We went to the apartment and I huffed it up stairs (no elevator) in a building that well, has been around for a while. It is historic :).
After trying to get into the apartment, I found out the service that coordinated the apartment gave me the wrong apartment number. So, I met my neighbor.
Too bad it was not some hot Ukrainian woman in a towel, but at least it was an understanding big burly dude who just looked at me in amazement as I was trying to break into his apartment (he was in fact inside his own apartment and had a big bat with him). Oye. So he said (ok, yelled) something (intelligible to him, but ummm, somehow the f-bomb got dropped a few times I am pretty sure). The door slammed.
Hrumph. The piece of paper SAID 24. So I looked around and saw that there were three more apartments in this section. I moved to the one next door.
Still catching my breath from the haul up the stairs, I moved onto the apartment next door and tried one of the 25 keys on the holder. One worked. And, the bolted door lead to another door. So, finding yet another key, I opened the next door. At least there were only two doors (not like those Russian Dolls you can get that just keep getting smaller and smaller). And locked both behind me. Nice yellow slippers on the floor, but not mine. I hoped I had the right apartment.
The apartment is a beautiful pink. Lovely. Not really my choice of colors, but after meeting my neighbor and locking the doors behind me, I was happy to see I had a safe place to stay. “Shoot”, I thought, “The keys worked.” It has all the amenities of home, including satellite TV (which, I guess the bill was not paid because it just says something like “no service” (or wait… actually it says… o shoot… cannot type the words…. let’s leave it at “no service.” So I turned on the regular TV and listened to Ukrainian soap operas in the background. Looked around and saw that it had an empty fridge so it must be a rental (smile).
Time to leave for lunch already…. bags not even unpacked. Leaving my bags and sailing down the stairs, I looked back at the apartment and noticed a bright blue balcony over the entryway (this is a bit of foreshadowing!). Met my host downstairs.
Hope you are enjoying this, living vicariously through me — and really — the Scrum learning is coming too. I promise.
Kyiv is a great walking city I am learning. And the people are so friendly. Well, except if you are trying to break into their apartment.
I walked with my host to a metro station area for some local lunch (local, duh, I am here… but I told him we could skip McDonalds and TGIFridays!). We went to some local pub and I had coke and some chicken thing with a pickle. Yum. O… and the coke tastes like coke — real sugar I think (not the crap we get in the US with corn syrup). It does make a difference. But heck, it was still a coke that made me smile (I have a million of those lines). Oh, and you want to say “Coke-a-Cola” not coke. I guess there could be mistakes by the looks I was getting from people around me when I placed the order.
After lunch, we hopped into a cab to be zoomed across the city to an old soviet building that was used (I think “was” and not “is” anymore) to design aircraft for the Soviet military. They looked strikingly like the airplanes I see in other places in the world. After handing over my passport and going through a strip search by a hot Ukrainian woman in a towel — wait…. that did not happen…. I handed over my passport for examination to some lady that looked like she has been there since before the building was there and was allowed to pass through the turnstile into the lobby. There were two elevators. Here we go — and it is like a pushbutton type I have never seen before.
I turned on my phone (forgot I had it!) and it looks like it had service from the nice phone company in Kyiv.
Now… before you think I am some untraveled ethnocentric Americano… please remember I have done a bit of traveling in my past. And more than my sister, who thinks “Epcot” at Disney in Orlando is all you need to do to see the world. I love traveling. And I love learning things like I am learning now. I do hope you are enjoying this entry heh….
It was a hot day yesterday. About 33-34 degrees (close too 100, eh?). The room where I would start my first talk in the Ukraine — hosted by the awesome members of the local Agile Users Group — had no air conditioner. This was not a problem until AFTER I was done with my roundtable discussion.
Anyway, about 50 people were in attendance and I started with my usual warnings about, “Tell me if I am talking too fast or if I say some stupid Americanism that needs translation.” Then I jumped into my discussion.
Every time I lead this discussion, I get VERY nervous about audience participation. I should stop worrying.
I start this type of discussion on a white board drawing the skeleton of Scrum. I point out the steps, the artifacts, and the roles associated with Scrum. All of this is “by the book” kind of information. Then it gets interesting. When I first arrived, I asked people (on a scale from 1-5) about their experience with Scrum…. most in this audience were 1-2 with a few 5’s. I, by the way, do not consider myself a 5 on that scale.
I then start a product backlog — on the wall with a big piece of sticky white paper — for audience members to let me know what they want to talk about. Mostly it is about, “Scrum in the Real World” (wow… the title of my presentation!).
