17 August 2007

Home Sweet Home

Imagine a hard days work, trying to communicate with a totally different and foreign people by your sick coverage of the language and then making your way back through the spit and broken glass covered streets to the Metro to travel 30 minutes in a totally unventilated atmosphere that carries filthy notes of unwashed bodies who enjoy pork lard and dark beer for breakfast and a shaurma for lunch, you get out to grasp your fresh radioactive air of your neighborhood and try to smile at the familiar faces of the metro exit: the flower seller woman in her 90s trying to sell already dried out flowers, shopkeeper who last smiled uring the Cuban Missile Crisis and hundreds of fellow moscowites who are bumbing their way recklessly through the crowd of men and women who have gathered around the kiosks to sip their evening beer before they decide on which kind of saturated alcohol solution they will drink that night (those solutions actually have brand names like Jaguar or Red Devi and have more chemicals to make them taste like gin-tonic or pina colada. The last time I drank a Jaguar, my stomach ached for days as if I have eaten a nuclear generator cooling fluid)...You try to ignore the flood of spitting, laughing and occasionally urinating people and reach the sedating atmosphere of your courtyard with its green trees, rusting Ladas and lavishly sawn flowers blossoming and groups of underage neighbor teens with their cigarettes and beers and a full coverage of russian slang that would make a siberian truck driver embarrassed.

So what would you expect to ease the already tense nerves? A relax at your home of course but there is still a challenge awaiting before your arrival at your castle. The "apartments"

I have written a couple of articles about the housing system in USSR and its remnants to its successor, Russia. It is almost impossible to find a clean (or cleaned throughout the last decade) and unlittered by any organic or inorganic waste. I had a possibility to take a couple of photos of my apartment that would contribute to the last chapter of my articles on housing.

By the way, I am living in a central (beneath the metro ring) and a supposedly good neighborhood and pay a rent that is actually the average salary in Moscow in dollars. (I am not telling my address since I still have my angry Lada audience..and actually not afraid to post the photos since every soviet building is the same with only 3-4 different plans prepared by soviet architects in 70 years)

A warm salute with odd green plants organised in latest avant-garde Tadjik gardening style. The Tadjik gardeners have a strange habit of keeping the doorway wet 24 hours and they live under the shed that can be seen on the left of the photo.

The inside was painted 2 months ago but I think they have almost forgotten that the stairs must also be repaired. After a massive repair work by the Moslift (Moscow elevator company) to change our beloved Kruschev-era elevator (that worked hummingly as if it ran on steam), the workers ruined the front stairs and I think we may find some political prisoners buried deep under the staircase some day.

Here is a look back to the stairway to the front door. Actually, the apartment's hallways have more heating equipment than our office has. (It is sometimes hotter in the corridor than in my flat). Also some of the Tadjik janitors (actually they are the gardeners who are forced inside the buildings to collect decade old garbages or dead bodies of old tenants (that is another story)) have improvised a carpet to cover the broken soviet tilework but now this carpet acts as a fauna for moscow road dirt, mud and urine of drunk neighbors; who never can reach their toilets in time for relief.

The jewel of the soviet postal service. I was embarrassed to notice that I had a postal box 6 months later, after my landlord told me that I have to check it regularly. Now I have a key to my box and I receive regular sexshop ads, sushi discount coupons and letters destined to a tollay different address in Moscow.

ROMAN GRIGOREVICH ! I have your mails :) email me so that I can get them back to you....

Another difference from Turkey is the garbage disposal service, where in Turkey we would hand the garbage bags to the janitor at night and he would later collect them to hand it to the disposal service (That is why we have relatively cleaner streets there). But with the absence of a janitor (or even a regular visit by a Tadjik gardener) the domestic garbage must be disposed through the funnels that are placed in every floor.

It may look like a good and sanitized idea but thinking that the gathered garbage are disposed out of the building maybe once a month (I have only seen once when a group of Tadjiks were shoveling out piles of garbage -in 2 years already), these funnels turn into atomisers of the stench that is resident in the corridors. Also some thoughful neighbors never ever care to put their garbage bags inside the funnel but near it, maybe to show how juicy and disgusting garbage they can create out of their sick lifes in their rat holes. The stick that lies near the funnel is (as you may already guess) used to tuck the bags in and often cause some damage to the bags to leak out the wonderfully smelling fluid out of the funnel to the floor, which will never ever cleaned.

Here is a look back from the garbage area to my corridor. Notice the vacant tiles on the floor but keep in mind that the building dates back to 1959. According to a survey, half of the buildings inside central Moscow have elevators installed in 1950s or 60s. One can observe very creative neo-nazi graffiti or elevator buttons melted by lighter fire...or many other absurdities inside those elevators.

An example of a newer apartment building that can bee seen on the outer regions of Moscow. The common part is the entrance that rather looks like an entrance to KGB Headquarters and often you can find a babushka (old Russian lady) with her puzzling stare at you.

That house has a more welcoming corridor

Another view from an entrance. Neighbors love to lay down their unsued boxes and furniture in the hallways. I even saw a piano in one corridor, blocking the half to obstruck any passage.

Edit: I am happy to live in Russiaa...am I?


Hans said...

Now you know why Czechs, Hungarians, and other people in the former Sovjet 'bloc' Love our Russian friends..))
I remember 2000, when my dear friend Barbora in Prague told me that 'Russian's' needs a visa now to enter Czech R...))

Regarding garbage...
Greeks and Turks are extremely clean in their houses, but dump everything on the street...)
In the Netherlands each household has garbage boxes: one for glass, one for papers and food, one for batteries and elec. stuff, and you call the city council for other trash like furniture..)
Yes, you are happy in Moskova since you don't drink and can get all the women you met..))

Hans said...

I am ashamed of all the bad English....))
But...when can we expect a marriage of Mr. Dinc and one of the beautifil Russian Ladies..))

Dinc Arslan said...

Soon my friend...sooon