Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ganja Boys

At the stroke of midnight, one day last week, these cyclerickshaw-walahs were smoking kaya on a Madras pavement. The one on the left was in a particularly boisterous mood and started whistling and dancing a jig when I started making photographs…

For thousands like them, the pavement is their universe. You can see several generations of several families in clusters all over North Madras (where I grew up) and other poor pockets in the rest of the city. They live in the open and when it rains they huddle under the awnings of nearby shops or public buildings like schools and marriage halls.

The one defining characteristic of their lifestyle that springs to my mind is the periodic, high decibel, ganja and booze fuelled quarrels that break out between families. The protagonists are usually the women folk and the main topic of discussion during these quarrels is the sexual history of various members of the feuding families.

I learnt all the really colorful parts of my Tamil by listening to them as a child…

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