One thing I love about Russia is the sense of community. Even though Moscow is a huge city, in every local neighbourhood, in almost every block of flats, there are groups of women who are often outside together, chatting about God knows what. Spending time with each other. Sharing gossip maybe.
Not so different from your neighbourhood, probably.
But it just feels different from an Australian neighbourhood.
Here, they sit outside their buildings, all year round (yes, even in winter, but less often and less long), with their neighbours, and discuss whatever old women discuss. They seem serious, but occasionally they’ll burst out laughing at something.
They can be in groups of 2, 3 or more.
Sometimes they sit, and sometimes they stay standing because they’re on their way somewhere, or just getting home from somewhere.
I’ve never stopped to chat with any of them, except to ask for directions once or twice. They would have known that I wasn’t Russian by my bad Russian language skills, but they’ve never asked where I’m from.
I’ve seen so many of these women over the years, gathered together at the entrance of their buildings. But I haven’t taken many photos of them. It’s because I’m too afraid to ask them for permission (it’s how my ‘look behind you’ photo series started). So, I often just walk past them, thinking how great they would look in a photo – a slice of Russian life. Sometimes I walk past them slowly, savouring the scene, storing the picture in my head, knowing I won’t have a photo of it but wanting to keep the memory forever anyway.
On the day in this photo, in a Moscow outer suburb called Dedovsk, I saw these women who were gathered in front of some flats, and took the chance of getting a photo of them. And it worked. They didn’t see me, so they were completely natural.
You can also see the garden, on the right hand corner, an old-fashioned tyre creature. I’ve written about Russian gardens for you here. There are some really interesting ones here!
This really is one of my favourite photos.
Do you have a feeling of community where you live? Do elderly people spend time outside, in common public areas, together and chat about anything and everything?