Wednesday, October 11

The One When Jyghal Works The Off Season 48


It snows at Kalamk pass (3,352m)

Jyghal describes his six months in the UK where he spent last winter to make money during the tourist off-season. Of six Kyrgyz men, only Jyghal spoke English. The crew arrive on a 'seasonal visa' to work in a factory in Scotland "boxing" 13 hours a day, six days a week (5am to 6pm). How much? £65 a week (he insists, but I think wrong because he also informs he brought home 10 grand though it could be for all six).

In any case, initially, for efficiency given one free day/ week, the men, led by Jyghal, hit Lidl and Asda (low-cost grocery chains) and empty the shelves of all the bread, eggs and sugar - and directly told they cannot do that. Next time, "we get smart, use two shopping carts" we laugh.

The promised accommodations turn out to be a caravan "very awful. Very cold. The winds shook our place so bad." Electricity and gas purchased on the meter - "so much" - until Jyghal takes matters into his own hands and finds a house for six, rented from a Bulgarian he finds on Facebook - "only a Bulgarian would rent a place to guys like us, otherwise impossible." The house is far from the factory and Jyghal somehow sources a 2005 Honda for £1,700, haggled down from £2,000. "Oh, man, the insurance and tax so expensive" and not anticipated in the purchase price. The car serves its purpose and then given to the Bulgarian for the final months rent ("we told him we had no money") and accepted only after Jyghal proves the MOT is good for another six months.

I nod to Eitan, don't laugh too loud: such conditions are endured by most young people - my first apartment in Manhattan on 6th Avenue not far from being a tenement house shared with three college friends with one sleeping in the closet and the commute to work on the subway a cattle-call. These stories are gold dust.