Observations, Khoj Lane, 6 pm 17 June 2015, Satender Tiwari

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At 6 pm in the evening there is around more than 100 workers standing in the Khoj lane. Groups of these men are in front of each shop, and even in the middle of the lane, talking to one another about what they have experienced during the day. They talk noisily, in loud voices. They sit on the road, lean against walls of buildings and against parked autos and motorbikes. The fast-food stalls (samosa, pakora etc.) and tea shops in this lane have seating arrangements for customers, so they hang around there for a long time. The workers all seem to know each other as fellow migrants and walk around chatting with each other or talking on their mobiles.

I asked one of them why they stayed in the lane for such a long time. He said that all the groups had return after work exhausted. One member of each group would go to their room, shared by up to 10 people, to cook dinner for the group while the rest remained outside till the dinner was prepared, as the street was cooler than the room which became very hot when the cooking took place. The men outside relaxed with tea and snacks bought in the lane, and also used the time to purchase supplies such as grains, vegetables, oil and spices from their daily wages. They usually did not have enough money to buy supplies in advance.

I did not see a single woman or girl in the lane at that time, obviously due to the large gathering of men. The local women must be using other lanes to access the main road or cut through the neighbourhood. The people on the street did not move aside for cars or bikes even when the drivers repeatedly blew the horn. The men would shift slightly but as soon as the vehicle passed they would again block the road. They seem so busy talking to each other and with their tasks, they simply don’t bother about who needs to pass or bother about making space for anyone.

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