Permanent Temporary Situation

The Life and Perspective of the returning Gastarbeiters in the Municipality of


I never live here

My home is where I am not

But I am always in it

In my thoughts of return

My only home are distances

(Ana Čugurović)

These lines sound like the chorus of every story we heard from the gastarbeiters we talked to in mid July 2007 during the two week field research in Kučevo as a part of the project named Art Interventions-The Return of the Gastarbeiters.

When we left Belgrade we brought with ourselves a certain amount of prejudices and stereotyped beliefs about the people we would question about their dreams, their lives, work abroad, the return… At one point of our journey many of the stereotypes started being confirmed…

Notable absence

….since the houses were larger, more luxurious, having more and more windows with shutters, and the front yards were getting emptier as our bus drove further from Belgrade. Where did all those rich people live? Why weren’t they in their houses? Did every gastarbeiter dream of putting their hard earned money into grandiose mansions of stone or was it something else?

The next few days we tried to find out more about the people who built these houses and confirm or prove wrong the stereotypes that followed them through conversation.

When they would receive us in their large houses, we would get the feeling that something was missing, as if the light was shining too short in the rooms. Their personal things weren’t giving the impression than anyone was living there, they were set for return. Everything but them was covered with dust. These people always return somewhere and stay nowhere.

They told us that only few old people were left in their home villages, which were far away from the main roads and almost deserted, their land was in weed, that their children didn’t want to accept them as inheritance, than nobody wanted to plough them and that everybody searched for the way to go away.

Confirmed stereotypes

Mid July 2007, under the project Art Interventions-The Return of the Gastarbeiters, we have conducted a field research among gastarbeiters in Kučevo, under the guidance of Prof Saša Nedeljković. The problem of people returning to Serbia hasn’t been a prominent subject of our anthropologists’ works, although they were familiar with it. Therefore, we have made an effort to extract some general problems and raise new questions, as to say the least, on the example of the gastarbeiters from Kučevo.

We talked with a great number of local gastarbeiters, who were willing to cooperate by talking about their lives, working abroad, thinking to come back…. Taking into consideration that they were a part of the economic and social structure of the greatly undeveloped municipality of Kučevo, we wanted to find out how much were they contributing to their community and whether they interact with their environment actively. The answers to these and many other questions we were able to get only from the story about their entire life: before they left, during the time they lived there and after they came back. Although the people we spoke to weren’t all the same sex and age, the stories they told revealed a standard pattern. The countries they went to were different (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Sweden, France, the Netherlands), but the problems they all came across when they left were mostly similar.

The years of crisis and the increase in the unemployment rate at the beginning of the 1960’s influenced the mass migration of the population of the former Yugoslavia in search for “temporary” work in the countries of West Europe. They would usually go “into the unknown”; looking for a job they couldn’t get here because the number of people looking for a job was a lot bigger than the number of jobs available.

After they left, they faced a new culture they knew very little about. They were not well informed of the conditions of working and living and the rights and obligations they would have. The problem of not understanding and accepting the new culture was mostly caused by the fact the workers did not know the language of the country they came to. They set off thinking “they could earn more there” (or, even simpler, that they would find a job there), and that they would return “when they have earned enough”. One of the people we spoke to, who had spent forty years in Germany, shared his original pans with us: I thought at the time that I was going to work for some time and then buy a car and make a small house and then come back. I thought it would last for 5-6 years, or 10 years, but then, the children came, I married there..“

Through the conversation we concluded they willingly accepted the fact that they would work harder there, but the reality was often more difficult and demanding than what they had hoped for. However, they accepted all of those terms thinking that their staying was only temporary. That was also one of the reasons of their slow adapting to the environment.

The confusion and the environment’s rejection of their behaviour were caused by the fact that the gastarbeiters lived according to two set of rules in two different environments. Their life abroad meant overtime and saving money, and rejection of the Western spending pattern, but their life here reflected the thinking of the typical “Western consumers”, who spent their hard earned money in the way it was often difficult to understand. These problems were concerned with personal integrity and the social and cultural identity of the guest worker of the first generation.

