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Thursday, 7 August 2014

The happy immigrants of London (Οι χαρούμενοι μετανάστες του Λονδίνου)

I just read a very interesting article written in Greek by Eirini Dermitzaki, a director and writer born in 1982, in Sitia, which is located in Eastern Crete. She studied Acting and Filmmaking. She currently lives in London. You can find out more about Eirini on her website. I thought it summarised the situation of London's immigrant workers very well. With Eirini's permission, I have translated it here.

multicultural london 

"We are the happy immigrants. With tremendous joy, we wake up in the morning. We love the alarm clock that lets us wake up at six. We love the soiled carpet as we step on it to go to the bathroom. That carpet has been stepped on by other good immigrants like us from all over the world. Then we pour water on our face, one shot of ice, one shot of heat. It is said that English taps are deliberately constructed in this way. A different one for the cold water, a different one for the hot, so we can easily get used to the changes.

"We migrant workers are such worthy people, that we stack ourselves on the train every morning to get to work. There, we meet others like ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you wear a nurse’s uniform, overalls or a suit, because we are all the same and we are so much in love with each other that we don’t mind getting stuck all over each other, so if anyone ever fainted from fatigue or sleeplessness, we will catch him in time. To pass the time on the train we talk on our cell phones or play with our tablets. It is very significant to be engaged in this way because we don’t need to make the effort to think.

Eirini Dermitzaki exhibited her work last year at the Slate Gallery in London.
"We drink coffee before we get to work. A beautiful Fairtrade coffee from African plantations. We love coffee because it was created with loving care by the hands of other immigrants. All of us, of course, are dreaming of the day when we will all drink only tea.

"At work, time passes pleasantly whether our boss is British or an immigrant. Because both of them hide in us the hope that one day we too will become masters of immigrants, or better still, of the English. During the break we are pleased to be sitting side by side with immigrants. Our colleagues Ahmed, Pedro and Sonja smile cordially. We are all pleased that we are all immigrants with all our equal rights, and we feel like healthy members of society, and we are grateful that we are not like the others, unemployed migrants, or even worse, undocumented illegals.


"Once our work is done for the day, we drink our beer in the neighbouring pub to celebrate that we worked today. We laugh and drink and shout out loud, so that we forget what we really wanted to talk about.

"We immigrants, before going home, stop at the supermarket. We no longer look for products from our country on the shelves, because packaged food in plastic wrap is very cheap and we eat it all. We do not care if the vegetables are tasteless and the meat smells like carrion, because we feel safe when we carry our full bags home. At the exit, we greet our friend, our immigrant neighbour, who is carrying his own shopping bags, and feels the same pride that we do, that he can feed himself and his family.

"Back home, we share the living room with other immigrants. The kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator shelves, and the toilet paper. To have a bath, or to do our laundry, we arrange shifts. And it's very important that everything is in order and organized. Our house is like a small state. With rules and boundaries. With limits. We immigrants like that kind of stuff. It fills us with feelings of security that people who speak other languages or believe in another God can observe the same laws.

"The days pass, and so do the months, we get paid, we take our leave, we pay the bills, the rent. Everything is expensive and many times we do not have many enough money but we do not worry. The bank takes care of us immigrants with a bunch of loans and credit cards. At night we lie in our beds and we do not feel our legs from fatigue. Others do not feel their back or their head. Others do not feel any emotions. No thoughts before we sleep, because we do not miss our country at all. We feel fortunate that we are immigrants and we know that those who stayed behind are jealous of us. But we do not think about them. Because that is how we immigrants are. Since we became immigrants, we have forgotten who we were before that. So we sleep soundly like birds, and this is very important. It’s beautiful to sleep so deeply. You don’t even remember what dreams you saw. Anyway, what can one do with one’s dreams? We immigrants have a tomorrow. A next day, the same as yesterday, awaits us."

Immigration is not all it's cracked up to be.

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