Of builders and beneficiaries

There is a lot of major construction activity going on all around me: on the home front, in the road in front of my house, in the locality that I live in.  My home is being overhauled; the road is being widened; and the locality is being thoroughly upgraded to raise it to the standard of an ‘IT-corridor’ as so many from the city’s software industry are now making their homes here.

For a month and more I have been closely observing the workers in these construction activities and getting to know them a bit.  Most of them have moved over to this city from their native places several hundred kilometres away. The major reason for their displacement is ‘hotte paadu’ as they say in the local language: ‘the stomach’s agony.’ Most of them are young to middle aged. The older ones among them have young kids who just tag along, playing with each other or with any garbage they can play with, creatively. Today, for instance, many kids were playing with thermocol packing material. None of them go to school, most of them do not even know the basic alphabet, though their numerical skills are sharp and they expertly navigate mobile phones – which incidentally are ubiquitous and loaded with fancy, filmi ringtones.  All of them – the young, the old, the women and men – are thin; very, very thin.

I wonder when they will revolt. They build others’ homes, while they are forced to leave their own far behind; they build roads for vehicles which it is doubtful if they will ever own or use: they walk on the non-existent pavement on the sides of the road, several kilometres to the public transport system’s bus shelters; they construct and decorate layouts for a crowd that is too time-stressed to even notice them, much less think about them or their plight…

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