expand/collapse this text box Summary
In the kitchen of the apartment where Ilya used to live, Ilya and "Auntie" Asya talk about the difficulty of getting anything fixed.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Ilya: If something needs to be fixed, then you have to collect money. As a rule, this only happens when there's some kind of emergency, because it's hard to collect a large sum of money; not everybody is ready to pay. And somebody—usually the way it happens is that somebody in a communal apartment takes the responsibility. That is, somebody pays their own money to have the work done.

Slawomir: And the city doesn't…?

Ilya: The city, no. The city doesn't help. The city can supply workers to do the actual labor. But, say, if the people in the apartment buy pipes, the city will send two plumber-alcoholics to put the pipes in. It's not clear if they will put them in correctly or not. You can pay them extra, in fact they're counting on it, but, unfortunately, the local administration, these local authorities, they don't take the problem seriously. Take for example the roof. They'll say: "We won't fix your ceiling until we fix the roof." Which is not going to happen… Auntie Asya, it was seven years ago, right? That's when we had buckets on the floor here.

Auntie Asya: It's coming apart. There's a leak. It leaks. So they fix something, or maybe they don't. Two times they came and made repairs, some repair, they slapped on some plaster.

Ilya: They just plastered, nothing else?

Auntie Asya: They just plastered. And what's the point of plastering if the roof isn't fixed? It's the roof that leaks.

Ilya: Of course the roof has to be done first. And over here, by the way, this is a gas pipe, which used to go to the water heater. It wasn't the one we have now, it was a more old-fashioned kind. And here there was a hot-water faucet. And a cold-water faucet. And over there was another faucet. That is, there were three faucets. Now this sink is very old. It's not used any more because it leaks, but it used to be that people could wash dishes not only over there, but here, too.

Auntie Asya: And when I moved in, people even washed clothes here.

Ilya: Right, people used to wash clothes here too.

Auntie Asya: Yes, when I moved in. Then it was a perfectly clean sink.

Ilya: There are fewer people here now, so it's not so crucial that…

Auntie Asya: It absolutely is; the problem is that they're not fixing it for us. Here the floor has to be taken apart and something has to be done. Some kind of connector has to be changed and fixed.

Ilya: But that was a long time ago, Auntie Asya, this has been going on for fifteen years.

Auntie Asya: Nobody…More than fifteen, when I did the repairs, I mean in the bathroom, you were still living here. I did the bathroom, I did these things, too, and we finished the bathroom, and I got sick, my brother died, and I didn't do any of this anymore. Everything was ready to make a connection for the water. But nobody else in the apartment took responsibility. Nobody. Not one single person.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
Apartment I floor plan
Floor plan of the apartment from Tours 1-2 (all clips), home to "auntie" Asya, Ekaterina Sergeevna, Masha, Sveta, and Natasha. 2006.

Kitchen floor
The floor had to be repaired after a sewage pipe disintegrated: the pipe rusted completely through (see the story about this in the clip "Hallway & Kitchen" from Tour 1). 2006.

Faucets in a kitchen
One of these two faucets doesn't shut off, and a thin stream of water constantly flows. See the same faucets a year later. This kitchen is shown in Tours 1 and 2. 2006.

Old water heater
What was left of an out-of-commission water heater hung in this state for several years over the sink, where residents used to wash dishes. See also the photo, taken five years earlier. 1997.

Plaster has tumbled down from the ceiling
There was a leak in the kitchen and plaster came tumbling down, exposing the strips of lathe. There is a conversation about this in the clip "Hallway & Kitchen," Tour 1. 2007.

expand/collapse this text box Basic Facts and Background
When: Summer 2006

Where: The kitchen of an apartment in a five-story apartment building in the high-status historical center of St. Petersburg. At the time of filming, eight families lived in the apartment.

Who: 1) Ilya Utekhin, who lived in the apartment for around thirty years. At the time of filming, he still had a room here. 2) "Auntie" Asya, who has lived in this apartment over forty years; 3) Slawomir, who is filming.

What: Theoretically, repairs in common spaces are supposed to be carried out and paid for by the housing authority.

The small sink that we see here (you may see two, but one is non-functional) is the only one in the entire apartment. The water heater is the apartment's only source of hot water. It also heats water for the bathroom, but it cannot simultaneously heat water for the kitchen sink and the bathtub. Therefore, hot water can be used either in the kitchen sink or in the bathtub in the bathroom. Many tenants use this sink for washing their hands and brushing their teeth.

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