24 March 2009

The Quarry

I felt i was on top of the world. You'd think you could simply extend your arms and touch the sky. You can't help it. That's the impression the clouds that float past you give. I was in Cherrapunji. 4,869 ft above sea level. The climate was pleasant, cool. The air, delicious. It's kinda difficult to explain the freshness of the air to those who havent experienced it. But its very close to the smell of the soil after the first rain. Coming to think of it, there was a sense of anticipation hanging in the air. Like the long wait for the onset of monsoon. After all, i was at Cherrapunji, the wettest place on planet earth. It was March 2008. The terrain seemed to littered with mines for coal and limestone and the economy of the surrounding villages depended on these mines. Stopping by a limestone quarry to shoot seemed to be the most natural thing to do. And thus we (my friends and i) ended up at a mine, trying to communicate in sign language (the labrourers understood a few words of English though) until our interpreter came to our rescue.
On top of the world - Khasi hills, Cherrapunji. Limestones are seen piled on the road side and smoke from the quarries are seen at a distance.
The basket used to collect limestones sit prominently near a shack while the dynamites were being set on the rocks in the background.
Matilda Reahtam, a labrourer is seen taking a few moments of respite at the quarry while the rocks were being blasted using dynamites.
The limestone pieces are collected by a labourer (usually a woman) after the men break large chunks of limestone into smaller pieces.
A bigger piece of limestone is seen in the foreground, while Matilda continues picking moderate size stone pieces.
A small pool of water is seen in front of a shack as a result of the previous night's torrential rain.
Once the small pieces of limestone are selected and collected, the women seperate sand and other foreign particles from the stones.
The stones 'baked' at various stages are piled near the shack.
Young boys in their teens or early twenties are seen employed to carry the stones back and forth.
A labourer returns after dumping a basket full of limestones into the furnace.
Limestone is burnt for 13 hours before it is pulverised to be used to make paper, bath soap etc.
Labourers bring heaps of stones from distant mining fields in a truck. On an average, 24-25 tonnes of limestone is produced in these quarries in the Khasi hills.
I was listening intently at the echo of the dynamites when i saw some men waving frantically at a distance. Amused, i waved back. A few minutes later, a man came rushing by and indicated towards another shelter. Taking the que, i went with him into what looked like a stronger(if that was possible) shack. Later i found out that those waving men were trying to warn me against the blasts. The blasts were happening at a close distance and the dilapidated shack i had taken refuge in would have hardly stood the weight of a rock hurtling down on me.
The man who had come to my rescue posed for me later. Seen in the background is the skeltal shack i had taken shelter under.
After a hard day's work, the labourers have a late lunch in the 'office'.
My last vision of Cherrapunji. Seen in the picture are coal mines.

11 comments:

  1. this is beautiful work jo.....i love it!!!

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  2. josef james3/25/09, 8:47 AM

    awesome fotos...like the camera wrk...good job....all the best!!

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  3. WOW! You have killed the dreamy, rainy version of Cheerapunji that I had in my mind!
    Great work.

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  4. quite a surprise - cheerapunji, seems like u have been traveling a lot. Best of luck.. Good Images.

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  5. Gopal, Thank you.. but im not sure whether killing the 'dreamy, rainy' version is a good idea after all ! :/

    Shankar, Thank You!

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  6. great work. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  7. This post shows much courage+effort+passion+sincerity bringing out the best with what you saw is what I feel, keep up the good work -- thanks for introducing me to Cherrapunji =)

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  8. Thank you! but u are being very generous!!

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  9. even i was thinking i was going to see the cherrapunji rains, but great photos with a lot of life.

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  10. Very Hottest Pictures..Congrats yaar...

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