Part of these workers, who left for temporary employment abroad which usually lasts longer than they had previously thought, started their families in those countries. Their children weren’t so easily accepted into the society. Recalling one unpleasant situation, one of the people who returned, described us the schooldays of his son: „He attended the German school for a year. Once I went to the school and saw him standing alone in the corner, poor boy. Little German kids were running around and playing. The poor boy was standing alone in the corner. He was a foreigner at the time, that happened in ’72 or ’75-’76. He started school but didn’t know the language. He was born there and I was sorry to say to my wife: Look, Imma gonna take him immediately to Yugoslavia to go to Tito’s school, ya hear! “.. Today’s situation changed because there are programs developed to help the children of foreign workers adjust better. Many of the Western countries were aware of the difficulties the foreign citizens were facing so they developed the appropriate psychological and social programmes that included both parents and children. One of the people still living and working in Switzerland approved of the people involved who helped when his daughter was about to start going to the kindergarten „giving him advice that the child should learn to speak Serbian well at home before she started learning foreign languages…“ “She goes to the Swiss kindergarten, there are no Serbian kindergartens. There are additional schools in Serbian. It was interesting to us that we spoke to the teachers before she started going to school. I spoke only Serbian to my daughter. Before she started preschool, she went to the kindergarten… Three times a week per three hours she would learn German. She also started learning the language with the help of TV. The way to communicate is easy and children learn German very easily, and they learn it on the basis of the Serbian language. When me and my wife went to the kindergarten she was going they told us to speak only Serbian with her in the house, because learning more languages required one basis. Our mother tongue was Serbian, and she had to speak Serbian in order to overcome the learning of other languages easier. I speak only Serbian to her…“

The life and way of thinking of the second generation was drastically changed compared to their parents’ life. The practice of the first generation was to form a marriage with other people from Yugoslavia, while their children refused to follow that rule – forming a mixed marriage was perfectly natural to them. Many of the people we interviewed, members of the first generation, proudly emphasized the fact that they didn’t accept the citizenship of the country they went to believing they were preserving their national identity in this way, which wasn’t the case of their children.

On the other hand, part of these workers started their families in the home country, and most of those families remained there. No matter whether they followed the first or the second pattern, the member of the first generation of migrants invested all their money into houses (spacious, having high fences, massive gates, ornamented with concrete sculptures…), and invested all their hope in returning.

They came to Serbia on regular basis, whenever they would be on vacation. Today, their children rarely come because they believe this kind of vacation would cost them a lot comparing what would they gain from it, so they rather go to a third country. Thus, the houses remained empty, and all the effort made to build them was made in vain.

No matter how long they stayed in the country of temporary employment, our gastarbeiters, migrants of the first generation, rarely found friends among the citizens of that country (they mostly socialized with the workers from the former republics of Yugoslavia). The level of communication with the country’s home population was rather low. However, the need for knowing each other better was reduced to minimum. The workers of the first generation counted on coming back from the beginning, at first it would be temporary (vacations) and then permanently (retirement). Their social status changed after the return, and they were given the opportunity to actively influence their environment, which usually doesn’t happen; their money only influenced a specific form of architecture in Eastern Serbia, but this kind of influence could be described as rather passive.

From the conversation with the members of the local authorities and with the people that had returned we have concluded that there was (ill) will for cooperation on both sides. The representatives of the local authorities claimed that the gastarbeiters weren’t willing to invest their money in any of the projects of the municipality, while, on the other hand, most of the gastarbeiters claimed that nobody ever asked them to invest in any kind of particular project. Many of them were owners of private businesses, and stated that they were not willing to cooperate with the local authorities because they believed their money wouldn’t end up in the right place. In their statements we could detect subconscious opinion that the authorities were corrupted and taking bribe, and that they wouldn’t be able to deal with these situations in a legal way in this country… This kind of atmosphere is inappropriate for any kind of constructive dialog so their lives continue in mutual misunderstanding. What should be possibly further investigated is whether this was a typical problem of the transitional society or was it the lack of will, knowledge and capability to create a better living environment.

What seems to be the issue here is that both those who have the power (members of the local authorities) and those who have money (people who returned from abroad) are unwilling to share the power. Both sides complain about the other side and believe they are entitled to do so. „If I would live here, I would have run for the president of the municipality. This very moment“, says one of the people who believes that he has adopted a pattern of organized state system and bureaucracy while living and working in the West and who was willing to apply them in this country.

It seems like the gastarbeiters, by being temporary in both countries, lose the ability to identify themselves as members of any of the two societies they temporary live in, so they are identified as The Others in both places. They don’t see themselves in those ways, of course, they think they are the people who want to repeat the experiences of one society into the other, but since that is impossible (or, in rare cases very difficult or slow), they remain to wander, behaving in the right way in wrong places, or observing from a different perspective, doing wrong in the right places.

