You will be surprised at the blackouts in Kyiv. It is not a Hollywood moment when the entire city goes dark, or when all the flats in a block go out at once.
These cuts are more frequent and unpredictable, leaving you feeling tired. Half of a building will have its electricity cut, but not the other. They will turn back on and then turn off again.
One side will be lit up, the other will remain dark.
People in this country and this city are used to nervousness and dislocation. It’s obvious from the beginning of the conflict that resilience runs through the Ukrainian nation.
This is a different story. It’s not an adrenaline rush to come home and find your heating has stopped working.
So we visited Pozniaki in Kyiv to see what happens when night falls and electricity goes out.
Nina uses her torch from her phone to guide us into her apartment. She is 66 years of age and has a great sense of purpose and energy.
She doesn’t remember the shrapnel that had damaged her apartment at the beginning of the war, but she shrugs it off as if it were a scare to be proud of. “I don’t fear anything. “I am at home, so why should I fear them?” They should fear us.”
Blackouts, however, are a different matter.
She claims that the apartment would be nearly impossible to live in during winter without electricity. Let’s just live it and see what happens.
Beside her, a candle slowly burns down.
Life does go on. Our pets, cats and dogs, come to visit us. Children are playing in a playground with their parents nearby to help them out when the lights go out. You also realize how mobile phones have transformed our lives. Nearly everyone has a torch in his or her pocket.
Viktoria is at the top of the block and teaches English. She is also preparing for lessons by candlelight. Despite the difficulties of living in this city, she is determined to keep going, “because I fight the rights of my people and of my country.” I am a patriot. I love my country. “I am Kyivite, and I am Ukrainian.”
“We are determined, we will survive”
Serhii leads us to the basement. The residents have donated money to purchase a generator. They also purchased some wood-burning stoves.
He tells me, “I believe you can still survive here.” It is possible to survive somehow. We are tenacious people. We will prevail.”
Although tenacious, it can also be frazzled or fraught. Kyiv, like the Blitz when the myths of cheerful stoicism and fear overtook reality, is a mix of emotions. While you can accept that blackouts are your national responsibility, it’s also okay to be angry about being in this position in the first instance.
Ksenia is walking with her husband and their two children along the road. Ksenia is an English teacher who lives in an apartment close to the busy road. She speaks with a lot of emotion and tiredness when she talks.
“We don’t have electricity. Our half of the building doesn’t have gas. I have a small child and can’t cook. He isn’t able to eat. It is very difficult.
“I cannot work, because my work is online. I need electricity but don’t have it. I am hoping to make enough money by the end of the month to buy food for my family.
“Life is impossible”
I wonder how difficult life is.
“It isn’t difficult, it’s impossible. It’s difficult to live in such a strange, difficult situation. It is the capital of Ukraine.
“Can you picture how people live in a village or another small town?” Although it is difficult, it is possible. They can light a fire and cook on it. This is impossible for us.”
It is easy to stereotype Ukrainians as a nation that accepts all pain and sees every hardship as a step toward victory.
The reality is that it is difficult for almost everyone in Ukraine – financially, emotionally and physically. People in Ukraine dream of victory but also long for the mundane pleasures of normality.