We (Marly and Camille) decided to explore Chistiye Prudy (Clean Ponds), a neighborhood northwest of the center of Moscow. This exploration was completed for a class project, the purpose of which was to delve into specific regions of the city and become acquainted with people who spend time there. We chose this neighborhood because of its pretty boulevards and busy family atmosphere. On our first excursion to the neighborhood, we walked around the pond – the pond is bordered by an upscale restaurant, benches and restaurants. It was immediately apparent that this is a popular spot to hang out, because the path around the pond was full of people out for a stroll, and there was even a couple wearing wedding attire and taking photos.
In order to learn about the neighborhood from Muscovites, we approached two older women who were sitting on a bench facing the pond. One woman is a Moscow native, and the other woman was born in Leningrad, but moved to Moscow after marriage. The latter owns a dacha in the countryside, but does not frequent it anymore, as it is difficult to go alone. Presumably, the husbands of both women had died. The women happily told us that they sit at the pond every day, which they have done for years. Both had studied in school but had not obtained a college degree. One woman was reading a magazine, in which she showed us a silly poem that made her laugh.
On our second excursion to “Chistiye Prudy,” we were joined by Mila, a student at Moscow State University who is studying to teach Russian to language to foreign language speakers. When we told her we had chosen “Chistiye Prudy” as our district, she was glad because it happens to be one of the favorites of other university students. She led us around the neighborhoods there, showing us good places to eat and the sudden disparity from one street to the next; on one street there are beautiful, old buildings with detailed decorations and marble carvings, and on the next street the window frames and sidewalks are cracked and falling apart.
For dinner we got pizza from a pizza place and ate in an amphitheater that displayed a portion of the original white stone that protected what was then known as “Bely Gorod” (White City). We chose to talk to two younger girls, probably around our age, about “Chistiye Prudy.” They are students at the Theatrical Institute nearby, and while they were eager to talk to us, they wanted to talk more about us and where we came from. When we asked them their favorite restaurant, they answered “MacDonald’s!” We were thoroughly surprised.
We really enjoyed spending time in “Chistiye Prudy.” There is a lot of beautiful scenery and what will be greenery as spring continues. We definitely plan on visiting this district more in the future.