It is possible to notice that the problem of the gastarbeiters has many layers and many perspectives. The fact that they were not adapted and not willing to actively participate in every new environment, and the fact that they could not adapt themselves even to the old environment, influences others to classify them always as the “gastarbeiters” which explains their constant marginal status. After they left abroad, they separated themselves from the old environment, at the same time they rarely or never became accepted. Them being marginalised could last for a very long time (sometimes more than 40 years). For us, their marginal status doesn’t cease, because the end of one marginal status can easily mean the beginning of another one. During that period the population of both countries shows misunderstanding towards them, or “tolerates” them, while both sides accept the existing and create new stereotypes.

In their free time

For most of the people we interviewed, free time is unnecessary, useless, even harmful. Many of them use their free time to find another job on the black market, where they can earn more in one sitting. Even if they have free time they usually spend it with their families, or go to church (if there is an orthodox church), where they can meet other people from their country. They usually don’t become friends with people from the host country, even if they are co-workers (which mostly refers to the people of the first wave of migration). There are various cultural barriers when going on house calls between the foreigners, which are impossible to overcome for the people we talked to. Those who want to save money cannot even afford to go out from time to time, because that would cost a lot, so they wouldn’t save enough money to spend when they come back to Serbia. They spend their vacations in their own houses, which always need to be repaired and require some additional building. Even when they come after retiring they continue with some kind of work: some start a private business, and some return to cultivate their deserted land.

When you fulfil your expectations, and your wishes don’t come true

By their statements, what motivated them to leave was difficult life. They weren’t motivated only by lack of work; they also wanted to provide better life conditions for their children than the ones they lived in. Some of them lived in the remotest small villages and went to school on foot. When they earned enough to build large houses in the urban area for their children (some of them opened private businesses for their children), what their children wished for didn’t match their desires. Their children wanted more and they chose an already crossed road seeking for their wishes to come true, just as their parents did once.

Between here and there

Many of those people admired the laws and the efficiency of the legal system in the countries they worked in. They also claimed the corruption wasn’t so developed and all the problems could be solved with a dialog. Still, living was the best and the most pleasant in Serbia. Despite all the remarks they had against the local and state authorities, despite everything dysfunctional they noticed in the home economy, despite all the problems they perceived in the society, they felt their own masters here.. And what is more important they can always feel empathy for each other which makes them want to come back even more.

The Return

Although the most common reason for returning is retirement that is not the only reason. People who were more willing to fight the difficulties of life at home than abroad returned as soon as they earned the first sum of many they were pleased with. Their wish to be ’’their own masters“was stronger than the desire to be rich. They were less willing to adjust to the new environment, and wanted to use this new environment as a pattern to change their own country. They started small private firms that specialized in services, similar to the ones they saw abroad. Beside the vision about how would their firm look like, they worked to bring new ways to run a firm and treat your employees. They have been complaining that those ways were still not successful enough and that they were having a lot of difficulties.

Some people did not return because they wanted so. One of them returned with his family because his parents were ill. After that he couldn’t go back abroad. Now he feel nostalgic about the days he spent there and cannot adapt to the life here; he said it was much worse. However, depending on the country they had worked in, many of them admit that they would live pretty difficult with their pensions in the West. That is why they returned to their home towns where they can enjoy the status of a landholder.

Exceptions (that confirm the rule)

Nobody’s life can fit into only one pattern. All the people we questioned were different comparing to each other, and some of them fit the pattern more, and the others fit less. However, some of them were notably different.

It can be concluded that the life of our people in Sweden is much more different than the life of people living in other countries. The state encourages and forces them to integrate into the society. On the other hand, their return is brought in question. Their return is limited by the Swedish law, and allows them to come to short visits, because if they fail to be in Sweden for six months a year they lose the right to their pension.

One man went to work abroad and despite doing well he soon quit. He said ’’he had no time to work“. He did various jobs, travelled the European countries, and the he came home and continued with his previous work.

Searching for the better

We didn’t just do a research on the gastarbeiters; we talked to the people like us. They left once, like any of us who ever went to get something, always ready to return. But every trip alters us a little, so that we cannot realize that there is no come back, so we keep thinking about it.

