«Bad Moon Rising?» It Doesn’t Feel Like It In Lviv

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An American traveler who «quickly fell in love with this vibrant city» describes the mood in Western Ukraine.

by Asher Zelig, an American in Lviv 

I woke up this morning with Creedence Clearwater Revival playing in my head. «I see a bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way.» I pulled aside the curtain on the hostel bed that has been my home for nearly a month and a half now to see if the invasion had begun. No flashbangs, just warm sunlight streaming through the tall windows. No explosions, just the sound of Shevchenko street’s traffic down below. A regular Wednesday morning in Lviv.

But there are signs that something is different. The kitchen is busier than usual when I step out, and more English is being spoken than normal. Over tea, a well-travelled Ukrainian woman tells me of her plans to head to her family in the Carpathian mountains. She has come from Kyiv, «just in case.» 

I heard a similar story last night when an American man showed up at a weekly English club in Beer Culture and was delighted to find so many countrymen and English speakers in one place. He too had come from Kyiv «just in case.» He confessed to feeling foolish, the safety of Lviv, and the air of normalcy made his flight seem almost silly. Besides, he explained why should some mother and child stay in danger in their home while the «precious American» leaves? It felt unfair.

Still I can’t blame him. As the morning progresses a trio of Pakistani medical students take over the kitchen, preparing a heaping pan of chicken karahi that they will soon share with us. 

«Our embassy always tells us too late,» one of them explains. Most of their friends have chosen to leave despite their officials’ silence. A taller fellow, on cleaning duty, is a Canadian citizen and will go to the UK where he has family, the others have less options. They plan to wait it out here in for a few days before returning to Kyiv.

We sit down to a late breakfast and I pull out my guitar at their request, happy to contribute something to the meal. We laugh and joke and enjoy the hearty meal, not really worrying about anything. As I sit down to write, two of the students prepare to depart with our new Ukrainian friend to explore the city. This has just become a vacation for them.

Amidst all the warnings and all the precautions, I can’t help but smile. The song continues, «I see earthquakes and lighting, I see bad times today,» but I don’t.

You can follow Asher Zelig on Instagram

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Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.

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