In the second story of our series «De-constructing the Kifissos River», Alexander Schellow meets Arif, an immigrant from Bangladesh. In their discussion, Arif points out specific issues around his stay in Greece.
Where the Iera Odos crosses the former riverbank, even in ancient Greece, there was a bridge. Myth says that it was a particular point to pass by: here local people used to verbally attack the travelers and processions between Acropolis and Elefsias. Though the spot shifted a few hundred meters to the west (as it was shifted by urban building activity over the centuries), the traffic-crossing Kifisou/Iera Odos is still a busy place. The middle-island is situated under an enormous highway-bridge, now turned 90-degrees from where it was in ancient times. The ends of the bridge are very close to the ground, (given the decreasing height between concrete and concrete) creating large difficult or inaccessible areas. The volume of car-, motorbike- and truck-noise is also very loud and at times painful.The air, specifically in the summer, makes it hard to breathe. It is an area for trajectories, to pass through by car, but not to stay. On this island, I met Arif (his name has been changed per his wish) and his colleagues – a Bangladeshi immigrant community made up of partly political and partly economic refugees, trying to sell and exchange things to passing drivers who stop at the traffic-lights. I have spent a great deal of time with them at this place during my months of research. They have a different status of immigration, though mostly without any status, even if several have lived in Athens for more than 10 years.
A: Do you know that there is a river around?
Arif: River? Yes under here, river river.
A: I am kind of following the river and I am talking to people.
Arif: Thank you sir! Its a long route along the river.
A: From the sea actually.
Arif: Yes, yes. From the ocean.
A: From where are you?
Arif: From Bangladesh! Near India.
A: And where in Bangladesh, is it north or south?
Arif:: Eh- east!
Arif: East of Bangladesch. Near of Keokredong.
After talking for a while…
A: When did you come?
Arif: Ten years! Before: three years. Still the red card. United Zone, it’s the red card. Political- eh- …
…Greek business, Greek economics now don’t function. How is in Germany?
Arif: But really… Look at the poor. You believe me, I do a lot of work!
A: I can see it: you are heavily working. But how is this for you – can you feel here the difficulties of the large scale economy? I mean – are people actually buying less also here, or…? Are they not buying as much as before from you?
Arif: Well we have a major problem here in Greece… come, I tell you… wait, I have to –
Arif: Well, yes, policemen and the people! OK: our country is really down, economics…
A: A kind of depression.
To be continued…
The article series De-constructing the Kifissos was produced with and published by Meld.cc