Fences can appear overnight in Russia. But that does not necessarily change one’s route from the apartment to the store. There is always a way around a fence. A fence has a purpose in most societies, and those it intends to keep out understand the reason and respect it, unless their intent is to get on the other side, like thieves. In Russia a fence is just a fence, something put there by workmen who were paid to do it. It does not necessarily have any relevance to those who, although it has inconvenienced them, do not intend to alter their habits.
The building next door to my apartment building was under remont (repair, reconstruction) for four years. First it was rumored to be a high-end haunt for rich Chechens, when it finally emerged from the dust of several plan changes. it was the Tibetan Embassy. A sigh of relief went up in the neighborhood.
The road along side the building, next to the new embassy, and down the steep wooden stairs to the embankment was our straightest pathway to the corner store, the Moscow River and the bridge over it to Kievsky Rail Station and the Radisson Slavanskaya Hotel. So when a fence appeared one day blocking the road, it was a momentary cause for concern. But, not for the babushkas. With burdened shoulders and determined heads, they walked undaunted toward the fence as if they were blind, then sidled to the end of it, where, unseen to me, there was a babushka sized gap against the wall. They slipped right through and continued on their way.
The workmen, pretending to work, said nothing. What could they say? Their job was to erect the fence, and that was done. Was it their fault it was not quite long enough? End of responsibility. For every fence, there is a hole. I followed through.