Video Tours > Tour 5. Our Neighbors > 1. Kamila, Lena, and Yulya
expand/collapse this text box Summary
Three tenants of a large communal apartment talk about their neighbors. We see their rooms, the kitchen, the smoking space, and the place to dry clothes.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Galya: Over the course of the night they spread their filth on everything they could. Dashka had guests yesterday. You get the picture. And everything had been perfectly clean.

Kamila: At work almost every day people ask me how many rooms we have, how many tenants. Every day I promise myself that I'll do a count. Nine rooms. As for tenants, there are more, because there are two or three people in each room. Next to me live my favorite—quote—neighbors, who get rowdy at night. Next to them lives our neighbor, the fat lady. Next to her, of course, lives Natashka with her brother, or more like, more like, more like her brother was living with her, and now he's in his own room. Natashka is young, she's a year older than me. Next to them, I mean to her, is Lena, an artist.

Lena: I've been here, I think, five or six years. A totally crazy apartment, long hallways, parquet. The old timers say that the parquet used to be kept polished and was always clean, in contrast to the present situation. And everybody's having it out with each other, everybody's dissatisfied with something, everybody's sorting out their relations, somebody wants to figure out why something's done one way and not the way he wants. Why the toilet smells like cigarette smoke. Why, like, it's dirty there or whatever. And sometimes everybody's fine with everything. And sometimes you can be walking through this huge apartment and you won't run into anybody.

Lena: So this is mine. The door in the corner. And two windows. Further down live Natasha and Egor. After that are the Lobanov girls. Across from the Lobanov girls are their parents. Further down: Valentina Ivanovna, the Mironovs, and Yulya.

Savva: I got him in the foot.

Ilya: Something that really struck me recently. I knew that he was a very good writer, I read two of his books that haven't been translated into Russian. Amin Maalouf.

Yulya: What language does he write in?

Ilya: He writes in French. His first book is a history of the Crusades, written from an Arab point of view. That is, through the eyes of Arabs. And it's written like a novel, it reads like a novel, it's simply...

Yulya: That's because it is a novel, probably...

Yulya: Don't any of your friends have a fireplace?

Ilya: Well, not the kind where you can....

Yulya: You can use any fireplace to smoke in. You open the damper, that's all. It takes the smoke away.

Ilya: I'll keep that in mind. I mean, the next time, the next time I run across a fireplace somewhere, I'll ask, "Can I..?"

Yulya: Of course, theoretically, it was used for heating, but the way it is, at the present time, when we have people living upstairs, it's not possible to light it, simply because they crammed a log down the chimney when they renovated. So for almost two years now we can't make a fire. Even though, in general, we've had fairly cold winters, and it always saved us. The upstairs neighbors know about the problem, the same way that they know about all the other problems they made for us, but the upstairs neighbors, so to speak, prefer to preserve their image as naive people who don't understand, for example, that putting wood up a chimney could create problems for anyone. Or that a leaking roof could create problems. I simply think that it's everybody's personal choice, to notice or not to notice that there are other people living in the building.

Lena: And this is where Vitaly and Aza live... I keep forgetting her patronymic. Here's the toilet. And further on is the big, this big kitchen. Here's the smoking space, here's the service staircase, here's the drying room, the drying room, and a window into the courtyard.

Kamila: We have one neighbor, I don't know how old she is, I think, over eighty, who's been living alone for a year now. Her husband died and I, well, simply, she naturally told me all about her life, you know? And I see that she looks for an occasion to—she lives next to the kitchen—when somebody is in the kitchen, doing something, she often comes in, you know, just to talk, even about something really trivial. And it happens sometimes that I get up and go into the kitchen, say on Saturday, you know, on a day off, and I'm not in the mood to socialize with anybody, just not. And somebody, you know, somebody else is in a completely opposite condition, right? They want to chat, and I don't want to offend them, and the whole thing is a little painful.

Kamila: Closer to the kitchen lives Egor, Natasha's brother, next to him is Galya, and next to her... you see, I can't remember her name and patronymic... it's still complicated for me... lives the...uh...aforementioned grandma.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
Several black-and-white photographs here show the hallway and kitchen as they were ten years ago.

Apartment IV floor plan
Floor plan of the apartment that is home to Kamila, Lena, and Yulya from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5). 2006.

Entrance to a large apartment
Each family has its own doorbell, and in addition there is a common bell for the entire apartment, to which everyone is supposed to respond. This apartment is shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5). 2002.

Different neighbors, different doorbells
As new residents move in, they are assigned doorbells and nameplates which belonged to previous residents. They then make them over as they see fit. 2003.

Entryway with carved arch and wallpaper
Entryway of the apartment in "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. For the same entrance hall in 1997, see "Entrance hall, arch, wallpaper." 2003.

A door that has been through a lot
The door in the carved arch in the apartment entry from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5, bears the marks of several fights among residents and guests. 2002.

Carved arch in the entryway
A carved arch in the entryway of this large apartment, shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5), is protected by the government. 2002.

