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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life In a Russian Village

Karen and I live in Nizhny Novgorod, a city of about 1.5 million people. Depending on who you ask Nizhny Novgorod is the 3rd or 5th largest city in Russia. Russian cities are changing very rapidly. Ten years ago there were hardly any supermarkets and no malls outside of Moscow. Now nearly every large city has several of each. We have at least 10 supermarkets and five small malls in Nizhny Novgorod. Life in rural Russia however, has changed very little.

This summer we spent a week in the small town of Vacha. Vacha has a population of about 8000 people and is not really a village, but in Russia it is not considered a city, and there is no real Russian language equivalent for our word "town".
A typical street in Vacha.
As with many smaller Russian towns people live either in apartment buildings or wooden homes. The apartment buildings were built anywhere from the early 1930's and up to the present time. The building in this photo is of a typically apartment built in the 1940's. Russian apartment buildings can be pretty grim. The only comparison we can make to America is that they are like apartments in our inner city public housing projects.
A Soviet era apartment building (left) and a village home (below right).

In small Russian towns and villages many people live in traditional wooden homes. From the outside they look somewhat like our wood frame homes in America, but in reality the are log cabins. The log homes may or may not be covered with wooden plank siding. If they are in good repair and painted they are very charming. These log homes usually do not have running water and the bathroom facilities are "indoor" outhouses. The outhouse is a toilet room attached to the side or rear of the home. We stayed in such a home this summer.
All the household water must be carried from a local pump or well by hand. After you do this a few times, never have a shower, and use the outhouse on a regular basis, the charm of the log cabin tends to wear off.

Heat for these homes could either be hot water steam, or in the older homes there might be a traditional brick wood stove (pictured here) that is used for cooking baking and heating the home. In days past Russian families actually slept on top of these brick ovens on special built bed shelves. This would be good way to keep toasty warm on a cold Russian winter night.

That's me (Mike) in the light blue shirt, carrying water up the hill to the home where we stayed.

1 comment:

Ellie Dreis said...

Hi Mike, Very interesting view of Russian life and living conditions. More pictures please!