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Old Women in Russia - Babushkas - Who Are They

The old ladies are very noticeable in Russia, they're called 'Babushkas'.
You can't come to Russia without meeting them, as they seem to spend their days outside. They join together for a chat on the benches in

Two intellegent elder women in Vladimir, Russia
front of their homes, or they walk their dog in the parks. Because they are in every public place, they contribute to making the cities feel safe, even in the evening.
In the West, the grannies are often seen as feeble and afraid of crossing the street alone, or getting stolen their handbag. In Russia, Babushkas manage by themselves and make themselves respected. They often tell people off in the metro, fight their way to get a seat in a crowded bus, pass in front of the others in the lines at the bank.
They grew up during the hard times of the war and never miss a chance to remind people about that.
Most of them live still with their children and grandchildren, homes being expensive in big cities. They take care of their grandchildren, and sometimes work also for other families as nannies or home-help.
Babushkas selling cigarettes in front of a metro station / photo by Alexander Reshetilov (c)
They get a very low State pension (1500 R =$50 US per month), so they often find small jobs, which will let them earn a bit more. Some Babushkas choose to do government jobs in public places, which let them earn something like twice more than if they were only on their pension. So you will see them keeping the metro, sitting in the museums, cleaning the railways..
And some Babushkas find other ways of making money.
-- For example, they wait for travelers arriving at railway stations in St Pete, and propose them to live at their apartment. Sometimes they are honest nice grannies who let you sleep in their cozy Soviet flat, sometimes they give you a false set of keys and when you get
Russian Ladies Walking
to the flat, it seems to be the wrong door, but the Babushka is already far away with your money.. -- In big cities, many Babushkas grow vegetables in their garden outside of the city, and sell them in the streets or next to Metro stations. In Summer, they sell fresh stuff like cucumbers, parsley, berries and in Winter: jarred mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, jams. -- On the transsiberian stops, a lot of Babushkas come and sell to the travelers: warm home-baked cakes filled with potatoes or cabbage, special sweet waffles, bags of tomatoes and boiled potatoes, smoked or salted Baikal fish... It can be very tasty.
In Moscow, on weekends, they dress up well and meet in Izmailovski Park for dancing and singing parties. Old men 'Dedushkas' play accordion, and Babushkas sing and dance traditional Russian songs. It's worth to go and see how they party outdoors in the park. To know more and listen to some recordings see our report at Russian Folk Music

Read further: Part 4 - Russian Brides

Your Comments
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Comment (posted on 9/12/02): "Noone has commented here yet, so I will. Please respect Russian women, both old and young. Do not think that, since Russia is poor, the women there are simple and easy-access. Be ready to find out that a woman you are talking to is in fact smarter than you. Older Russian women had indeed endured exceptionally hard times during the Second World War, you cannot imagine anything close even in your worst nightmares. Forget your school history textbooks that say "Russia won the War because of winter" -- it is a cold-war lie. These babushkas, their brothers and fathers, their husbands are the ones who protected the world, and your wealth too, from destruction. They have learned many deep truths about life, and by the way they have read lots of books too, and good books, including translated American books. It will be fun if a poorly-dressed babushka that sits beside you in a train has read more American literature than you :) Or does she stand beside you? Then, please, stand up and offer her your seat. Thanks."

Comment (23/06/03): "I have visited Russia 3 times (once as a student for 4 months), and I love Russia and the complex Russian culture. This site is full of such great cultural observations and from a Russian herself! Thank you for taking the time to make this site so comprehensive and honest!"
Answer: Thank you for enjoying it!

Comment (23/11/03): "This site is very informative and an absolute pleasure to view. Very informative and entertaining all at the same time. I look forward to the visit. Thank-you for the help. See-Ya!!!"

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