2.16.2011

CONSTRUCTION CREWS



All along the country roads women were doing highway maintenance. They wore beautiful, vivid, spangled saris, covering their heads to keep out the dust, and wielding pick axes and shovels. Bright bangles, earrings, nose rings and ankle bracelets sparkled. Work boots to protect their feet? They were usually barefoot. 

Where, we wondered, were the men? Later someone involved in local politics explained that when there was discussion about passing equal pay for equal work regulations, a group of women came to him to complain. “Are you crazy? You will ruin it for us. Right now, the companies hire women to do the work because we cost less. If you make them pay us more, we will not get the jobs. The jobs will go to the men. Please don’t do this.” 

11 comments:

Kathy said...

Sure puts our daily working lives (here in No. Virginia anyway) into perspective.

c said...

Again, cultural differences. Which we in the West consistently minimize.

Because, "we know better", don't we? Our arrogance knows no bounds.

snippets of thyme said...

We are surrounded in Houston with so many Indian families. We haven't been here long enough to befriend any but I always wonder what stories they have to tell. Most families have 3 generations living together. All 3 generations are so markedly different from each other. What an experience you are having.

casacara said...

Extraordinary on so many levels! That Indian women not only do highway work and swing pick axes, they do it in saris! Your blog posts from India have been revelatory and photographs outstanding. Thanks for these eye-opening views into country I've never visited but now feel I understand a bit more, in all its complexity.

Cristina said...

...that's why "just going and starting to improve others'habits" can be so tricky, if one doesn't deeply know what the situation actually is.

mary said...

I am in awe of these women. Two of them were no longer young. Such strength of character and determination. Such an inspiration to me. Could I do such arduous manual labor--no way. But these ladies are even smiling. Thank you for the shot in the arm.
Mary

pamingram said...

Mary's observations echo my own. These women are exceptional. The image of the woman wielding the pick axe in the foreground is especially compelling as she appears to be elderly ( probably my age- in her sixties) and yet capable,determined and, yes, inspiring. PSI

Karena said...

A stunning view into the lives of these women, beautiful, resiliant, and obviously very hard workers.

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

Dominique, thank you so much for the posts from India--my husband and I are going next winter with another couple (I'm the only first time visitor) to tour Rajasthan and the tiger preserve. So you are whetting my appetite for color; I especially loved the intensity of the marigold post--I had already embraced the marigold again because I travel to Mexico often and it's a major presence in the Day of the Dead celebrations. I love its spicy funny smell. Barbara

Victoria Zalatoris said...

I love this blog but you Dominique have a rather starry-eyed view of life. Here is the real "poop" on the situation you saw, according to another New Yorker who traveled to India on business for decades.

"That may be true about the pay scale, but it looked like the women were from Rajasthan......the desert area south of Delhi....where
it gets very, very hot.......too hot for the men to go out during the day, so they stay home and drink. Those bowls on the ground, near each woman, are filled with whatever they are hauling....dirt/concrete......and then transported to a truck/ or carried up a rickety ladder if they are building a house.

.....very large alcoholism rate!........ keeping their families poor and easy prey for low wages."

Watercolor said...

wow.