May 01, 2016

Breathing Foreign Air

Yesterday I did my forging
And I made two sheets of tin.
Now my factory is saying
I can go where few have been.
Washed the soot off in the shower,
Gobbled up unheated ide,
Then I listened for an hour,
Dos and don’ts when I’m outside.

Я вчера закончил ковку,
и два плана залудил
И в загранкомандировку
от завода угодил.
Копоть, сажу смыл под душем,
съел холодного язя
И инструкцию прослушал,
что там можно, что нельзя.

So begins a tongue-in-cheek song by Vladimir Vysotsky about a Soviet factory worker who is being sent on a trip abroad. Although the song’s storyline may seem a bit farfetched, the basic idea of workers being given overseas trips was nothing out of the ordinary. If anyone was going to be allowed to come out from behind the Iron Curtain, members of the working class were clearly the best candidates. Whether the purpose of the trip was work or play, they always had an easier time getting permission for foreign travel. Decadent members of the intelligentsia dreaming of Paris or London could only sigh in envy.

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