Saturday, 23 February 2008

Itinerant Builders and Roadworkers in Bangalore, Southern India

Scattered here and there, in small and large groups, on bits of waste ground where building or road works are going on, are encampments of ragged tents and crude temporary structures. They often take the form of a bamboo framework constructed of a row of half circles linked by horizontal purlins. This is covered with odd bits of plastic sheeting, usually blue, and occasionally with dried palm leaves, to make a small low room directly on the bare earth. Each one of these is home to a family while the work lasts. When the road or building is finished the workers and their families must pack up and move on.

We are visiting in the cool of winter when the daytime temperature reaches 29C. I cannot imagine how the people tolerate these abysmal living conditions without rising up in angry revolution, yet the families we pass are invariably cheerful. The parents wave and smile while the children, who should be in school but aren’t, rush up laughing, keen to be photographed.
“One photo, one photo Uncle.”


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