Friday, February 15, 2013

To Kyiv and Back

There is an apple crisp in the oven so I have a few minutes to blog.  Even with a sore thumb.  Put a razor edge on the paring knife to slice the apples and sliced my thumb instead.  Wondered why the apples were so red.  Anyhow...

Went to Kyiv for a couple days.  Everyone was in the city at once so it was well worth my time going up.  The days were a bit longer than calculated though.  It was my first time outside the city limits of Zhovti Vody since we got back from Turkey in early October.  Things change.  Like rail schedules.  The express doesn't stop at the little siding anymore so the nearest station is over an hour away.  The night trains still stop so it was leave on the 12:30 am train and arriving back at 5:00 am.  My 39 hour trip morphed into a 53 hour trip with two nights on the train.

Met over breakfast with a prof from Ag Economics College of Agriculture and Bioresources, U of Saskatchewan.  A number of universities were meeting with Ukrainian universities looking at potential cooperation. May be some potential to link U of S with another large Ag university.  I hope so.  Don't get me started on the state of university education and scientific research in this country.

Then met our friend,  Lera (Valerie) for lunch, after which we went to an Agricultural Exhibition clear across town.  I had a meeting there for 3:00 pm with a client and Lera volunteered to interpret for me.  We had worked together several times over the years on STEP projects.  Lera is still in project management but "misses agriculture".

At the "InterAgro GrainExpo" several Saskatchewan companies were there with STEP in a Canada area.  Some companies I knew and three people so it was nice to visit with them for a bit.  The owners of one company turned out to be neighbours of people I knew well from Saskatchewan so we had a great visit.  You never know who you will run into.  When I first stopped at the booth and spoke to the lady, she was quite surprised that I spoke English so well, so I played that gag for a few minutes.

The meeting with potential clients went very well.  My friend Vlad and his partner Oksana had organized it as they were clients of his company.  It was nice to talk beef cattle production for a change.  They asked for a proposal so that is progress.  They are also frustrated enough with how badly things are going that they are willing to listen which will also help.  Cattle production in Ukraine tends to follow the old Soviet Collective Farm model which was based on dual purpose cattle and extremely high input costs.  Breaking that mindset will be the key.

Once that was over, I met an old friend, John Jackson, out of Kansas whose consulting firm has an office in the city that he has to visit several times a year.  I had supper with John and his business associate Hriday Gupta from Nepal and crashed on their couch for the night - which lasted to noon the next day.  Guess I was tired.

In the after noon I went back to the Ag show just to see what was happening, then has a long supper visit with John and Hriday again and caught the 11:00 pm train for home.  Got to the house at 6:00, had a shower and a bowl of hot Borshch and slept to 1:00 pm.  Guess I am not as young as I once was.  Trains and I are not as comfortable together as we were.

It was nice to relax.  I have been glued to my computer since November 1 on two projects plus all the stress of January (more on that later) so this weekend I am relaxing by working on the proposal for the beef client.

14 comments:

  1. I think I need to visit and teach you the real meaning of the word 'relax'. :) That said, yay! for good meetings and time spent with friends.

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    1. Sometimes doing something enjoyable is relaxing even if technically it is "work".

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  2. Glad the trip went well, papa.

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    1. Thanks, Ky. I needed a break and the trip was fun. Even got to eat a steak!

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  3. Have missed your blog.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Thanks. I am glad to be back. Now to catch up on all the back reading of your blog and others.

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  4. Sounds like there are many consulting nibbles for you. Isn't it great to find connections with people from home, i.e. Saskatchewan. Happy proposal writing this weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Barb. All I get in Ukraine is nibbles but one of these days something will take the hook.

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  5. Welcome back! Nothing like a bit of "relaxation". :-)

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    1. On the subject of relaxation, my kid read all your books and ranked them 4/5 stars on Goodreads. Said she really enjoyed them.

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    2. Thanks for telling me! And please thank her for posting the reviews, too. I really appreciate it when people take the time to do that. :-)

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  6. Makes me wonder how big a challenge language is for you. You write of all the many people you know, so I rather assumed that you spoke their language. Now, I'm wondering if most of them speak English.

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    1. Language is a great challenge. Many of the people in Ukraine that I know speak some English. for the rest, I depend on Tanya or a professional translator. Sad I know.

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    2. "Some English" does sound sad because conversations would be shallow if not tedious. I feel for you.

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