In the end of the road there stands a dilemma whether it was all worth it? Did it pay off to work so hard in another country? That is the question these people ask themselves daily. The right answer is nowhere to find. If you judge by the large and massive fences, enormous houses, swimming pools and expensive cars, than it did pay off. But if we judge by the emptiness and hollowness that lies behind the fences of stone, than it didn’t pay off! The satisfaction almost everybody we spoke to felt at taking a look at their “empire of stone” (in which they invested almost everything they earned), became replaced quickly by the sad but true fact – everything was slowly decaying while their children and grandchildren were living somewhere else, in a foreign country that they wanted to return from as soon as possible to provide their family with the conditions they never had. And when they succeeded in giving their children that the rather wanted “to go to the Azure coast than to bore themselves to death here”, as we heard from the conclusion of one of the gastarbeiters we spoke to.

Biljana Anđelković
Koviljka Babić
Ana Čugurović
Marija Stevuljević
Jelena Tirnanić
Jovana Todorović

Život i perspektive gastarbajtera povratnika u opštini Kučevo

Ne živim nikada ovde
Moja je kuća tamo gde nisam sada
Ali uvek sam u njoj
U mislima na povratak
Moj jedini dom su daljine
(Ana Čugurović)

Navedeni stihovi zvuče kao refren svake priče koju smo čuli od gastarbajtera sa kojima smo razgovarali sredinom jula 2007. godine tokom dvonedeljnog terenskog istraživanja u Kučevu u okviru projekta Intervencije umetnošću-povratak gastarbajtera.
Polazeći iz Beograda poneli smo i izvesnu dozu predrasuda i stereotipnih shvatanja o ljudima koje je trebalo da ispitujemo o njihovim snovima, životu, radu u inostranstvu, povratku.. Na jednom delu puta mnogi od stereotipa su počeli da se potvrđuju…

Vidljiva odsutnost
….jer što se autobus udaljavao istočnije od Beograda, to su kuće bivale veće, raskošnije, sa više prozora sa zatvorenim kapcima, a dvorišta praznija. Gde li su živeli svi ti bogati ljudi? Zašto nisu bili u svojim kućama? Da li je san svakog gastarbajtera da teško zarađeni novac u inostranstvu uloži u velelepna kamena zdanja ili u osnovi leži želja za nečim drugim?
Narednih dana pokušali smo da kroz razgovor saznamo više o ljudima koji su ih pravili i da potvrdimo ili opovrgnemo stereotipe koji su ih obično pratili.
Kada bi nas primali u svoje velike kuće imali smo osećaj da u njima nešto nedostaje, kao da je svetlost u sobama bila prekratko. Stvari nisu bile nameštene za život, one su bile spremne za povratak. Sve osim njih prekrivala je prašina. Ovi se ljudi uvek vraćaju, a nigde se ne zadržavaju.
Pričali su nam o tome da je u njihovim rodnim selima, koja su bila udaljenija od važnijih puteva i skoro potpuno opustela, ostalo još po nekoliko staraca, da su im njive zakorovljene, da njihova deca ne žele da ih dobiju u nasledstvo, da niko ne želi da ih obrađuje, da svi samo traže načina da odu odavde.

