Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Perpetual labor

Baku is an endless fount of tasks to be done by manual laborers.

If managers are lacking a project, they can always order the destruction and creation of a walkway. A succession of projects has been underway non-stop since I arrived here in the early spring. The walkway or road may look quite serviceable - but orders for its reconstruction must be followed. A small army of laborers first destroys the old road, and then painstakingly re-paves it with paving stones. Sometimes the work crews are Azerbaijani - but not always.

When the work is done, it does look good. I can't help wondering, however, about lavishing such sums on making sure that the walkways in the parks are freshly paved. The educational system, for example, is chronically underfunded, according to teachers and students. Is it better to have nicely tended flower beds or well-paid teachers?

(Above are a couple of pictures from the current work being done on the boulevard by the Caspian Sea.)


Ani said...

Of course, it's all just make-work for manual laborers, to keep them out of trouble, but your two posts together suggest an alternative--rather than rebuild walkways, all these people could be put to work cleaning the insides of buildings, even painting the walls and replacing (or adding) lightbulbs. Think how much more cheerful everybody would be!

Eric said...

Stairwells are less grand - and less suited for parades!

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