Iraida Yakovlevna, may I come in? I forgot that the handle goes up.
Iraida Yakovlevna: Come in!
Ilya: Can we turn off the television? Otherwise, our voices won't be heard.
I.Ya.: So, I've been living here for forty years. Forty years already.
I.Ya.: Forty. Well Natasha was... you know my daughter. She was in day care when I moved here, I moved here from the Nevsky District.
Ilya: I see.
I.Ya.: I moved here, I got this room.
Ilya: What was here when you first came here?
I.Ya.: Decent people.
Ilya: A lot of them?
I.Ya.: Almost as many as we have now. Now we also have a lot.
Ilya.: Did people get along? Were they friendly?
I.Ya.: How should I put it? It was all right, it was decent. We had a good apartment, a decent apartment. Usually there wasn't any yelling, and we didn't have any drunks, we didn't have any thieves, the neighbors were all decent people.
Ilya: You had a job here as a janitor?
I.Ya.: That's right
Ilya: With the housing office.
Ilya: Was it hard work?
I.Ya.: Oh, you bet, things were different then. I worked for seven years in the Nevsky District, seven, I think. And I worked here nine years. That's the story. And then my turn came to get housing, and I got this room, this one and the other... now I have two rooms.
Ilya: Oh. I had no idea.
I.Ya.: Two rooms. You had to work for ten years, and have ten years residence.
Ilya: I see.
I.Ya.: Ten years. When I had permanent residence and had worked ten years, at that point I got on the list, the city list. But the list worked all right then. I was on the list for five years.
Ilya: And that's how you got the second room..
I.Ya.: Yes, that's how. We had an empty room in the apartment here, and my daughter was 14, I think. When I got to the city bureau, I told them, "you know, we have an empty room, why can't I have that one?" So she says "Of course, what do I care? Your apartment is a really big one." So. Yes. "Except," she says, "you're going to have a lot of square meters. Right now you have 24, and that room is 20."
Ilya: For two people, that exceeds the legal norm.
I.Ya.: Yes. So. "Fine," she says, "What do I care, the more so that it's happening in such a big apartment." So. Anyway, it looked like she was allowing it, this woman, she says, "This month," she says, "the committee's going to meet— that's when I was standing there—"and I," she says, "will ask them if this can be done or not." And less than a week later, they already sent me a notice: come and fill out the forms for the room. So that's the story, that's how I got the room.
Ilya: Were you ever asked to exchange your rooms for a new apartment, to split up the apartment?
I.Ya.: I have no interest in a private apartment, because what would I do there—die? I have no interest in a private apartment, but of course my daughter does. She says, "Mama, if someone proposes something, I would like a studio apartment." I say, "fine." Sometimes people come to talk about breaking up the apartment. And this is what I say. I say, "She wants a studio, and I want a room, you know, a room in a communal apartment, only one with all the facilities, like a bathroom. Two or three other tenants, no more. But you know really this is all right. I've always lived in this collective farm here. As long as I've been in the city this is how I've lived. There's no reason for me to make trouble for anyone. I'm alone, there's no need for me to make trouble. Especially since my daughter won't be living with me. So. No, I'm not interested in my own apartment, though my daughter needs a studio. But nothing's working out. Right now she's got, she's living in a three-room apartment.
Ilya: I see.
I.Ya.: The two of them just bought a car together.
Ilya: They don't have children?
I.Ya.: No children. So you see. None. It's a big problem, that she has no children. She, you know, you know the store in Peace Square, there's a store there, Velikie Luki.
Ilya: Haymarket Square?
I.Ya.: Yes, that's the one. You come out of the metro, and you see it right away. That's what it's called, in red letters. I was only there once. She works there.