Olga Tuktareva

Olga Nikolaevna Tuktareva,
the director of the group "Buranovskiye Babushki"

In our small group there is our own hierarchy. Each participant has rights and responsibilities, advantages and weaknesses. My grannies know about it very well and follow the rules. Two "small" grandmothers Nadya Apai and Natalya Apai are the most unpredictable and funniest members of the group.

Galina Nikolaevna, the teacher with 40 years of experience, is the most legendary in our group. Everybody respects her, but she treats grannies like small children (and perhaps that’s good).

We have our own “mouse”, It’s a nick name for Valentine Semyonovna. She can sleep anywhere and everywhere, and even on stage. And once it happened on the stage of the National theatre. We remember that very well. It happened when we just started to perform and grannies were very shy and not confident. Anyway I think it’s very important that our grandmothers have their own personalities and they behave themselves like in real life. People like them the way they are.

Our first performance was at the National festival "Vorshud" in Izhevsk. During the performance Nadya mixed up some movements and as a result other grannies got confused. They began to argue and pushed each other on the stage. It was terrible.  After that Nadya said that she was ready to jump in the Izhevsk pond, so she was upset. She even wanted to quit the group.

We had a very funny situation at the hotel in Moscow. Our Valentina Semyonovna wanted to take a bath saying that we did not have to miss a chance to soak in the tub. But in 10 minutes she and Galina Nikolaevna rushed in half naked. “We don't know how to drain off the water!” – said they. To my shame, I also did not understand that tricky Moscow plumbing and could not help. We even tried to fix the problem with a knife but Mikhail came and fixed the problem. Now wherever we come Galina says: "Well girls! Let’s take a bath!”  

In Moscow we had some free time after the shooting and I decided to show grannies the Red Square.  They wanted very much to see Lenin in the Mausoleum. It seems that in Moscow now Lenin is the only thing that can be seen for free, a small piece of socialism. Immediately after the Mausoleum I decided to take them to the GUM (the department store) for an excursion. Grandmother Zoya refused to go due to the pain in her legs saying that she would wait for us at the entrance doors.  How much we were surprised when we came out and saw very upset Zoya. It turned out that passers-by began to offer her money thinking she was a beggar. They are my grannies. I have tears in my eyes when I recall this story.

During our visit to the GUM we had another interesting situation. Naturally we were walking around the shop as in the museum. Grannies, who were wearing at that time national Udmurt dresses and aprons, entered one of the departments. At once many people surrounded them and started asking if they were the famous Buranov grandmothers. I was really surprised. After that grannies were asked to sing a song. Of course it was not the right place for the concert and we quietly left the shop.

We could not walk peacefully in Moscow. Passers-by constantly approached grannies and took pictures of them. But I do not think that people did it because of grannies’ unusual dresses. People felt their openness and sincerity.

It was remarkable that we came to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviourto put the candle (we always do that when we are near a church) on the day of the ascension of Christ. Grandmothers said it was not a coincidence, it was a sign. I think a good sign.

Natalya is a real star now. It happened after her unscripted walk to the Russian singer Lyudmila Zykina on the stage in Moscow. After shooting I asked her about the incident. She said: "It was not fair to be on such scene and not to dance!". I must add that Natalya is a wonderful dancer. She cannot listen to merry tune without rushing to dance. And I thought that initiative was not punishable. People miss spiritual, sincere, open and human attitude.

The first proposal to sing the rock songs in the Udmurt language was received by grandmothers without enthusiasm. But I told them about Tsoi and Grebenshchikov and chose the songs which could be interesting to them. At last they accepted this extraordinary proposal. However, one of the grannies turned away and left. But later she bought herself disks and suggested to translate the song "Sad" by Tsoi. When I listened to the song I thought my grandmothers were very wise and sensitive.  Their long-suffering souls responded to all changes in life and society.

When Katya, our most disciplined and laconic grandmother, heard the song "Golden City", she softly said: "Like a prayer". Later I learned that the melody of the song was written in the15th century!

An integral part of any creative group, which is experience some kind of popularity, is gossip, especially in the village. It is not always easy to go through that, and each reacts to it her own way. Sometimes it comes to ridiculous forms. One of the grandmothers goes to the rehearsals around gardens, so she can’t be seen.  

As a head of the group I feel big responsibility for each grandmother and for all our group’s activities. I know that I should be responsible to each song, which we learn and translate. We talk a lot about it with the grandmothers.

After learning about our grandmothers and our heroic Galina Nikolaevna (she had a very difficult life and she is a very strong person), they were invited to the TV show "Malakhov+". It was “a real potato epic”.  As always my grandmother took some food for the trip, including boiled potatoes. On the way to Moscow they were eating their potatoes. After the shooting they were taken to the hotel. They decided to have a snack in the restaurant. Each of them took 100 rubles. They were given the menu, said Galina Nikolaevna, and they saw "soup - 400 rubles”. We continued looking though the menu and there were so many zeros that was hard to understand how much it was. We reached the last page and asked if they had some boiled potatoes?.  The waiter said, it cost 50 rubles. “And what about some tea?” - grannies asked. It was 50 rubles too. They ordered. They were waiting for 10 or 20 minutes. "Did they forget about us?!", they wondered. Finally the waiter brought the potatoes and tea and asked just 50 rubles. They got full but potatoes were still on the plates. Not thinking much, they took napkins and wrapped potatoes. We ate that potatoes on the way back, says Nadya.

Galina Nikolaevna has sick legs and she can wear nothing but galoshes. But her galoshes are not simple, they are “rainbow”. Galina Nikolaevna  went to the exhibition of contemporary art. Looking at leaky dusted pelvis she said that if it was art, then all her household was modern art, but much cleaner. At that moment she was approached by young people, obviously artists. They said, pointing to her galoshes: "This is very original and exclusive, could you sell it!". We all laughed. Now galoshes we call “exclusive”!

The say if you want to know the man, lend him or borrow some money. Now with regard to the grandmothers, they have very generous souls and they are very reliable and attentive. They are always ready to give you the last.  It was so touching when they came to my unfinished house for the housewarming  party with bags of food and dishes.

And when they say that popularity spoils people, it does not apply to my grannies. They remain sincere, open and real. They have a dream to have in our village a church with many bells like in their childhood. They want fields planted with rye. They want people to sing and remember about their main mission - to be better, more spiritual and decent.