Quarries of Rampura
In the rocky outskirts of Bangalore, close to a village called Rampura, I stood witness to an occupation that looks both primitive and merciless. A group of labourers from Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu toil hard for long hours under the fierce afternoon sun, breaking rocks with a chisel and hammer and with bare naked hands to eke out a living. There is a sense of dedication, commitment and the occasional helplessness palpable. Women, whose struggle seems hardest, often have to leave their 2 year-olds on a spread-out towel, under the shady respite of a rock face. Their only company is the repetitive sound of metal hitting stone resounding in the carved-out valley. The landscape is one of dusty pale grey.
Manoharan, a worker at the quarry, shows me with a tinge of authority the dynamite sticks that they use for the late evening blasts to break the bigger rocks. He also shows me around what was once his home- ‘Although people are evacuated before the blasts begin unexpected shrapnel sometimes crash into our huts rendering them irreparable. We just have to build another’. Lakshmi who returned from work to cook an early dinner looks to the craggy horizon for a familiar silhouette of her husband. Her little daughter, Amala, straddles cheerfully on her aunt’s hip as she is paraded around a settlement of huts, all covered with sheets of bright blue plastic. As the sun goes down, the dust of the quarry settles to make way for the aroma arising from these blue plastic homes.