Potvrđeni stereotipi
Sredinom jula 2007.godine, u okviru projekta Intervencije umetnošću-povratak gastarbajtera, sproveli smo dvonedeljno terensko istraživanje među gastarbajterima u Kučevu, pod rukovodstvom doc.dr Saše Nedeljkovića.. Problem povratnika u Srbiju, iako poznat našim antropolozima, poslednjih godina nije zauzimao značajnije mesto u njihovim radovima. Stoga smo se potrudili da, na primeru kučevskih gastarbajtera, ako ništa drugo, makar uočimo neke osnovne probleme i otvorimo nova pitanja.
Razgovarali smo sa mnogim tamnošnjim gastarbajterima, koji su bili spremni da nam izađu u susret pričajući nam o svom životu, boravku i radu u inostranstvu, razmišljanju o povratku…. Uzimajući u obzir da su oni sastavni deo ekonomske i društvene strukture, u velikoj meri nerazvijene kučevske opštine, želeli smo da otkrijemo koliko i na koji način doprinose svojoj zajednici i da li aktivno stupaju u interakciju sa svojom okolinom. Odgovore na ova, ali i mnoga druga pitanja mogli smo dobiti samo iz priče o njihovom celokupnom životu: pre odlaska, tokom boravka i nakon povratka sa rada u inostranstvu. Iako su se ispitanici razlikovali po polu i godištu, u njihovim pričama se može uočiti jedan standardni obrazac. Zemlje odlaska su bile različite (Nemačka, Švajcarska, Austrija, Italija, Švedska, Francuska, Holandija), ali problemi sa kojima su se gastarbajteri susretali po odlasku su uglavnom slični.
Godine krize i porast nezaposlenosti početkom šezdesetih godina prošlog veka uticali su na masovni odlazak jugoslovenskih državljana na „privremeni“ rad u zapadno-evropske zemlje.  Odlazili su, najčešće, u “potpuno nepoznato”, tražeći posao koji ovde nisu mogli da dobiju, usled nesrazmernog odnosa broja radnih mesta i broja ljudi koji za njih konkurišu.
Po odlasku, oni su se suočavali sa novom kulturom o kojoj najčešće nisu znali dovoljno. Takođe su bili loše informisani o uslovima rada i stanovanja, kao i pravima i dužnostima koje će imati. Problem nerazumevanja i neprihvatanja nove kulture najvećim delom je uzrokovan činjenicom da radnici nisu znali jezik zemlje u koju odlaze. Oni su polazili sa uverenjem da se “tamo bolje zarađuje” (ili, prosto, da se tamo može naći posao), odnosno da će se vratiti “kad zarade dovoljno”. Jedan od naših ispitanika koji je u Nemačkoj proveo četrdeset godina podelio je sa nama svoje prvobitne planove: “Ja sam mislio da idem malo da radim i da kupim autić, i da kućicu jednu napravim pa da dođem. Ja sam mislio 5-6 godina, 10 godina, kad ono, deca se rode tamo, oženio sam se tamo..“
Kroz razgovor sa ispitanicima zaključili smo da su oni spremno prihvatali činjenicu da će se tamo više raditi, ali često je njihova stvarnost bivala teža i mučnija od onoga čemu su se nadali. Oni su ipak, pristajali na sve to smatrajući svoj boravak tamo privremenim. To je često bio jedan od razloga njihove spore adaptacije.
Zabuna i nerazumevanje njihovih postupaka prouzrokovani su i činjenicom da gastarbajteri, u dve sredine, žive u skladu sa dva potpuno različita modela. Dok je njihov život tamo opterećen prekovremenim radom i štednjom i evidentnim neprihvatanjem zapadnog potrošačkog modela, po povratku u otadžbinu postaju i više nego tipični “zapadni potrošači”, trošeći teško stečeni novac na način koji je, često, teško razumeti. Navedeni problemi se tiču ličnog integriteta, kao i društvenog i kulturnog identiteta stranog radnika prve generacije.
Deo radnika, koji odu na privremeni rad u inostranstvo, a koji obično potraje duže nego što se očekuje, zasniva porodicu u zemlji u koju su otišli. Nijihova deca nisu bivala lako integrisana u društvo. Prisećajući se nimalo prijatne situacije, jedan od povratnika je opisao školske dane svoga sina: „Tamo je išao godinu dana u švapsku školu. Jednom sam otišao u školu i video ga kako stoji sam siroma u ćošku. Švapčići okolo trče i igraju se. On stoji siroma’ u ćošku. Bio je stranac u to vreme, to je bilo ’72 ili ’75-’76. Pošo u školu, ne zna jezik. On se jeste tamo rodio i men’ bilo žao i kažem ženi: Slušaj, ja ću odma’ da ga odvedem u Jugoslaviju da uči Titinu školu, bre!“.. Danas situacija više nije takva pošto postoje razvijeni programi za što bolje prilagođavanje dece stranih radnika. Mnoge zapadne zemlje svesne poteškoća sa kojima se suočavaju strani državljani razvili su adekvatne psihološke i socijalne programe u koje su uključeni i roditelji i deca. Jedan od ispitanika koji još uvek živi i radi u Švajcarskoj pohvalno je govorio o tome (polasku svoje ćerke u vrtić) kako su ga „savetovali da dete kod kuće dobro savlada srpski jezik pre nego što krene na program učenja stranih jezika…“  “Ona ide tamo u švajcarski vrtić, naši ne postoje. Postoje naše dopunske škole. Interesantna stvar da pre nego što je ona krenula u školu mi smo imali razgovor sa prosvetnim radnicima. Ja sam isključivo sa njom razgovarao srpski. Pre nego što je krenula u predškolsko, pre toga je išla u vrtić.. Tri puta nedeljno po tri sata i tamo  je počela da uči nemački. Učila je i preko TVa. Tamo je način komunikacije jednostavan i deca lako uče taj nemački jezik, a uče ga samo na osnovi srpskog jezika. Kad sam otišao tamo na razgovor sa suprugom u tom pretškolskom gde ona sada ide su nam napomenuli da sa detetom govorimo isključivo srpski u kući jer je za jedan, dva i više jezika potrebna jedna osnova. Naš maternji jezik je srpski jezik i ona mora da govori srpski jezik dobro da bi mogla da sve ostale jezike lakše savlada. Ja sa njom govorim isključivo srpski.“
