Friday, 3 October 2008

Migrant workers in Moscow

In the Russian section of BBC News, the photographer Yulia Vishnevetskaya publishes a photoblog with the theme "The Photoalphabet - a humourous attempt at codifying the world using pictures".
The acompanying texts are usually not very illuminating (I guess she is, after all, a photographer and not a writer), and I wish she would include place and date more often, but nevertheless her "Photoalphabet" is quite interesting.

The letter Г ("G") stands for Гастарбайтер, migrant workers. Vishnevetskaya visited some Tajik migrant workers building Moscow highrises.

Playing backgammon in their free hours ...

The workers sleep in their barracks in shifts - while one shift is up working, the other is sleeping in the same bunks.

She notes that they are very friendly folks.

They were friendly, she writes, "not only with me, but also with each other - it's surprising how many of them hold hands, and they don't consider it to be anything improper at all".
Hmm, if Vishnevetskaya has travelled as much as she obviously has, why is she wondering about a thing like this? Holding hands among males without being sexually attracted to each other is very common in many different cultures. Or maybe she is only anticipating a likely Russian reaction to such exotic customs ...?

See more photos in the original post.


ainur said...

Finally, I was looking at our Tajik posts yesterday, worrying that there are so few! Thanks for the Tajik love!

BTW, funny that "gastarbaiter" is another German loanword. I wonder when it was first borrowed into Russian?

Tinet said...

You should make a cross post about that Falco lookalike guy! He's Tajik, too!!

The Russian Wikipedia confirms my guess that гастарбайтер is a post-Soviet term, which was loaned into Russian in the early 1990's. In Russia the vast majority of migrant workers come from former Soviet republics, and as opposed to the original German Gastarbeiter, they for the most part have not been invited, but have come to Russia of their own accord and work without contracts. According to this aricle, in a global comparison Russia has the second highest number of migrant workers in the world, No. 1 being the USA.