On The Dacha
A weekend of tranquility
This past weekend I was on the dacha, and I had a great time. Yes, you go
on the dacha. The Russians use the term “na dachu” this literally means “on
the dacha.” Since the dacha is usually a small hut, or one room house surrounded
by a field of crops, it is similar to our expression of “on the farm.” The
crops are still the main food source for the entire country past the
state-subsidized cabbage and bread. Everywhere you can see babushkas
(grandmothers) with fresh potatoes, carrots,
squash, dill, and anything else they grow on the
dachas for sale along the roads, metro’s and shops all over Russia.
It is amazing how much can be produced by weekend trips by working couples
and summer trips by grandmothers!
Serge and Laura cooking up a storm!
The dacha is usually located near water, be it a lake, river, or sea, and
in a strange twist, the land is not owned by user. Dachas, well the land,
are usually doled out to members of a soviet, or union, so you will find
all the workers at a plant in the same dacha settlement. My Zelenograd host
family has a dacha apartment with other people whose fathers or grandfathers
were in the same military unit, while my friends in St. Petersburg have a
dacha with other coaches of Olympic sports (the father is a rowing coach
and one time member of the Russian Olympic team). Now dachas can be apartments
in a group of buildings as my Zgrad family, or in a new “subdivision” where
all the dachas are still under construction, like my St Pete friends.
Being near a lake, and surrounded by valuable cropland,
dachas are fiercely fought over, but usually passed down generations with
the children sharing the parent’s dacha. Also, a very casual atmosphere prevails.
Some dachas, like the St Pete one, don’t have running water, others like
the Zgrad one were the retirement homes of the grandparents, but neither
requires more than a pair of shorts and swim trunks.
The unfinished dacha near St Pete.
I got into a great discussion with the St Pete family about Americans and
dachas. First dacha was one of the few words I knew in Russian last year
besides yes, no, thanks, and please. After being asked why, I theorized it
was from the political news where the Russian leaders where always at the
dacha. Second, they were surprised that Americans don’t have dachas. We have
summer homes, but those are few, and usually rented (well at least among
my friends). I think it is the relative low cost of housing here (less than
10% of income) that allows for second homes, while American costs (+25%)
hinder second home ownership. Also, we have no need to grow secondary crops.
Our food prices are relatively low, and gardening is a hobby in the states,
not a necessity. Finally, there is no way you can get an American to work
with someone for 40+ hours a week then go out of town that weekend to live
next to the same people. We are way too independent!
I do enjoy going on the dacha, and if anyone ever offers to take you to one,
do NOT hesitate. It will be a warm and enjoyable experience, look below for
where Yeltsin lives. Just don’t drink too much of granddad’s moonshine!
2 February 1998, via Johnson’s Russia List
Health a Factor in Yeltsin’s Choice of Residence
By Reuters News Wire
MOSCOW – Russian President Boris Yeltsin, recovering from a stomach ulcer,
has shuttled between different homes, hospitals and sanatoriums in recent
years, depending on his state of health. Here is a short guide to the places
GORKY-9 – Yeltsin’s main residence since 1996 has been a small
three-storey beige building on a small hill nestled among thick woods beyond
the Ring Road west of Moscow. A satellite dish — a sign of the extensive
communications inside — is prominently placed on the roof.
The president holds many of his official meetings in Gorky-9, situated 15
km (nine miles) west of Moscow, and is often pictured sitting in elegant
chairs near drab white wallpaper. The building is close to the city and he
is within easy reach of the Kremlin.
RUS COUNTRY RESIDENCE — When Yeltsin plans to be away from Moscow
for at least several days he often goes to this two-storey structure in the
government recreation compound at Zavidovo, about 150 km (90 miles) north
of Moscow. Surrounded by woods, the residence has large windows and fireplaces
BARVIKHA SANATORIUM – A muddy-brown three-storey sanatorium with an
institutional look, Barvikha is usually home to Yeltsin when his health is
more fragile. it is about seven km (four miles) west of Moscow is well-equipped
to monitor Yeltsin’s health and offer him all round medical help. It is said
to have an intensive care ward.
Yeltsin has spent considerable time there in recent years after undergoing
heart surgery and suffering from pneumonia, exhaustion and other ailments.
He was at Barvikha on Tuesday recovering from his ulcer.
Other Kremlin officials also use the facilities, in an area west of the capital
where many Muscovites have weekend homes.
CENTRAL CLINICAL HOSPITAL – A Moscow hospital open to all who can
afford its high prices, it has hosted Yeltsin on numerous occasions. He left
most recently last weekend after receiving treatment for an ulcer. Yeltsin
has presidential suite in the hospital with several rooms resembling a
well-appointed apartment. In November, while recovering from pneumonia there,
he met Chinese President Jiang Zemin in a rare “hospital summit.”
THE KREMLIN – The walled fortress home to
the main presidential offices, the Kremlin has seen less of the president
of recent years than in his first term. It has and apartment but Soviet leader
Josef Stalin was the last to stay in the Kremlin full-time.
MOSCOW APARTMENT – Yeltsin has a 323-square-metre, four-room apartment
on Osennaya Street in the relatively leafy Krylatskoye section of western
Moscow but he appears rarely to use it. According to the Kremlin, the family
of his youngest daughter Tatyana, who is a presidential adviser, lives there
with her family. Yeltsin uses the address for his official voting registration.
DACHA – In 1995 Yeltsin and his wife Naina bought four hectares (10
acres) of land in an undisclosed area outside Moscow and built a 452-square-metre
dacha country home. He appears to go there rarely, if at all