Picking up from where I’d left last…above: A cart pusher in Asansol.
The term “gamchha” derives from the Bengali ga mochha, which means wiping (the) body-local term for a sweat towel. Gamchhas are most commonly found in check and striped patterns of red, orange, green, blue…They’re are also worn as lungis, belts, turbans – styles derived from practicality & nature of tasks the wearer is involved in.
I found myself a spot in the middle of a Y junction in front of a closed shop. There was a small tea shop 10 yards ahead. Idlers there would occasionally look in my direction, talk amongst themselves, and at times smile at me. A little disconcerting. Two people came to me and asked “newspaper?” I said yes. (A lie, obviously.) After a while one of the workers came and sat next to me but didn’t say a word. Often he would smile and try to look into the camera.
We talked for a bit. Soon he got called out for some work and left. I sat there for two hours till I started to see the same men. I was finding it awkward to get up as I was all comfortable in the awkwardness of being in the middle of those occasional stares for long. Eventually I got up, went straight to the tea shop…had a cup of tea, a smoke, & said thank you to whoever listened..
All photos from my July trip.
A gamccha costs 30Indian Rupees(less than a dollar).