A Moscow metro pulled in and out of the station, but these two girls remained sitting at the back of the empty platform around midnight, playing with their phones as they waited for a friend. They said they were sisters, born in Kyrgyzstan but living in Moscow already many years. The girl on the left said she was studying humanities at a university. ''I want to be a choreographer. I love dancing, especially street dance.'' Her older sister was studying law.
I have passed a small antique kiosk nearly every day for the past year as I walk to and from the metro station. I finally popped in to find out about the owner and the business. Alexei, 25, said he first set up a website with a friend to sell antiques four years ago. The business has grown…
”We believed we had a good idea,” Yana said from her coffee kiosk near a major metro station that opened at the end of October. ”The most difficult thing was to take the plunge and leave our comfortable jobs. Our business has now become our life. It occupies us 24 our a day, even when we sleep.”
Elena, 32, is a single mother of a two-year old boy and runs her own small, independent translating agency in Rostov from an old apartment converted into an office. Due to the influx of Ukrainian refugees into Rostov, her company has been busy translating Ukrainian documents such as passports and marriage certificates into Russian. Elena said she rarely hears from the father of her child. He lives in the far northeast of Russia that lies across from Alaska. ''It is difficult to be alone, but I can't say that my life is hard. I always have someone that helps me, like my mother,'' she said.
It was one of those scenes that screams ‘Russia!’ An old, abandoned redbrick warehouse with no roof or windows stood along the Don River. Inside the building, up to the first storey, was relatively warm water. It was coming from an underground source. Graffiti was written on part of the inside brick walls. And inside the water, a woman was swimming despite the sign saying it was prohibited.
Vadim, 40, opened Bukovsky, named after the German-American author, in a former Rostov tobacco factory, one of his 11 restaurants. He doesn't plan on stopping there. Vadim plans to open a 12th dedicated to Belgium beer with the dishes corresponding to various beer brands. He says the most difficult thing about running a restaurant is getting through the first 18 months.
He was wearing a NYC winter hat as he walked around Rostov's center with a friend. He asked not to have his face photographed....certain people could see the photo, he said, without going into detail. He called himself a 'Rostov-Don Crocodile' and offered me some bubble gum that he was holding between the fingers of his broken arm. They were both likely high on drugs.
He was walking in the center of Rostov with a shirt that read ''Fucking Sports.'' ''It's my style - a mix of classic, street style and hiphop.'' He said he wants to open a small bar someday.
Margo (holding bag) and Milana were eating McDonald's on the street in Rostov as they leaned against a street underpass staircase. Margo, who runs the hurdles, shouted with pride ''We are from Samara!'' as they were photographed.
Timur, 20, works at a top Rostov restaurant that also separately sells high-quality produce, such as meats and cheeses. Describing himself as someone that loves to cook for friends, Timur said he dreams of opening a restaurant some day and supplying it with food from his own farm. ''There are no farmers in my family, but I still fell in love with produce because it is something that you need to care for to grow. I want to dedicate my life to this.'' Timur is probably the first person in Russia I have photographed for my project that wants to own and develop a farm. He couldn't have chosen a better time - Russia imported about $45 billion of food in 2013, most of which could have been produced in Russia where there the desire and investment. But the sharp drop in the ruble makes foreign food supplies twice as expensive and thus makes investment in Russian agriculture attractive now.