Victor, 59, was sitting on a bench in the center of Minsk and I approached him to get his views on the city. He ignorned the questions and talked about his painting career. He said as a university student in USSR, he - like other students - was sent to a village to help with the potato harvest. While taking a break in a village house, he noticed a typical Belarusian rug with flower designs on a black background. The babushka let him take it. Twenty years later, he came across the rug amongst his stuff and it inspired a painting in his 'Snow in Black Square' series. The series itself is a play on 'Black Square' by Kazimir Malevich, who lived a few years in Belarus. Victor's site is: www.vitart.net
Evgeniya and her boyfriend Vanya (left) were visiting the friend (right) who initially intoduced them. Evgenia said she is going to be a baker like her grandmother. She fondly recalled visiting her grandmother at work for first time at the age of 8. Her grandmother let her play with the dough. I asked Evgenia what her favorite pastery is. 'Eclair - it's the hardest to make, but it is the most delicious.'
Anna, an English-language student, was listening to 'Shadow Maker' by Finnish-rock group Apocalyptica as she walked toward her university, adding she 'can't stop listening to it. Higher up on her list of favorite groups is Canadian rock band 3 Day Grace. Anna said attending their concert in Minsk was the most memorable event in 2014, 'a dream come true.'
Fedya was wearing a 'From Brooklyn' winter hat while walking in a Moscow street underpass. He said he and his sister moved to Moscow from Bukhara, Uzbekistan. His mom passed away and his dad lives in Uzbekistan. Fedya has worked the last four years as a courier, racing around Moscow. He said he just entered university to study ecology, adding it should be a needed profession in resource-rich Uzbekistan. On a side note, NYC (Queens, not Brooklyn) is home to a large diaspora from Bukhara.
Russia Street Musician Series: Dima was playing in the underpass beneath Tverskaya, one of Moscow's main streets, in about 0c (32F) temperature. He said he started learning at 6 and at 9 when to a music school. After high school, he studied at a technical college and worked in construction til he lost his job. Now, he said, he travels once in a while from the suburbs to Moscow to play for money. He said he likes 1990s rock.
Alex just graduated with a degree in oil & gas engineering, which should promise a good job outlook. But he isn't keen on working in Siberia... Or necessarily in the industry. For the time being, he is more interested in skateboarding and street fashion.