Communal Living in Russia: Documents
Notes Left for Neighbors: A note about the kitchen window
  One resident asks another not to open the kitchen windows. 2005.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: winter 2005

Where: A midsized apartment in the center of St. Petersburg.

What: In communal kitchens the ventilation is almost never adequate. If something has burned in a skillet, the kitchen is generally aired out by opening the window. (In the old days, people would open the door to the apartment at the same time to get a cross breeze going, but nowadays this could be dangerous.)

The person who wrote the note mentions that the "windows are not sealed." Wooden window frames usually do not fit their housing and there are chinks, so during the cold season these chinks are sealed or covered to winterize the space (for example, by taping strips of paper over them). Windows which have been sealed for the winter are not opened. In the kitchen (and in common areas generally) winterizing would require a coordinated effort by the residents or an individual initiative; it is simpler not to winterize. As it turns out, there is a positive aspect to an unwinterized space: the clean air which gets in through the chink.

  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  [name deleted by editor], please
stop turning the kitchen and the whole apartment into a "glacier."
It's just "you and me" here, we don't cook much, the windows
aren't sealed, and the air is fairly clean.
Besides, you really should
ask. I can't stand the cold, I
simply get sick. You can air out your
room as much as you like,
but as to the common areas,
you need to take other people into account. We live in the
North, we don't have much warm weather, and I like it warm.
[signature deleted by editor]

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