessan pub songs every evening, and that is already the corner of the City Park and Deribasovskaya, the crowded promenade. In the background, the Afisha passage and department store where the demonstrators fled, and the building on the corner, on which the fire bomb is thrown, is the Smiley internet café, which often helped me out when the net did not work in my room.
This enormous socialist realist temple was the headquarters of the trade unions in Kulikovo park, opposite the train station, next to the Japanese bargain hotel with small claustrophobic sleeping niches, converted from the old tram depot. Further along the rails, the Middle Mills from Kataev’s A white sail gleams, and beyond it, the Moldavanka, with Khmelnitsky’s statue at the beginning of the Jewish street, and in Khmelnitsky street with the house of Benya Krik and its hundred-year-old dovecotes described again and again by Babel.
In recent months it has become increasingly palpable, that in the Ukraine an era has come to an end. This has become definite with the latest tragedy in Odessa. The extended socialism, the twenty-year delay of adulthood, which this eternal borderland has overslept, during which it has not become either East or West, and which now awakens to the prospect of its fate being decided independently by the East and the West, as has happened so many times over the course of history. A world frozen in a dream, anachronistic and surrealistic, and yet captivating. I am grateful that at least in its final years it was allowed for me me to see some of it and also to show it to others.