04 December, 2020

Beyond Spade And Brush: Inner World Of Mazdoors

A tale of Delhi’s itinerant labourers, told with restraint, potent irony, gentle humour and understated empathy

Jitender Gupta
Beyond Spade And Brush: Inner World Of Mazdoors

The headiest part of being a young city reporter is the speed with which the job allows you to enter new worlds. One such world for the engaged reporter is that of the street and its poor, who become more vivid and human when he meets them as protagonists, witnesses, complainants, victims and voters. His notebooks fill up with quotes sharper and saltier than he would have ever imagined, but sadly, these encounters rarely translate into writing of long-lasting value. Few Indian media outlets would pay for their reporter to spend long hours, month after month, in Bara Tooti Chowk, mecca of itinerant labourers in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar, to get under the skin of Mohammed Ashraf, that eccentric Bihari daily-wage painter, full of possibilities, he once met on a story; and give space for the kind of writing that effort would produce. The reporter must for the most part mobilise his own resources, own space and own time; and how many would give their spare time to Ashraf and his friends?

Well, Aman Sethi did just that—over not one, not...



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