Thursday, June 22, 2006

Part of this ruin is visible from our kitchen window - but there's another, inhabited, building that separates us from it; otherwise, if we were closer to it, I wouldn't have agreed to spend my summer here.

There're many buildings like this everywhere in this part of the world, and each one has many human stories attached to it, and I've realized it only now, after our landlady had told me hers.

She was supposed to get a small apartment in that building. She has worked for the sanatorium for more than 20 years now, and the building was being built for the sanatorium employees. Several directors changed since the Soviet Union collapsed, she said, but none is really interested to find the money to finish the construction.

She's lucky her sanatorium is still functioning. Most seem to have been deserted.

It kind of makes me dizzy to think of it: one day, you're the lucky one, with the new apartment looming not on the horizon but almost next door - very lucky, unlike many others. Then you wake up in a different country, and for the next decade you keep waking up with the unfinished building slowly turning into a ruin right outside your window. And your apartment is in that building, never to be yours.

There're two rooms here, it's a very damp place, but in general it's okay, considering its gorgeous location. There used to be four of them living here, but their daughter has moved out. Now it's the landlady, her husband and their 12-year-old son.

And some 20 years ago, when the landlady just began working here, the apartment belonged to an old woman, and the landlady and her daughter (and, possibly, her husband) lived in the room Marta and I are in now, the smaller one (the other room is the TV room). The landlady was very nice to the old woman, and the old woman was very kind to her. She used to take the landlady's 4-year-old daughter for walks, despite being almost blind: "Put on that red dress, then I'll be able to see you," she used to tell the landlady's daughter. When the old woman died, she left the apartment to the landlady - not to her own son and his wife.


They have a dacha, by the way. They are at their dacha now, for the whole time we are renting their apartment and using it as our dacha.


There's some unfinished construction at the sanatorium, too: right next to the indoor swimming pool, an almost finished brick building that will never be finished. It was supposed to be a gym, I guess - a school-type gym with huge windows.

The ruin is very ugly, and it depresses me a lot - mainly because it reminds me of Beslan, of the school gym there and what they turned it into, and when I think of Beslan now, in my head there're the TV and photo pictures of the gym there, the ones that were broadcast and published, but also I see what I've read in C. J. Chivers' Esquire story, a reconstruction, very scary, an unforgettable read, dreadful scenes attached to the images, seeing for myself, from the inside, what I've been trying to imagine from way outside nearly two years ago.


  1. Beautiful, really.
    Thank you.

  2. Thank you Veronica,
    very interesting post, it made feel the emptiness of the place, I donno, but would you please write the meaning of some words you use, it seems not english words, e.g dacha, i didn't get its meaning.

    thank you again

  3. Beautiful photo, very good post. Thank you very much for your post in Global voice, sorry for not sending you something myself, got something to translate (and thus earn some extra money!) so was very busy these days. Once more thank you and all the best to you and your family!

  4. eyad--

    My Russian-English dictionary says the English word for ???? is "dacha". :-) The problem seems to be that nobody in English-speaking countries has a dacha, while everyone in Ukraine & Russia does.

    Other translations listed are "cottage" or "summer house". Basically, it's another house you have out in the country, and in the summertime everyone rides the electric train out to their summer house and plants potatoes there.