Balcony, Country House, Garbage Can or the Lifecycle of Things
Balkon, dacha, pomoika (balcony, country house, garbage can) or the lifecycle of things
This phrase will instantly cause a smile on any Russian’s face. And will not be understood by a foreigner.
Soviet times of deficit of everything forced people to be frugal. An old, out-of-fashion or not used for a long time, unbroken or broken thing could easily have a second life some day. No idea when, but when this day comes – you will be happy you have not thrown it away.
However, apartments are small and Russians are normal people, who do not like hoarding. Now, at least in Moscow, paid storage facilities (very similar to ones in the US) have become available (although not used by vast majority of people). But back then no storages existed. A typical 3-room apartment had an “antresol” – a small storage unit, located under theceiling above the corridor from the apartment entrance to the kitchen. Typically, people stored valuable season-related things there – skates, camping tents etc. It was about 3 meters long and had two doors, oneon each side. When you needed to extract something from there, you had to guess whether the object is closer to one side or another. It was a project to find something there.
However, that storage unit was never enough and there were no other storage units inside an apartment and no shared storages in a building. So people used the next available storage – balcony. Climate here, as you know, is quite harsh and it snows a lot. Most balconies were non-glazed, therefore they could serve as a storage only in summer. Things that got to the balcony during summer were in danger of getting wet, frozen and spoiled during winter. So people moved them to a “dacha” (country house). Because one day, when you will really need these things – you will be happy you have them and it will be no trouble to drive to your dacha and bring the treasure back.
And only when there was no hope (or no place at tiny dachas) – the thing was moved to a garbage can. Quite often it was disassembled before thrown away and the most valuable parts were kept.
What is interesting – times of total deficit of everything ended almost 20 years ago. But even now generations of 30- or 40 – year-olds have troubles when dealing with clutter. Sometimes we just cannot throw away old things. I wonder whether people in their twenties have this problem as well or they are free from it…