I usually have about 90 minutes to pull this off.
90 minutes flies by.
Great questions were asked, and I was finished. I will address some of them in upcoming writings.
Coffee break (I had water).
Then the group had two more presentations. One was from a company looking at the local Ukrainian market who wants to setup shop there and told some war stories of how a project got completed by using Scrum. Or sort of. Stuff like “death march” was used in there, so it must have been some variance of Scrum. Yeah. Good stuff.
Now, remember… I said it was a little hot.
And, after being up all night (since Monday morning eastern time at 4:30 AM), I had to stand up else I would have passed out and that would have looked bad for me. Coffee would have been a good idea in retrospect.
Another break (no coffee this time) and we went on to listen to another speaker who had much to say about off shore agile. I learned a lot from their perspective and will be writing more about this in the near future. He was the only “non-Enlish” speaker who apologized for his English language skills (about a zillion times) and said his Russian was much better. I thought I’d be funny from the back and say, “Thank you, and remember your English is wayyyyy better than my Russian!”
Expecting crickets sounding in the background, at least the crowd laughed (probably being polite, but much appreciated).
We wound up the meeting at about 7:00 PM local time (it is +7 hours from ET).
I was ready to go to sleep.
But then my ears perked.
“Pub” and “Beer” passed though my Ukrainian babble-fish like finely-tuned ears. Could it be?
All 50 of us descended upon a local pub for furthering our discussions on all things Scrum. Or not.
OK, we did not talk about Scrum (too much). But drink we did. Or they did. I stopped at one beer. I am thinking more will come as my stay progresses.
My host then asked if I wanted to go to dinner and we went to a local place for some Borsch, Beer, and Beef. Nothing like the three B’s for dinner :).
After some great conversation and excellent food, I flagged down a taxi (at least I though so, some mercedes stopped anyway) and my host negotiated my rate back to the apartment and gave the driver an address (at least I thought he did, he was speaking Ukrainian with his head popped in through the window of the car”. I hopped in hoping it was not the last I saw of humanity. OK… not really.
The “cab driver” spoke no english and had no idea where the heck he was going. After much “bla bla bla” from him and me thinking (very loudly and using the f-bomb in my mind) I cannot believe this, I got out a map and showed him where my apartment was.
It was useless to him because it was in English.
What should have been a five minute cab ride wound up taking about 40 minutes through the back streets of Kyiv.
Nice tour. Fast and furious. Worse than when my father used to get lost and not admit it. OK… I do the same thing back home.
Remember earlier how I remembered looking back at the blue balcony? Well, after much of the cab driver “talking” to (ok, yelling at) me in Ukrainian and me just staring at him with a look of astonishment like, “does he think I am freaking deaf or TRYING to ignore him???” we whizzed by the blue balcony. “STOP” I yelled.
Looking around, well, um, nothing looked familiar except for the damn blue balcony.
So I paid the guy for my 5 minute taxi ride (the negotiated rate only!) and, tires spinning, I was left standing in a puff of white smoke (ahhh… the smell of spinning tires) in the beginnings of darkness on some street in Kiev surrounded by barking dogs.
Ug. The front door to the apartment complex was locked. And it had a numbered keypad (not electronic, push button — like the elevator) on it.
Looking through the apartment information that was handed to me (it was in my pocket, phew), I found a three numbered code and… it did not work. Not really surprised. But hey…. maybe this was the wrong building I gulped.
I tried it again. And. It it did not work.
Remembering an episode of Scooby Doo (I watch the movies with my kids!), I looked harshly at the numbers on the keypad. Three were worn down. I kinda pushed all three at once and viola, whoosh, the door inched open.
No lights inside. And a haul up the stairs to the apartment. And outside of my block of apartments, there was yet another locked door. No lights either (not to self — bring my little flashlight when I leave).
One more guess (OK, 20) from my block of keys let me in (and I locked it behind me) and then two more doors in, and ahhhh…. home in my pink apartment I was.
And then I found a cable modem on the floor. Right next to a bear rug. Seriously. I think it is dead but it is staring at me right now. At least he is quiet.
And… well…. as you can see… I got it working.
I bought some Skype money and called the cell to let my wife know I arrived and things were well. Nothing much had happened with me today (smile).
And then went to sleep.
Got up Wednesday morning about 7:00 local time and wrote this entry after reading some email.
At this point I will head out and walk around until about 1:00 — where I will be picked up for my next adventure — some consulting at a local company implementing scrum here.
More later. I hope :).
Still looking around wondering if I am in someone else’s apartment. O well…. for now I am OK.
June 20, 2007