Život i način razmišljanja druge generacije se drastično razlikuje od života njihovih roditelja. Praksa ispitanika, pripadnika prve generacije je bila da sklapaju brak sa partnerima sa jugoslovenskog prostora, dok njihova deca nisu sledila to pravilo – za njih je stupanje u mešovite brakove bilo potpuno prirodno. Mnogi naši ispitanici, pripadnici prve generacije su s ponosom isticali činjenicu da nisu prihvatili državljanstvo zemlje u koju su otišli, smatrajući da time čuvaju svoj nacionalni identitet, što nije bio slučaj i sa njihovom decom.
S druge strane, deo radnika zasnivao je porodice u zemlji porekla, u kojoj su one najčešće ostajale. Bez obzira na to da li su sledili prvo ili drugo pravilo, pripadnici prve generacije iseljenika su sav stečeni novac ulagali u kuće (prostrane, ograđene visokim ogradama, sa masivnim kapijama, ukrašene betonskim figurama…), a sve svoje nade u povratak.
Oni su u Srbiju dolazili redovno, kad god su bili na odmoru. Njihova deca danas retko dolaze jer smatraju da bi ih takav odmor skupo koštao u odnosu na to šta bi njime dobili, pa se radije “odmaraju” u nekoj trećoj državi. Stoga kuće ostaju prazne, a sav napor da bi se one zaradile uzaludan.
Bez obzira na to koliko vremena provedu u zemlji privremenog rada, naši gastarbajteri, iseljenici prve generacije, retko nalaze prijatelje među strancima (uglavnom se druže sa radnicima iz bivših jugoslovenskih republika). Nivo komunikacije sa domaćim stanovništvom im je obično veoma nizak. Međutim, i potreba za boljim upoznavanjem svedena je na minimum. Radnici prve generacije još od početka računaju na povratak kući, najpre privremen (dolazak na odmore), a kasnije za stalno (odlazak u penziju). Njihov društveni status po povratku se menja i oni dobijaju mogućnost da aktivno utiču na svoju okolinu, ali to se najčešće ne dešava; njihov novac jeste uticao na razvoj specifičnog vida građevinarstva u Istočnoj Srbiji, ali mi bismo takav uticaj radije okarakterisali kao pasivan..
Iz razgovora sa predstavnicima opštine i povratnicima zaključili smo da postoji obostrana (ne)zainteresovanost za saradnju. Predstavnici opštine tvrde da gastarbajteri nisu spremni da svoj kapital ulože u neki od programa opštine, dok, s druge strane, većina gastarbajtera tvrdi da niko od njih nikada nije tražio da ulože u neki konkretan projekat. Mnogi od njih imaju sopstvenu privrednu delatnost, a, kako kažu, sa opštinom nisu spremni da sarađuju jer misle da uloženi novac ne bi završio na pravom mestu. Kroz njihove izjave se latentno provlači mišljenje da u opštini ima mita i korupcije i da strahuju da sa tim ne bi mogli da se izbore na legalan način u našoj zemlji.. U takvoj atmosferi nije moguć bilo kakav konstruktivan dijalog pa se njihovi životi nastavljaju u međusobnom nerazumevanju. Ono što bi eventualno trebalo dalje ispitati jeste da li je ovde reč o tipičnom problemu društva u tranziciji ili o odsustvu želje, znanja i sposobnosti da se stvori bolja i uspešnija životna sredina.
Izgleda da je posredi nespremnost za podelu moći između onih koji imaju vlast (predstavnici opštine) i onih koji imaju novac (povratnici iz inostranstva). Obe strane žele i jedno i drugo i smatraju da imaju potpuno pravo na to. „Kad bih živeo ovde ja bih se kandidovao za predsednika opštine. Istog momenta“, kaže jedan od ispitanika koji veruje da je živeći i radeći na Zapadu usvojio model organizovanog državnog sistema i birokratije koji je rad da primeni i ovde.
Čini se da gastarbajteri svojim privremenim boravcima ovde i tamo gube mogućnost da se identifikuju kao pripadnici bilo kog od dva društava u kojima povremeno žive, pa ih i tamo i ovde prihvataju samo kao Druge.. Oni sebe, naravno, ne vide tako, oni su ljudi koji svoja iskustva iz jednog društva žele da ponove i u drugom, ali pošto je to nemoguće (ili, u retkim slučajevima, veoma teško ili veoma sporo ostvarivo), oni ostaju da lutaju, ponašajući se ispravno na pogrešnim mestima ili, iz drugog ugla, pogrešno na pravim mestima.
Kao što se može primetiti, problem gastarbajtera je višeslojan i višeznačan. Njihova neprilagođenost i nespremnost za aktivno učešće u svakoj novoj sredini, kao i nespremnost, odnosno nemogućnost prilagođavanja u staroj, utiče na to da oni uvek budu klasifikovani kao “gastarbajteri” što svedoči o njihovom neprekidnom liminalnom statusu. Po odlasku na rad u inostranstvo, oni se odvajaju od stare sredine, dok u novoj sredini retko ili gotovo nikad ne bivaju prihvaćeni. Ta njihova liminalnost često može potrajati i veoma dugo (i po više od 40 godina). Za nas njihov liminalni status ne prestaje jer njegov kraj može biti jedino prelazak u drugi. Tokom tog perioda, oni su izloženi nerazumevanju ili “trpljenju” od strane stanovnika zemlje u koju su otišli i zemlje u koju žele da se vrate, dok i jedni i drugi prihvataju postojeće i konstruišu nove stereotipe.

