"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

work

Putting On A Show: Mollywood Revisited

It is just seven o’clock in the morning.
But the film crew have been busy since dawn.
________________

________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


Who Will Buy?

A hard sell
________________

For a gentle man.

________________

________________

Pictures taken in Kannumpuram, Fort Cochin.


Wandering Westward: Capitol Venture

________________

________________  

________________

Picture of the Capitol, Washington DC, viewed from the east.


Mobility Issues

Transporting festival paraphernalia to and from the temple.

________________


________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin 


Inside The World Of Fashion

________________

________________


________________

Picture taken in Cochin 


Factory Acts

Scenes from a rubber factory in the Koottickal hills, Kerala.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The pungent tang of latex, combined with dramatic contrasts of light and shade, made our visit strangely powerful.
________________


Threewheeling..

________________


________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin


The Leaf Sweeper

A leaf sweeper fixes his broom.
________________


________________

Picture of the leaf-sweeper beside a pile of burning leaves, taken in Fort Cochin .


The Human Chain

Women labourers form a human chain, raising concrete to the top floor of a construction site.
Such building projects invariably use poor, itinerant women from adjoining states, rather than cranes.
They are cheaper.
________________

Picture taken in Fort Cochin.


The Sandman


________________

________________

Picture of boys sanding wooden pallets, taken in Fort Cochin.


The Cobbler’s Tale

________________

And, if you have thirty-five minutes to spare, I commend this little gem of a documentary:

View this movie at cultureunplugged.com

________________
Picture taken in Palace Road, Fort Cochin

Northern Exposure: Part 2

Light work.
________________ 

Picture taken at Humayun’s tomb, Delhi, during a tour of northern India.


Saturday’s Child

Saturday’s child works hard for a living
________________ 

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe 
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for a living.

________________

Picture taken in an “open-all-hours” photographic studio and printers, Kunnumpuram, Cochin. 


Workshop

________________

________________

Pictures taken in Palace Road, Cochin.


The Apprentice

________________

In India, working for the family business starts at an early age.
________________

Picture taken in Cochin.


Temple Traders

________________

Finally we had arrived in Hampi,
The primary goal of our travels. 

________________

Hampi is a city long deserted.
All that remains are the ancient stone temples and palaces: some remarkably intact; others in various degrees of dilapidation.
But the vast site provides excellent opportunities for those wishing to make money,
From both tourists and pilgrims.

 ________________

Family businesses

________________

And children’s market stalls:

________________

________________

________________


Young men

________________

And old men:

________________

All ply their trades

In an exotic world where religious piety and financial profit seem reluctant to part.

 ________________


Work, Rest And Pray

________________

A makeshift market has arisen outside the temple walls.
Here vendors offer religious images, books, clothes and refreshments.

________________

Others rest beneath blue tarpaulins, acquiring a sickly cyanotic hue .

 ________________

But further down the hill lies an important annexe of the temple.

A giant statue of the bull Nandi, gate-keeper and mount of Lord Shiva and Parvati.


Devotees leave their offerings behind this mystical beast’s ample haunches

And seek blessings from the shrine’s priest.

_______________

We head back to the car park

And rescue the car.

________________


Monthly Measures

Every month the thing in the corner must be seen to:

The fish caught and the water changed.

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________


________________



A Perception Of Emptiness

________________

We had planned to use the swimming pool.

________________

________________

But it seemed we were to be disappointed.

________________

________________

________________

Fortunately, the hotel had a second pool!

________________

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________


Under Construction

Across the road from me, the construction of a three-story, apartment block continues.

Some days it is extremely busy.

Other days, less so.


________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________


Road Mending

________________

The sound of loud chatter assailed me just latterly – noise that had come from outside.

To wit this disturbance – a certain perturbance –  my manservant also espied.

Shaji ran in from the yard’s lofty gate,

He spoke like a prophet or seer:

“Sir, please. Come quickly. No time to be sickly!

Road-roller and workers are here, they’re here – they’re here!

Road-roller and workers are here.”

________________

________________

Fort Cochin’s new mayor is aware of the prayers that voters have made for their streets.

Casual labour’s been summoned. My dream is they’ll come and create a road fit for aesthetes.

At present it’s pot-holed and traversed by fissures.

Driving’s a challenging feat.

It’s quite hard to ensure, in taxi or rickshaw, one’s bottom remains on the seat, the seat – the seat!

One’s bottom remains on the seat.

________________

________________

While tarmac is pouring, and neighbours adoring the new mayor’s fair-square policy.

I can’t help but notice this finishing coat is effectively foundation-free.

Beneath the thin layer of asphalt and concrete

Lies soft earth and loose sand combined.

At the monsoon’s returning, we’ll soon be re-learning

If dreams remain merely moonshine, moonshine – moonshine!

If dreams remain merely moonshine.

________________

With apologies to Edward Lear

________________


________________



Morning Chores

Just minutes after sunrise

Morning chores begin.

Hard work

For old joints

________________

________________


Hard Labour

They arrive early,

Before eight in the morning.

Fortunately Shaji has also come very early, to supervise.

________________

After two years of owning this house I have acquired a lot of rubbish:

Building rubble; old tiles and sanitary ware from refurbished bathrooms; damaged cupboards which have been removed from bedrooms and the kitchen; and even remnants of the thing in the corner.

________________

To my surprise, the task-force consists mainly of women.

They change out of brightly coloured, immaculate saris into their work clothes,

Then, with small shovels, scoop the rubble into baskets and carry it on their heads to the waiting open-topped vans.


These are Tamil women from the neighbouring Indian state of Tamil Nadu: a large “go-ahead” state, but with many extremely poor and illiterate workers.

A small team of Kerala men – drivers and supervisors – sit chatting and reading newspapers while the Tamil women set to their heavy manual work.


I had planned to feed on all the details of my compound’s clearance for this blog.

But the sight of so many women earning their children’s food by the literal sweat of their brow somehow shames me.

________________

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________


Home Work

A small fleet of bicycles announces the workers’ arrival.

________________


________________

The house is due its annual repaint.

Prolonged monsoon rains have prevented a start on the exterior. But work can begin on the first floor (second floor to American readers).

An Air-Conditioning unit needs moving from the house-boy’s room to a guest room. The whole house, plus the roof terrace, needs redecorating.

Shaji, my “house-manager” diligently supervises the work force. Dalila, my cook, prepares food for the men’s lunch. Babu, my electrician, oversees the dismantling and shifting of the AC components. Anu, the house-boy, clears his room and acts as general go-fer.

________________

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

________________

Exhausted by the sight of so much activity, I capture the scene for posterity, then ask for a Kingfisher and retire downstairs to recover.