Featured Photos #6 – Old Ladies

One thing I love about Russia is the sense of community.  Even though Moscow is a huge city, in every local neighbourhood, in almost every block of flats, there are groups of women who are often outside together, chatting about God knows what. Spending time with each other. Sharing gossip maybe.

Not so different from your neighbourhood, probably.

But it just feels different from an Australian neighbourhood. 

Here, they sit outside their buildings, all year round (yes, even in winter, but less often and less long), with their neighbours, and discuss whatever old women discuss.  They seem serious, but occasionally they’ll burst out laughing at something. 

They can be in groups of 2, 3 or more.

Sometimes they sit, and sometimes they stay standing because they’re on their way somewhere, or just getting home from somewhere.

I’ve never stopped to chat with any of them, except to ask for directions once or twice.  They would have known that I wasn’t Russian by my bad Russian language skills, but they’ve never asked where I’m from.

I’ve seen so many of these women over the years, gathered together at the entrance of their buildings. But I haven’t taken many photos of them.  It’s because I’m too afraid to ask them for permission (it’s how my ‘look behind you’ photo series started).  So, I often just walk past them, thinking how great they would look in a photo – a slice of Russian life. Sometimes I walk past them slowly, savouring the scene, storing the picture in my head, knowing I won’t have a photo of it but wanting to keep the memory forever anyway.

old ladies

On the day in this photo, in a Moscow outer suburb called Dedovsk, I saw these women who were gathered in front of some flats, and took the chance of getting a photo of them.  And it worked.  They didn’t see me, so they were completely natural.

You can also see the garden, on the right hand corner, an old-fashioned tyre creature. I’ve written about Russian gardens for you here. There are some really interesting ones here!

This really is one of my favourite photos. 

Do you have a feeling of community where you live?  Do elderly people spend time outside, in common public areas, together and chat about anything and everything?

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

22 thoughts on “Featured Photos #6 – Old Ladies”

  1. Not much of a sense of community on my street – everyone always seems so busy going somewhere or another! Kind of sad actually! Thanks for sharing with us at The Blogger’s Pit Stop!

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    1. Hi Roseann, yes, I know what you mean. It’s the same in Australia. Nobody has time for anybody, and everyone keeps to themselves. Doors locked and curtains closed tightly. It’s lovely here in Russia, everyone is always outdoors, especially the old women. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your week. 🙂

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  2. Scarily those women don’t actually look that much older than me! We don’t have people sitting outside all year round, but we do have lots of people who walk around our neighbourhood and who stop for chats. I know dozens of people in the area because I walk and say Hi and pause for a conversation if they’re feeling like one. My husband (the introvert) says he’d know no-one if it wasn’t for my socializing! I’d probably do okay in Russia judging by your photo – maybe not in Winter though! 🙂

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    1. Oh Leanne, you look nothing like these old women, although you’re just as lovely. I really love that about Moscow and Russia, it’s really a community. Of course it means that everyone knows everyone else’s business, which I don’t like, but there’s something really positive about these women and their behaviour. I also wouldn’t know anyone if it wasn’t for Olivier’s socialising and ‘pushing’ me to meet people. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those old ladies sitting outside the flats with my friends! 🙂

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  3. I love this idea Cheryl and I’m the same about asking for people’s permission. This way you get them in their natural stance and they don’t even realise it! Well done 🙂

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    1. Hi Debbie, I’ve learnt to be super fast at taking photos! It’s not easy because I use a camera, and not a smartphone, so it’s more visible. But I love the results! I’ll be looking out for more opportunities here in Bulgaria. Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again soon. 🙂

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  4. There is never anyone outside in my neighbourhood. I think the older Russian women have kept their lives simple and neighbours and friendships are important to them. Our local council has recently installed a playground near my house and I force my grandson ( he never wants to go but is always happy when we are there) to go so I can talk to all the people that go there with their children. I have met a lot of grandmothers that look after their grandchildren during the day.

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    1. Hi Veronica, I think it’s sad that there’s nobody outside much these days. Where I used to live in Australia it’s the same – nobody anywhere. They’re all in their cars, even for a 2 minute trip to the shop. So pleased that you’ve got a playground to visit and talk to the other grandmothers there, that’s just what we need more of. Nice to see you here at Born in a Car (I believe it’s your first time here if I’m not mistaken), welcome, and hope to see you again. 🙂

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  5. Great story with pics! In the early days of COVID and lockdown in NSW where we had to stay home unless going out for essential reasons (food, dr etc) we had more people outside and walking than I have ever seen here.

    Back in the 1950s, my late grandfather would sit outside his place, or near the front gate, just to say ‘g’day and catch up with those walking by.

    We do need to connect more but most of us here in my part of Australia stay inside our own places and wave to others as we leave to go somewhere by car!

    Thank you for linking up this week for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is 36/51 Taking Stock #4 7.9.2020 and I hope to see you there too. Take care, stay safe and well. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse, thanks for taking a look at my post. This photo is actually one of my all-time favourites. 🙂 It’s the same in Perth where I used to live and my family still do – everyone in their ‘little boxes’ with their doors locked, speaking to nobody. It’s very sad. I love the sense of community I see in Russia and now here in Bulgaria. You take care, too, Denyse, and I hope you’re enjoying the weekend. 🙂

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      1. back again…and I loved re-reading what I had to say…

        Thanks so much for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, we are #11 and the optional prompt is Floral. Hope to see you there and in the meantime, may you be well, may you be safe and may you be content. Denyse.

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  6. Great photo and story, Cheryl. Yes, I feel a sense of community where I live. I talk to my neighbours. Since COVID-19 started, we chat by phone and when I see them outside, we stop and chat while keeping a safe distance. #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Natalie, it’s nice to have that feeling of community, isn’t it? So many people have never spoken to their neighbours. I do enjoy this now, although it wasn’t really a normal thing to do when I lived in Australia. It’s nice to be ‘there’ for support if someone needs us. Hope you’re having a great week!

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  7. We do! And neighbours all chip in so elderly people can stay at home (checking in, doing their groceries, sorting out issues). It’s nice. And you can’t walk the dog with out bumping into someone and having a chat!

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    1. Hi Lydia, I love it that you’re so in touch with your neighbours. I think in most places it’s something that’s been forgotten, but it’s nice to see that it hasn’t been lost completely. Dogs are great for socialisation! It sounds like you live in a lovely neighbourhood.

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    1. Hi Melissa, thanks for stopping by and commenting on my photo. I agree, we sometimes miss some great photo moments because we now have the ability to take thousands of them without thinking (or paying a fortune to get them developed like we used to). A few years ago I had all my favourite photos printed and put them on a wall in my living room. It was great to see them everyday, instead of ‘locked away’ inside my computer where I couldn’t see them without actively looking for them. Hope you’re having a lovely week.

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  8. I wonder if it’s because the city is more densely populated so people cluster together more easily? I’ve been to other places in Europe that have been similar – where everyone lives in apartment buildings and so pass each other or have smaller places in which to entertain and host others? I’m in a house here in Oz and on a large block so don’t really see my neighbours at all!

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    1. Hi Deborah, I do think it’s because they’re all clustered together in apartment buildings. But it’s also the culture in Russia and in eastern Europe in general. In Bulgarian villages most people have a bench outside their houses, much like the one in this photo, and if you sit on it everyone who passes stops by for a chat. They will even sit down with you for a while and rest their legs. It’s lovely to feel part of a community, which I never felt when I lived in Australia. Thanks for visiting Born in a Car, I hope you’re having a great week!

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