Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Our Cities Are Made Of : A Photo Story of an Urban Street

The images below have some symbols which are probably quite common place today and no longer catch our attention. However, there’s a story of humankind that they tell. Following are some observations. 

Part I: A Walk 

Observation 1: The trees are no more in the foreground; they occupy a secondary status today as compared to concrete.

Observation 2: A man who has labored all day walks to return home with a sickle in his hand, wearing rubber slippers. His labour has been consumed and he has no more a share in what he built, like the painted english words on the wall state in no ambiguous terms who the site belongs to. Private property of the capital owner of this concrete! Well, since when did people start “owning” land and then, also “owning” what is constructed on it? And how do we decide who “owns” it? The contributor of labour or capital? How did one gain precedence over the other? And wait, how do we fix the value of the land or the construction so that it can be owned? Who does it? These questions have no easy answers and anyway, we seem to have taken them for granted.

Observation 3: And just in case anyone tries to object to these basic ground rules that human kind seems to have developed over the years, we have “keys and locks” to protect the territory from “trespassers” and yes, of course, the whole state machinery ensures to keep all the non-owners from disturbing your privacy of property.

Observation 4: A road is laid down by the state for the ease of transport of those who own these buildings so they can commute to and fro between their private properties with vehicles again owned by them which need roads of course. Well, the labourer who toiled all day to build can use his feet to commute, however long a distance he might have come from. He doesn’t seem to own much other than his sickle and a small bag of items that he probably uses for work.

Part II: How to become confident!

Not feeling confident? Try plywood!

Still not? Try getting a hairdo!

Still no? Try learning spoken English!

Or much cheaper! Just have a Coca Cola!

Part III: Our World and Their World

While we get our spacious two or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a balcony with a view constructed, they who construct them are packed into the corners, not disturbing the scenic beauty around us. While we dine in our expensive hotels, they are threatened from even entering such spaces lest they spoil the experience.

Part IV: But we just want to live life king size!

We fancy ourselves along the royal heritage of kingdoms and their castles, our colonial rulers, our ‘fairer’ cousins, if only we could be fairer and lovely too. We too want to go global like they did. Vulgar display of wealth? But our wealth is legitimate. Through legitimate systems which favour us just a little more than those who couldn’t compete with us. Earned through our hard work. They might work harder than us too but theirs is physical labour which has not much value. Who fixed that value? Nevermind. It’s the government’s job to take care of them. What can we do?

Part V: Our Private and Our Public Spaces
Which class are you? Premium? No? You can belong to the ‘premium class’. Just buy this!

Public-private partnership?

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