Every day, specialists from city services take on a number of complex tasks to help citizens and keep the city alive and well. There is no doubt that their work is vital to the city, but we still know very little about them.
For our 'People of the City' section, we have asked these professionals about their unique experiences and interesting stories from the job. The interview with Nadezhda Burnasheva was prepared in partnership with the Moscow city utilities authority.
How long have you been working in your profession and what made you choose it?
I've been with my company for almost 25 years. They hired the first crew in the 1990s, and I was amongst the first seven hires that were assigned to the Manezhnaya Square area. When we got our assignment, Manezhnaya Square was still under construction. We've watched its whole life right before our very eyes.
Aside from Manezhnaya Square itself, we were also responsible for the Red Square and Alexandrovsky Garden, which are both very important sites. I guess that's part of the reason I've always liked my job. Even though I'm in retirement, I still take care of the flower beds and keep them tidy. Of course, over the years, I've grown used to always being out in the fresh air. We have such beautiful flowerbeds, and working right next to the Kremlin sure is stunning.
What does your work involve? Why is it important for the city and its residents? What are some of the most interesting parts of your job?
We work for the city, the residents, and visitors. When we're not planting flowers, we're cleaning, mowing the lawn, and removing the cut grass. But we've always paid special attention to the flowerbeds. They require a lot of work. You can't just plant the flowers and call it a day. They need to be watered, weeded, and ploughed. We plant flowers according to the layouts that artists give us, telling us which plants go where. They come up with some really beautiful designs for us. Our designs in the past were never quite so interesting. We try to change up our array of annual flowers from year to year, but we never touch the perennial plants. For example, last year we planted a lot of geranium, but this year we've used a wide variety of different flowers. Our flowerbeds are especially beautiful and lush this year. We haven't had any dry out.
What do you like about your job? Is there anything about it that inspires you?
We are the ones who keep things nice and neat. You get so used to tidying that you try to pick up everything you see, down to the last cigarette butt. Sometimes things do get by us, though, because not everyone is as conscious about it as we are. But still, the most important thing for us is cleanliness.
What do you find impressive? When we first started here, I remember being really impressed by the changing of the guards and the flower ceremonies. We would sometimes tear up when they played 'Farewell of Slavianka' during the ceremonies, but we've gotten used to it by now.
Could you share a funny/interesting/gripping story that happened to you at work?
When we were first hired, we were sent to work on Arbat Street. Our crew manager, an older woman, took us to Borovitskaya Square. We were young and scared of cars, but our manager just lifted her broom up in the air and started walking, so we filed after her. Somehow all of the cars stopped! And there was a lot of traffic in that area. Not as much as now, of course, but still a lot. I still remember that story. These days, not many cars would stop for a woman with a broom.
What are some of your favourite places in Moscow? Do you have any favourite spots related to the job?
My favourite spots are the ones where I work: Alexandrovsky Garden, Red Square, and the Manege. For me, Moscow wouldn't be Moscow without them. We've been keeping it beautiful from the very start. It's like home for me, given how many years I've been taking care of it.
Name three places you'd recommend in Moscow. What are the must-see places for someone who's here for the first time?
Visitors to Moscow always go straight to the city centre: the Manege, the Eternal Flame, Red Square, and Zaryadye. After that, it's worth heading over to Poklonnaya Hill and Gorky Park. If you have kids, I would recommend checking out Arbat and VDNH. My niece and granddaughter really love VDNH, especially the Moskvarium. In Red Square, you can listen to the chiming of the tower clock and watch the changing of the guards.
But in general, these days you can go just about anywhere in Moscow. The parks are all in great condition, the embankments have been spruced up, and there is beauty everywhere you turn.
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