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Curious Russian: neighbors (соседи)

After 8 hours of daily work and half an hour of commute it’s finally home, sweet home. You live in a typical nine-floor concrete panel building in второй подъезд (second entrance) on восьмой этаж (8th floor) in one of the Russian cities.

You are waiting silently for the elevator standing next to a middle-aged man whom you never seen or maybe just don’t remember. It doesn’t matter because he isn’t considered your neighbor and most of the people living in the same house don’t even say hello to each other if they are not acquainted.

But someone enters the lobby and starts smiling when sees you. That’s Misha your знакомый (acquaintance). You start chatting and he says he came to his old friend who recently moved to the 6th floor. You enter the elevator together with a silent middle-aged man and you ask if алкоголики из восемьдесят пятой (alcoholic family from the flat 85) are still living there on the 6th floor. Misha says he doesn’t know them but one of his friend’s neighbors seems to have a really bad looking door so maybe that’s them. You have some bad memories about that family from a couple years ago when there was a huge скандал (scandal) on the 6th floor with bailiffs and loud screams.

Middle-aged man leaves on the 5th floor and Misha says bye on the 6th. You go up to the 8th.

Some old lady is waiting for the elevator. You saw her a couple times but know nothing about her. By exchanging simple здрасьте (hello) and not looking at each other you avoid any conversation.

There are six flats on your floor and the old lady is kind of your neighbor because she is from the same floor. But she lives on the opposite side of the entryway and you don’t often talk to people “from the other side”.

You have two other flats where your соседи (neighbors) live. There are соседи напротив (neighbors from the opposite flat) a young couple with a daughter. You know Sasha and Yulia by names and sometimes talk about stuff like квартплата (electricity bills etc) or отопление (central heating) when meeting them. And there is сосед слева (neighbor from the left side flat) a 60 year old man who lost his wife and with children who visit him once in a while. Mitrich sometimes knocks to your door to ask for stuff like salt or oil. But he actually just comes to tell you some news that amazed him recently and you try not to get too deep into his favorite topics like politics, salaries and elections.

But the neighbor you are reminded about the most often is your соседка сверху (neighbor from the upstairs flat) a young mother with a 3-year-old son. She is мать одиночка (single mother) with lots of problems and a very loud child. You remember well him crying at nights when he was a baby and your bathroom’s walls still have the trails of his mother forgetting to turn off the tap. She затопила (flooded) you five times and that was the reason for you to get acquainted with her two years ago.

Though that’s alright compared to the stories Sasha and Yulia tell you about their new upstairs flat neighbors who can turn on the music at night to the full volume so that even you can hear it and remember with gratefulness the times when your neighbor’s son was gently awakening you with his cries.

Still you consider yourself happy and tell everybody about how good are your neighbors because you still remember some of the ones you had at your previous place. The бабка (old lady) who used to complain about you playing music too loud even if you don’t even have a piano or the neighbor with a drill who seemed to be in the constant state of renovation...

Curious Russian blog

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May 15, 2015



I decided to experiment with storytelling. Wanted to give some insight into the local realities and help learners with some vital vocabulary. Sorry if my narrative and vocabulary are too unsophisticated=)


The story sounds as if it could just as well be located in a concrete block suburb in Finland. Except that here in Finland you don't typically have this much to do with your neighbours.


Great read! I love the idea of giving us some insight into Russian life while introducing some vocabulary. For me, what makes language learning so compelling is learning about about the culture and mentalities of a people at the same time.


Tell us about бабки на лавочке (old ladies on a bench) who diagnose prostitution and drug addiction.


А вот в Питере "вторая парадная" ;)


Этнографические и лингвистические особенности отдельных городов это целая тема=)


I love the story! And it's totally, totally true!


Gosh, although I liked it, too, I was hoping it would be over the top and not realistic at all. How depressing.


I like this!

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