MOSCOW: Andrey was skating around VDNKh Park in Moscow, pushing his third baby girl in a carriage as he did so. The image highlighted three trends I have seen in Moscow in particular and in Russia in general over the past few years: more people - especially adults - exercising; families having more children and fathers spending more time (publicly) with their children. When I spoke with Andrey, a lawyer, he said there was a change in values among people of his generation toward's family life. While men of this father's generation might have spent time fixing the car or doing some other handy work, now they are spending more time with their family, he said. As for sports, Andrey said he has been skating for about 12 years.
Sergei, 60, a career secret service employee, moved his family from Kazakhstan to Moscow to give his son a better education. Years later, his son is giving Sergei a chance to stay active in retirement. Sergei helps his son Dmitry produce titanium bicycle frames in a machine-filled room in a Soviet-era factory in Moscow. Five people, including Sergei, work on producing the frames. It took him time to adjust to the blue-collar job. ''I never worked with machines before and, at first, I feared I would make mistakes. With practice, I became confident.'' Sergei says he sometimes comes to work on the weekends and is motivated by ''customers smiling when they pick up their bikes.''
Andrei, 34, was working on a computer in the kitchen of a hostel in Ulyanovsk, about 4,000 kilometers from his home town of Angarsk near Lake Baikal in Siberia. A father of four children, including two step-children, Andrei said he has completely changed his life over the last few years. He said he quit smoking three years ago, then drinking and his full-time office job as an accountant. He also said he changed 95% of the people around him to ensure he didn't resume the bad habits. ''Your lifestyle depends on the people around you,'' he said. ''I feel great now.'' Andrei now travels around the country to buy used cars from bankrupt or distressed companies and resell them. He said he prefers having the freedom of working for himself. Andrei, who regularly jogs in the morning, said his future plans include having another child.
Vlad, 32, was taking a smoke break after work before heading home. He said he had just finished cleaning some buildings of snow. His backpack weighed about 20 kilograms, if not more.
Vlad said he bought equipment worth 25,000 rubles ($400) while others use equipment worth 15,000 rubles, something he considered to be risky. He said people without insurance or proper equipment are sometimes hired, including to clean government buildings.
”I sometimes see courtyard workers cleaning buildings with nothing more than rope. Officials only make noise when someone [without proper equipment/insurance] falls and dies.”
The soft, fluffy, snow was falling non-stop in Moscow on February 3, quickly covering my courtyard. I couldn’t pass this up, so I grabbed my camera and headed for the exit to take some photos. I wanted to capture people walking through the snowstorm – a typical Russia image. I ended up finding something that was not a ‘typical’ Russia image…though it is becoming one in my view.