U slobodnom vremenu
Za većinu naših ispitainika slobodno vreme je nepotrebno, beskorisno ili čak štetno. Mnogi od njih u slobodno vreme rade neki drugi posao „na crno“, gde im je trenutna zarada veća. Ako slobodnog vremena i imaju, najčešće ga provode sa svojom porodicom ili odlaze na službu u crkvu (ukoliko postoji pravoslavna crkva), gde mogu da se vide sa svojim sunarodnicima. Sa stanovništvom država u kojima rade najčešće ne stvaraju prijateljstva, čak ni kad su u pitanju kolege sa posla (ovo uglavnom važi za one koji su otišli u prvom talasu). Za kućne posete između stranaca postoje razne kulturne barijere, koje su naši ispitanici doživeli kao nepremostive. Oni koji žele da uštede ne mogu sebi priuštiti čak ni povremene izlaske, jer bi ih oni tamo koštali mnogo, pa im ne bi ostalo ništa da uštede za povratak. Za odmore dolaze u svoje kuće, a njima uvek trebaju neke popravke i dorade. Čak i kada dođu u penziju nastavljaju sa nekim poslom: jedni imaju privatne firme, a drugi se vraćaju obrađivanju svojih napuštenih imanja.

Kada se očekivanja ispune, a želje ne ostvare
U pričama povratnika, glavna motivacija za njihov odlazak bio je težak život. Nije ih motivisao samo nedostatak  posla već i želja da svojoj deci obezbede bolje uslove za život od onih koje su imali oni sami. Neki su bili đaci pešaci iz udaljenih sela. I kada su zaradili dovoljno da svojoj deci sagrade ogromne kuće u gradu (neki su im čak otvorili i privatne firme), želje njihove dece nisu se poklopile sa ostvarenjem njihovih želja. Njihova deca su tada želela više i krenula su, sada već utabanim putem, da bi ostvarila svoje želje, baš kao što su to nekada radili njihovi roditelji.

Između ovde i tamo
Mnogi naši ispitanici divili su se zakonima i efikasnosti njihovog sprovođenja u zemljama u kojima su radili. Takođe su isticali i to da je tamo manja korumpiranost i da se svi problemi mogu rešiti dijalogom. Ipak, nigde im nije bilo tako lepo i prijatno za život kao u Srbiji. Uprkos svim zamerkama koje su upućivali državnom i opštinskom rukovodstvu, uprkos svim disfunkcionalnostima koje su uočavali u ovdašnjoj privredi, uprkos svim problemima koje su primećivali u društvu, ovde su se više osećali kao svoji na svome.. I što je mnogo važnije ovde su uvek mogli da saosećaju kao svoji sa svojima i to je u njima najviše razbuktavalo tinjajuću želju za  povratkom.

