Masonry skills in the 21st century

We went back to Hyderabad for a few days, and stayed in the same hotel we did in March 2014. We had a very similar room, with a very similar view (previous post). I thought for a while we actually had the same one, until I noticed there were a few additional “neighborhoods” that I been hidden by buildings last time, and found out we were now one floor above and a few meter to the right.  I could see a migrant camp I had not noticed last year.  However, since the area has really in the last 10 months, another one of the camps is no longer visible from that vantage point.

Camps I had not noticed in March 2014

Again, I spent many hours at the window, camera in one hand, book in the other. We hadn’t brought the “heavy artillery” camera-wise, but I still recognized some of our neighbors. This means that the same people have been living in this “hut” since at least March 2014.  

Once again, I watched their daily lives, the caring for the babies, the cooking, the sweeping, the laundry. I don’t know why there is a demarcation as to where the lady of the house has to stop sweeping, but the debris is always piled up outside and left in the same spots. The frenzied activities I had last seen around lunchtime didn’t happen.  On our second day, I woke up to see tarps covered in red chillies set out to dry.  This is a common sight, even in our ritzy rich compound, but I had never seen so many.  I thought they belonged to the people living in the hut, but late afternoon, the ladies working at the construction site a few feet away came back, gathered them and moved them away (click to enlarge image).

This time I had a much better view and had time to observe the masonry techniques at length. I am appalled. This is not a new feeling.  Anyone who lives in India can attest to the rudimentary (read: non existent) technology (previous post on working conditions). The wheel, one of mankind’s greatest inventions, is nowhere to be found during the construction of building in Cyberabad in 2015. All materials, sand, bricks, rocks, are carried on someone’s head, usually a woman’s. I have not seen one pulley, the good old pulley. Nor have I seen anything resembling a lever. I watched in detail cement pillars being made: plastic boxes used as moulds are laid around metal rebars. Concrete is mixed on the ground, brought up in flat plastic buckets, carried on women’s heads, handed to a man, and poured into the boxes. The bucket is then returned to the woman who goes to refill it and is soon followed by another.

As for safety measures, take a good look at the “escalator” they use: a few rods of bamboo set at an incline. All workers are wearing flip-flops and most don’t wear gloves. Men working at the top of what is currently a 10-story building are not wearing helmets (one is just hanging on a pole), and the safety net leaves much to be desired as it does not protect the entire perimeter.

Coincidently, I have recently since met two people who each own a construction business. I did not have the guts to ask them how much technology they use.

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2 Responses to Masonry skills in the 21st century

  1. ShethP says:

    Uh! If only you would have (referring to the last line)!
    It surprises me how we miss out on the simplest of things which you happen to pick up so easily. Wheels! Why didn’t I think of that?! All I can ask of you is, next time you meet those two people, do ask them about the technology and safety measures. Maybe it might not be their fault (who knows?!), and if it isn’t we all will be able to learn why exactly we refrain from making use of the facilities we do have at our disposal but fail to acknowledge.
    I am so glad I found your blog! Your post makes me realize how much we can learn by looking at things from others’ perspectives. Looking forward to reading more… 🙂

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