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Lena Scissorhands from the very distant lands

Lena Pchelkina is a simple hairdresser in the village of Verkhnezeysk, Amur Region at the east end of Russia. What makes her life special? She is a rare professional hairdresser in these areas. A few times a month she uses the Baikal-Amur railway to get to the most distant villages with the only aim - to make people more beautiful.
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Maria Ionova-Gribina

Lena Pchelkina is a simple hairdresser in the village of Verkhnezeysk, Amur Region at the east end of Russia. What makes her life special? She is a rare professional hairdresser in these areas. A few times a month she uses the Baikal-Amur railway to get to the most distant villages with the only aim - to make people more beautiful.
As the village is small, it takes just 7 minutes for Lena to walk to work to her salon. The room Lena rents for her small modest salon is located in a building that houses grocery and hardware stores.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

As the village is small, it takes just 7 minutes for Lena to walk to work to her salon. The room Lena rents for her small modest salon is located in a building that houses grocery and hardware stores.
A view of Verkhnezeysk, which is located in a permafrost area on the shore of the Zeya “sea” (as the locals call the Zeya reservoir). It is located on the southern bank of the Zeya reservoir at an altitude of 291 m. The Baikal-Amur mainline railway runs through the village.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

A view of Verkhnezeysk, which is located in a permafrost area on the shore of the Zeya “sea” (as the locals call the Zeya reservoir). It is located on the southern bank of the Zeya reservoir at an altitude of 291 m. The Baikal-Amur mainline railway runs through the village.
Lena in her hairdressing salon. The entire shop is contained inside these walls. // In March 1974, Soviet Brezhnev proposed that the BAM would be one of the two major projects in the next 5 years plan.(1976–80).

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Lena in her hairdressing salon. The entire shop is contained inside these walls. // In March 1974, Soviet Brezhnev proposed that the BAM would be one of the two major projects in the next 5 years plan.(1976–80).
Since 1974 perhaps 50,000 young people of the 156,000 young people who applied had moved to the BAM service area. Lena cuts a young woman’s hair. The woman asks for it to be a bit more fashionable and lightened with feather highlights.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Since 1974 perhaps 50,000 young people of the 156,000 young people who applied had moved to the BAM service area. Lena cuts a young woman’s hair. The woman asks for it to be a bit more fashionable and lightened with feather highlights.
Clients wait in the corridor, it's cold. // Beginning in the mid-1980s, the BAM-project attracted increasing criticism for bad planning. Infrastructure and basic services like running water were often not in place when workers arrived.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Clients wait in the corridor, it's cold. // Beginning in the mid-1980s, the BAM-project attracted increasing criticism for bad planning. Infrastructure and basic services like running water were often not in place when workers arrived.
At least 60 boomtowns developed around the route, but nowadays a lot of these places are deserted ghost towns and unemployment in the area is high. However people have already moved there and had to assimilate.// Lena’s tools.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

At least 60 boomtowns developed around the route, but nowadays a lot of these places are deserted ghost towns and unemployment in the area is high. However people have already moved there and had to assimilate.// Lena’s tools.
Lena always cuts her own hair, and not just because there is nobody else. Only she can style her hair the way she wants it.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Lena always cuts her own hair, and not just because there is nobody else. Only she can style her hair the way she wants it.
Lena at home, cutting her eldest daughter’s hair. // Her family consists of her daughter (works as a manicurist in Tynda, the nearest large settlement), son (a school pupil) and husband Igor Pchelkin (works for Russian Railways).

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Lena at home, cutting her eldest daughter’s hair. // Her family consists of her daughter (works as a manicurist in Tynda, the nearest large settlement), son (a school pupil) and husband Igor Pchelkin (works for Russian Railways).
Her husband Igor is also economically active. He used to have his own business — a bar. He says it was a popular place. Lena worked there as a chef, cooking Chinese food with a Ukrainian slant. She is still a good cook. On her days off, Lena likes to bake something tasty to please her family.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Her husband Igor is also economically active. He used to have his own business — a bar. He says it was a popular place. Lena worked there as a chef, cooking Chinese food with a Ukrainian slant. She is still a good cook. On her days off, Lena likes to bake something tasty to please her family.
Everything in the bar Pchelkin made with his own hands: they are “golden,” while Lena’s are made of steel. She even doubled up as the bar’s bouncer. But the bar burned down. Most likely it was no coincidence, but the work of rivals. The building with burned-out windows still stands in Verhnezeysk. Though Lena doesn't work as a bouncer she thinks it's important to stay strong and flexible. Lena works out on a running machine.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Everything in the bar Pchelkin made with his own hands: they are “golden,” while Lena’s are made of steel. She even doubled up as the bar’s bouncer. But the bar burned down. Most likely it was no coincidence, but the work of rivals. The building with burned-out windows still stands in Verhnezeysk. Though Lena doesn't work as a bouncer she thinks it's important to stay strong and flexible. Lena works out on a running machine.
Lena cuts a friend’s hair. “A hairdresser is to some extent a kind of psychologist,” says Lena's husband. As a child with pencil in hand, Lena studied Freud, which helps her to find a common language with people.

Maria Ionova-Gribina

Lena cuts a friend’s hair. “A hairdresser is to some extent a kind of psychologist,” says Lena's husband. As a child with pencil in hand, Lena studied Freud, which helps her to find a common language with people.
February 10, 2014
Tags: far east

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