“I started at the workshop six months ago. I used to work the 700km Guangzhou to Xiamen route as a truck driver. It was exhausting. We did eight-hours-on, eight-hours-off shifts the whole time. The worst part was that I could only come home once a year to visit my wife and son. Now I see […]
“My favourite colour is definitely pink. I bought this jacket a few months ago. When I saw the vibrant pink lining it just called out to me.”
“I’m sorry to stare – I just love to look at foreigners. We don’t see many here.”
We half expect Shivkumar to say ‘everything’, he’s been laughing and joking from the moment we meet. But he’s far more specific. “My children,” he says. “Their laughter. If I hear them laughing, it makes me laugh too.”
“I’m a spray man,” Dilip says, seriously. We tell him that with the gun and the name, it makes him sound like a super hero. He almost smiles. “This isn’t a toy. When I have the spray gun in my hand, I have to focus.”
Munelal is cheeky and full of genuine cheer. We come upon him telling a story to one of his colleagues, he’s animated, and the other man is laughing. “I’ve been here for two years,” he says. “It’s a first class job. Great people, hard work,” he flexes his arms to show he’s strong. “I’ll retire […]
Hariram looks up at the ceiling, the universal sign for thinking. The thought grasped, he turns his gaze on us. “Trying to find a good husband for my sister. She wanted to get married so much.” He explains. “And then I found someone perfect for her. I introduced them, and in a month, they’ll be […]
MD chuckles a little, as though a joke has been said and he’s the only one who understood the punch line. “It’s funny, you know.” He says, letting us in on the joke. “I love my job, I enjoy this kind of work.” He starts to laugh. “But I can’t stand the smell of timber!”
The central building of the mango wood workshop is surrounded by an outdoor area, in which young mango trees grow. These particular trees, their leaves dusted with a fine coating of sawdust, aren’t here to be harvested. They’re a symbol for the carpenters and the carvers: men from Uttar Pradesh who honed their skills on […]
Luna runs his hand over the freshly cut curves of the Claude petite chest’s front. The shape is serpentine, undulating elegantly. “This is one of my favourite pieces to make,” he says. “Specifically because of the curves in the drawer front. As a carpenter, making something clean and straight is nice, but it doesn’t compare […]
It’s almost impossible to get Salim to speak or smile at first. He presented us with a tough exterior, but once peeled away, his softness, and not to mention, his ambition, is clear. “One day, I’d like to be a contractor, I’d like to be my own boss, to lead.”
He looks up from inspecting a freshly lacquered Sullivan and rattles off a volley of instructions to his workers, before turning back to us. “It’s very simple,” he says. “Family is the most important thing in my life. Especially my children.”
“I do not like music,” Ghanshyam states, very seriously. Taken aback, we push him. None at all? “No. I strictly do not like music.” The younger man, Rakesh, his brother-in-law, rolls his eyes when he hears this. He’s heard it before. “It’s pop music you don’t like,” he says. “I like to have the radio on […]
Mr Rambaby is one of the shyest artisans we met. He shuffles his feet and mumbles at first. “Any of your family?” we suggest, coaxing out a response. Then we spot the flicker of a smile. “My father,” he says. “He likes to tell stories; Indian stories, from ancient times. That man is always making me […]
Northern India during winter is cold. In a cavernous building reserved for woodwork, the chill seems contradictory to the warm hues that emanate from the vast stores of timber. All in varying stages of production, we watch as the Sullivan’s solid mango wood tabletop begins to take shape.
Gentle sparks fly to the sound of a static zapping and a mixture of wire, gas and molten steel fills the air. It’s a tart, but not-so-unpleasant, sulphuric aroma that emanates throughout the metal workshop.