On the cabinet, overflow from the storage room
Junk on the cabinet in the apartment entryway seen in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5). 2002.

Wallpaper and an old-fashioned electric cord
Bits of original decor (under government protection) look as they did 80 years ago. The electric cord has not been replaced in over 50 years. The apartment from "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 2002.

A door which is always locked
This door in the entryway of the large apartment from the videoclip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5) is always locked. The rooms were redesigned in such a way that the door is not used. 2002.

Curtain and wires
The wires for the doorbells, telephone, and TV antenna run above the curtain covering the door to a room where some residents live. Apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

Rent and telephone bills
Rent and phone bills brought up by the janitor have been placed in front of the mirror in the entryway. See the close up with explanations. The apartment is from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 2003.

In the hallway
In one of two hallways in this apartment, a resident is doing something next to his door. Apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

In this hallway next to the residents' rooms there are coat racks, shelves for shoes, and all sorts of stuff including a refrigerator, freeing up more space in the rooms. Apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

Slippers in the hallway
Beer bottles on a trunk, a birch log and slippers in a communal hallway. The apartment is from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

Shoes, boots, and slippers in the hallway
Some tenants leave their coats and shoes in the hallway, by the door to their room. 1997.

Electricity corner
The wires and meters in this apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5) were installed at different times: the prewar twisted double-stranded wire with ceramic insulators was never removed. 2002.

Bathroom with a window
The bathroom of the apartment from "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5; one pane of glass has been replaced by paper sheeting. See also "Bath sponges hanging in the bathroom." 1998.

The "empty" room
Old furniture, boxes, and bicycles: the typical contents of a common closet in the apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. See also the closer shot photo. 1997.

A written request to neighbors
In the "empty" room in the apartment shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," (Tour 5) there is something fragile under the carpet. 1998.

Lena and her pictures
Lena, who is an artist, moved into this apartment several years ago. The apartment is shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 2006.

Kamila by the piano
This antique mirrored cabinet and upright piano are in the room rented by Kamila, who is featured in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya." 2006.

A loft in Yulya's room
A loft in Yulya's room, seen in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5, increases usable space; the person sitting up in the loft is Yulya's son Savva. 2006.

Kamila, Great Dane, leaves
Kamila visiting her landlady and her landlady's son. This apartment and some of its residents are shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. The leaves glued to the wall are Yulya's original design and handiwork. 2006.

View of a room which has been partitioned
This is how Kamila's room from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5, appeared in 1997. A look at the ceiling reveals that the space here was partitioned into several separate areas.

A basin on the parquet.
The leak is the fault of the upstairs neighbors who are doing renovations. This apartment is shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya" (Tour 5); see an interview with the woman who lives in this room. 2002.

Kitchen in a large apartment
View of a communal kitchen with its exit to the back staircase; it is set up as a place for people to smoke. See the same kitchen several years later. 1997.

Two sinks (close-up)
Two sinks with hot water in the kitchen of a large apartment (clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5). See the same sinks in 1997. 2006.

Door to the service staircase
View from the kitchen to the extension, designated as a place for smoking. The door leading to the service staircase has been stripped for painting. We see this apartment in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya." 2006.

Dishes, telephone, and a place to hang notes
In the kitchen shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5: cable radio, a list related to collecting monthly payments, and a cleaning schedule. 2006.

Kitchen extension
The passage leading to a separate part of the kitchen of the large apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya." 2006.

Kitchen window
A kitchen shelf and the view from the window of the kitchen shown in the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 2006.

Two elderly residents in the kitchen
Life in the kitchen: residents, saltcellars on the wall, and a serving table. Apartment from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

A room for drying laundry
This apartment has a special room next to the kitchen for drying laundry; basins are kept here. The apartment is from the clip "Kamila, Lena, and Yulya," Tour 5. 1997.

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

Where: A large apartment in a prestigious neighborhood in the center of St. Petersburg. More than 15 people lived here at the time of the filming.

Who: Galya, has been living in this apartment for many years (greets Ilya at the door); Kamila, a student from Poland, who came to Petersburg as a volunteer worker in a residence for disabled children; she rents a room here; Lena, an artist, has been living here for a relatively short time (six years); Yulya, who has been living here for a few years, and her son Savva.

What: Lena and Yulya have decorated their rooms in their own style, to a great extent with their own hands. Lena fixed up and painted the sideboard in her room; Yulya herself did the walls in the room with the fireplace. The upstairs neighbors who are renovating are not bothering only Yulya, by blocking her chimney. Another room in this apartment has to have buckets on the floor, to catch the water pouring from upstairs. That room belongs to an older lady, "the apartment grandma" mentioned by Kamila. You can watch an interview with her in the clip "The Oldest Tenant Remembers." There you will find references to photographs of her room, which we do not see in the clip.

The people in this clip refer to the apartment's smoking space, kitchen and drying room. Various photos in our collection show views of the hallway and the entrance hall, as well as the bathroom.