Alibek came from sunny Azerbaijan to sell watermelons. He left the sun behind for the Moscow slush, autumn chill, around-the-clock noise, and dirt from passing cars.
The watermelons are brought in by night. With a partner, Alibek loads the melons into the latticed cage, which he will sell to any buys (does this make sense? any one willing to buy) the next day. The work only appears easy: they have to carefully watch that no watermelons are stolen, they have to periodically fend off attacks by nationalist-spirited youth, and they must pay ‘tribute’ to local authorities on time.
Alibek is not married, but he wants to find a bride. For this, he needs money. Spending just a few weeks in Moscow, Alibek can earn enough to become an eligible fiance. But a wedding and warm apartment are still just dreams of his. The reality is that Alibek will have to spend about two and a half months (from mid-August until the first frost in October) in his worn-down clunker without heating.
Alibek himself asked me to take a picture of the car, his temporary home, so that he could show his family. “Because they do not believe it,” he says with a smile.
Translated by Chase Philpot