Video Tours > Tour 2. Where I Used to Live > 6. Lavatory & Hallway
expand/collapse this text box Summary
In the apartment where he used to live, Ilya shows the two lavatories and the electric meter in the dark hallway.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Ilya: This is a potential trouble spot, because somebody who's a little out of it, who's drunk, can get it dirty. And somehow it has to get cleaned up. Who's going to do this? It's always an issue.

Ilya: It used to be that there were a lot of toilet seats in the apartment; every family had their own seat. But this seat is for general use. When you need it, you put it on the toilet. This place usually holds pieces of newspaper. We'll see them in the other toilet; there we'll see pieces of newspaper that are put on top of the seat, because the seat is for general use, and if you put newspaper on top, then it's like it isn't dirty.

Slawomir: Where's the toilet paper?

Ilya: People bring it with them. From their room. Also the toilet can get clogged if you throw paper into it. And unclogging it is another issue. The person on duty doesn't necessarily want to deal with it. He's not interested; it's his job to make sure things are clean, not to unclog a toilet. Sometimes people write notes on the wall with chalk, I've done it myself, that you shouldn't flush paper down the toilet because it will get clogged. There's another toilet over there.

Ilya: I remember, in the communal living rules, in the official rules, there was an incredible sentence, it said: "Pull the pullcord smoothly." This thing here is called a pullcord, and you had to pull it carefully and precisely or it would come off.

Ilya: There are two ladders here, for general use. They are used, first, to change bulbs. And second, this little ladder is good for taking readings from the electric meter. Next to every door, we'll see this in a minute, next to every door is a meter.

Ilya: Everybody pays for their own electricity that they use in their own family in their room, and that electricity is measured by this meter. Every month the person on duty reads the meters. He climbs up on the ladder and takes a reading... If the light is dim, and it usually is, then they light a match and do this: 28831.

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.

Sheets of newsprint to spread on the toilet seat
This pouch on the inside of the lavatory door holds sheets of newsprint to be spread on the toilet seat. We see this lavatory in the clip "Lavatory & Hallway," Tour 2. The apartment from Tours 1 and 2. 2007.

Shelves in the lavatory
The "second" lavatory shown in the clip "Lavatory and Hallway," Tour 2. Traces of the sink which used to be here can be seen below the shelves. The cartons are of recent origin: in the USSR instant coffee was a rare item. 2007.

Entryway and hallway
Entryway and hallway with communal phone, table, and chair. We see "Auntie" Asya speaking on the phone in this same hallway in the clip "The Empty Room" (Tour 2), filmed 9 years after this photograph was taken. 1997.

The floor of a poorly lit hallway, leading from the entrance to the kitchen. 1997.

Slippers on an bookcase
Slippers are placed on this little bookcase near the door leading from the entryway into a room. This is the apartment seen in Tours 1 and 2. 2006.

Cabinets and clutter in the entryway
Junk on top of cabinets in front of the entrance to the "empty" room (Tours 1 & 2). An earlier photo shows fewer things. The storage units, locked, hold clothing. The cartons are of recent origin. 2007.

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

Where: The lavatories and hallway of an apartment in a five-story building in the high-status historical center of St. Petersburg. At the time of filming, eight families lived in the apartment. There was a time when eleven families (around fifty people) lived here.

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) Slawomir, who is filming.

What: We see the two lavatories that belong to the apartment. Neither has a sink, although one of them did have a sink a long time ago. (When it broke, nobody bothered to fix it.) There are two places in the apartment where you can wash your hands: the sink in the kitchen and the faucet over the bathtub in the bathroom.

The paper that Ilya refers to when he talks about the toilet getting clogged are strips of newspaper that some tenants put on the toilet seat before sitting down. Toilet paper is flushed down the toilet.

The white grid drawn in pesticide chalk on the wall is meant to repel cockroaches.

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