This storage room, the empty room, you see, it's no emptier than the storage rooms we have seen in other apartments. There are all sorts of unnecessary things here: clothing, old boxes, cartons—whatever people feel bad about discarding. Old furniture, well, to throw it out in... in the dump... that's work. People would sometimes sit in this room, have a cigarette. I remember not so long ago hanging out here and talking.
Ilya: What's interesting, if you look at the ceiling, is that the hook in the middle of the room is probably from a chandelier that once hung here, while over there, where the wire is, there's nothing but a bulb. This means that this wall wasn't always here. This used to be one large room, and the hallway we just walked through wasn't there either, it was a part of the room. You passed through this room and went on into the next room. Here there was a door, but it's blocked now. Now we can see from the ceiling that the middle, the middle of the room, was where the chandelier was. So the hallway was just a part of this room.
Ilya: They had to make a hallway, because the type of railroad apartment, in which one room leads into another, only works in a private, a separate apartment. In a communal apartment it would be untenable.
Sveta: I was just explaining which soap to use, and which towel to dry your hands on.
Slawomir: So tell us again.
Sveta: So everybody has their own space. For example, this space belongs to Anya and me and Ksyusha. So this space belongs to three girls. Even though girls use it, it's pretty dirty because we really don't clean it too often. So. As for soap, well, this soap is ours, and this soap, I don't even know whose it is because I never use it. And I don't know who all this stuff belongs to.
Slawomir: And which is yours?
Slawomir: Could you tell me which is yours?
Slawomir: How many people use this space?
Sveta: Let me count. Anya and me, that's two. Ksyusha, Tatyana, Serezha, Alla Ignatevna. This space is Alla Ignatevna's, so I never know what's here. And that's about it.
Slawomir: Does it ever happen that somebody takes your soap or..?
Sveta: Maybe it happens, but I don't pay attention, maybe somebody even uses my toothpaste, but... If, for example, I forget to buy toothpaste, if I've run out, I usually ask, say, Ksyusha, if I can use hers. And she does the same. But to take it without asking... not usually. Well I don't know, I don't do it, maybe somebody else does, but I just don't think about it. Now this space is, I think, Tatyana's; I mean, she actually moved in after we did. I mean, we were already living here, and she set up her space over here. She's pretty much the most concerned in having things set up nicely. She puts in things like this. None of this was here before. So. Or maybe she'll buy a new plastic cover. We had a problem with the shower attachment, but it was replaced recently, it's new, so everything's nice. So if the tub didn't look so awful, at least the water works.
Slawomir: Do you have hot water?
Sveta: As a general rule.
Slawomir: If you have to replace a big pipe like that one, who pays for it?
Sveta: That's complicated. I can't say. I think that if this room belonged to the government, I mean in total, then the Housing Office would pay because the Housing Office would own it, I mean the government would, but since now the rooms are being privatized, then I think that if all the rooms were privatized, then the neighbors would have to chip in, and everybody would pay their part. What's happening now, I think, is that people chip in anyway, so the government pays a part, since a part of it belongs to the government, and the neighbors pay their part. At least that's what I think. But since I'm more like a renter than a normal tenant, these issues... I simply don't concern myself with these issues.
Sveta: Recently we had a pipe burst, and Ksyusha's room was flooded; you can still see the stains on the ceiling.. So Ksyusha had to take all the furniture out of her room, fortunately it's a fairly small room, and she had to sleep in our room, which she did for a whole week, until the room dried. Because there was a damp smell; it was impossible to stay there. When the pipe burst here, what happened was we cleaned up, we washed the floor, we took Ksyusha's things out. Basically, all the neighbors were involved. Everybody was helping her out.
Sveta: I don't know, I don't think it's going to be fixed any time soon.
Slawomir: You don't know what?
Sveta: When it will be fixed, and if it will even be fixed at all any time soon.