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Nata, musician, author of the ONUKA project

“I’ve spent a festive and playful childhood in Chernihiv in the yard of my grandparents. That’s where my first friends lived and where we used to play hide and seek. I never went outside to play with other children in Kyiv because Voskresenka was considered a dangerous area where no one mainly knew each other. We lived there in an ordinary Soviet courtyard with nine-panel buildings on the city's outskirts. I think I went to a Kyiv kindergarten for only two weeks in total because I was sick most of the time. I had so many activities as a child - music schools, bands, clubs, so home was a place where I only did my homework and got sick. That’s why my childish memories of Chernihiv contain a fragrant green, flowering garden with a breeze, where everything smells deliciously sweet, while Kyiv is a sad, gray, panel, dirty dust bag, uncomfortable, cold, and alien. Kyiv was a study routine for me, while Chernihiv was a holiday and rest days.

As a child, I used to sit and look out of the apartment window, so I could see the opposite house where my best friend lived. We are still friends. From the age of six, we attended the same school, but in parallel classes, my mother was her piano teacher, we went to the music school together for solfeggio, we were basically attached at the hip. Before the apricots bloomed, I could see her window from the 300 meters, and she saw mine. Back then, I wanted to pull the strings between our windows to talk through the glasses, but we didn't know how to throw them from the ninth to the sixth floor, so we refused this idea.

Only a few people knew the Voskresenka district in those days, everyone knew Troyeschyna, and in order not to explain long where I lived, I usually said: "Troyeschyna".

We lived in the last street before the beginning of the Troyeschyna block - Kibalchych, but further than Vatutina, because we lived on the corner. It’s a pity that the area still doesn't have a subway, because that would solve the problem of congestion on the North Bridge - the traffic is just awful. I remember the road to the institute was a constant traffic jam. Traffic jams on the bridge were a permanent installation. Locals used to say "going to the city" when they were going to the center as if they lived not in the city but somewhere outside. I love the Voskresenka area for the park near the Aurora cinema, which, unfortunately, was demolished and substituted for a stupid square glass shopping center.

Voskresenka is a very green area with old plantations. On the one hand, I like it because I can come back to this place, where almost nothing has changed, and immerse myself in the childhood memories. On the other hand, when I look with fresh eyes at the houses that eventually froze at this moment, only getting older, I also feel sad that nothing has changed.

When I was a child, my father worked at the Arsenal factory, then at the Chernobyl station, and then at the State Academy of Management, which was located on the territory of the Kyiv Lavra. All these places were close to the Arsenalna metro station, at Pechersk district, near Glory Square, and the ‘Salyut’ cosmic hotel. We lived quite poor, but after the Chernobyl accident, my father's got a higher salary, so our family bought a car and had a tradition of driving to the ‘Salyut’ pizzeria almost every weekend. It was still a Soviet childhood, 1988, before Restructuring. The pizza was not a standard size, but small, like vatrushka, stuffed with greens, eggs, and cheese and covered with ketchup. Dad ordered coffee in small Soviet cups with a gold rim and chips. "Salute" will always smell like this pizza for me. My brother still remembers it too. When he eats something delicious, he says, "like that pizza from childhood." The contrast between the deficit and monotony of the food from the past and the the explosion of the flavor of that small pizza was so striking.

I was torn from the outskirts of life when I started to study at the University of Culture, where I made friends with the department of film directors and dived into the music and film parties. It gave me a fresh breath of life. Everyone knew each other because young people lived in the center, hung out with companies, and I seemed to come from another village. The new company revealed a Kyiv youth life for me. I completely changed my appearance by cutting my fair long hair to the shoulders and coloring it in blond. So, Natasha became a completely different person.

After meeting Yevhen (Yevhen Filatov, Nata's husband) at the age of 23, I found out about another Kyiv. We loved going to Ryumochna in Bessarabka. It is a pity that this place has disappeared.

In Podil, we lived in the house at Nizhniy Val 37/20, and there was a basement with an unnamed place, but we called it "Grotto." There was a bartender who knew our tastes.

The bar was open 24 hours a day, and at night there were no visitors except Zhenya and me. There was a jukebox with some pop music from 2000, and we could switch it to our playlist.

I love Kyiv for Dnipro and the expansive landscape, bridges, and greenery. I really like Podil in the area of Voloska, Spaska, Khoriva, and the opposite of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Especially in the evenings or at night, when there is no traffic, and you can feel that you are part of microcosmos. I also love the old streets near Shovkovychna, as well as the Lipky and the Citadel districts.

I adore Pyrogiv, which is also Kyiv for me. And although it is considered very popular, I feel so great to be there on a rainy off-season day when there are no people. I have a tradition of coming here for Easter to participate in a special procession around the wooden church that aims to consecrate all Easter cakes. Everyone gathers on a vast meadow with hills and windmills closer to the north. The stars are visible, and it’s very quiet around, people light candles, women are wearing handkerchiefs, everything smells of delicious food - Easter cakes and all sorts of goodies from wicker baskets. It feels like another time, however it is not a restoration of events, but the traditions of modern Kyiv.

By the way, I wrote the melody for the Misto song in my car while riding in Troyeschyna close to the Festival market and a high-speed tram.

Actually, I don't like the song "How can I not love you, my Kyiv?" as well as our Anthem. How can the Anthem begin with the words "Is it not dead yet…"? What energy do we carry in our Anthem from the beginning? I listened to Taras Petrynenko's songs all my childhood, and I would gladly suggest using his song "Ukraine." He is a genius composer with extraordinary music harmonies and words that make you feel goosebumps.

I will introduce my child to Kyiv by showing him my special places in the city. It feels like the right way to fall in love with the city, live your childhood, and experience your passion for Kyiv once again. I truly believe in our young people, who are a generation younger than me, because I see many conscious people at concerts with self-identification and a different worldview. I want to believe that we will survive this nepotism. I see people who raise their children very well, with deep, spiritual, and right values, and I have great expectations for them."

Nata, musician, author of the ONUKA project

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