Mada je najčešći razlog za povratak odlazak u penziju, to ipak nije jedini razlog. Oni koji su bili spremniji da se sa životnim nedaćama bore u svom rodnom kraju nego u inostranstvu vraćali su se kada bi zaradili prvu željenu sumu. Kod njih je želja da budu „svoji na svome“ bila veća od želje za bogatstvom. Oni su manje bili spremni da se prilagode novoj sredini, a više su nastojali da ugledajući se na nju menjaju svoj zavičaj. Otvorili su male privatne firme koje pripadaju domenu uslužnih delatnosti, po uzoru na slične koje su videli u inostranstvu. Osim vizije o tome kako će im firma sama izgledati, oni su doneli i nove načine u rukovođenju firmom i u ophođenju prema zaposlenima. Žale se da u tome još uvek nisu potpuno uspeli i da imaju mnogo teškoća.
Bilo je i onih koji se nisu vratili svojom voljom. Jedan ispitanik se sa porodicom vratio jer su mu roditelji bili bolesni. Nakon toga nije mogao ponovo u inostranstvo. Sada žali za danima kada je bio tamo i nikako ne može da se privikne na život ovde; kaže da je mnogo lošiji. Međutim, u zavisnosti od toga u kojoj zemlji su radili, mnogi naši ispitanici priznaju da bi na zapadu sa svojom penzijom jako teško živeli. Zato se ipak odlučuju za povratak u svoja mesta u kojima mogu da uživaju u statusu gazde.

Izuzeci (koji potvrđuju pravilo)
Ničiji život ne može se uklopiti u jedan obrazac. Svi naši ispitanici su bili međusobno različiti, a zamišljenom modelu neki su bili više, a neki manje slični. Ipak neki su više odudarali od ostalih.
Primećuje se da se život iseljenika u Švedskoj mnogo razlikuje od života ostalih ispitanika. Oni su ohrabreni i primorani da se bolje integrišu u društvo zemlje u koju su otišli. S druge strane, to je njihov povratak dovelo u pitanje. Njihov povratak je ograničen švedskim zakonom na kraće izdeljene posete svom zavičaju jer, ukoliko nisu u Švedskoj šest meseci u toku godine, gube pravo na penziju.
Jedan ispitanik je otišao na rad u inostranstvo, ali je, bez obzira na to što mu je dobro išlo, ubrzo odustao od toga. Kako kaže „nije imao vremena da radi“. Dovijao se na razne načine i putovao evropskim zemljama, a onda se vratio kući i nastavio da se bavi svojim ranijim poslom.

U potrazi za boljim
Mi nismo samo pročavali gastarbajtere, razgovarali smo sa ljudima poput nas. Oni su nekada otišli, kao što i svako od nas  negde krene po nešto, već spreman na  povratak. Ali svaki put nas malo izmeni da i ne shvatimo da povratka nema, pa sve vreme mislimo o njemu.
Na kraju puta ostane dilema i pitanje da li je išta od toga vredelo? Da li se taj dugi niz godina napornog rada u tuđini isplatio? To je pitanje koje gotovo svakodnevno sebi postavljaju naši ispitanici. Pravog odgovora nema. Ako je suditi po velikim i masivnim ogradama, ogromnim kućama sa skupim nameštajem, bazenima i skupim automobilima, onda jeste. Ali ako prosuđujemo na osnovu praznine i pustoši koja se nalazi s one strane kamenih ograda, onda nije!  Zadovoljstvo koje gotovo svaki naš ispitanik oseti kad pogleda u svoje “kameno carstvo” (u šta uloži obično sve što je zaradio), vrlo brzo smeni gorka ali na žalost tačna činjenica da to propada dok im deca i unuci žive negde daleko, u tuđini iz koje je on želeo što pre da se vrati ne bi li svojima pružio sve ono što sam nije imao.  A kad im je to pružio oni su želeli “radije Azurnu obalu nego da se ovde ubijaju od dosade”, kako je zaključio jedan naš ispitanik.