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Ethnographic Research

Artisans making silver jeweller for adivasis of Madhya Pradesh

Simran Chopra NMD 2010-2012

Demographics

Participant Observations

Date: 25th March, 2011 Time: 3 pm to 6:30 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Old man (running a printing press, wearing spectacles), another man (helper in printing press), Tanuja and me.

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Yesterday I was unsuccessful in deciding a group that I was interested in or who would talk to me. I was really confused what is that I was looking for and wanted to study, so decided to go to the field again today. On reaching Manek Chowk still didnt have any idea of where to go and what to look for. The quest started through the small lanes and heavy traffic by keeping my eyes and ears open. I was heavily depending on my instinct, a reaction or response that will trigger an interest. Passing through the small lanes looking out for probable workplaces, workshops where I could find a group of people working. Was still wondering what exactly you call a group that I can study. People working together, relatives, sharing the same business, from the same community, from the same cast or background etc. were the thoughts crossing my mind. All this while I was concentrating only on my thoughts rather than my eyes and ears that I had initially started with. Going further deep into the web of smaller lanes I grew conscious of the sounds that were there as the noise of the traffic had faded out. I could hear the noises of a bicycle bell, a pressure cooker, a bargain happening on the road. You could hardly see any vehicles on the roads a few passersby on foot. I felt as if the pace of life had suddenly changed. A few lanes deeper, the lifescape changes in the same area of the city. But to think of it no two places or people are the same so why was I expecting it to be the same. Maybe I am accustomed of seeing similar looking lane patterns, relating to where I come from (Chandigarh) where everywhere you see order and everything looks same. I was still trying to find people who looked free and friendly enough to talk. Walking down the lane saw a few metal workshops, people working on jewelry, scrap shops and some vegetable vendors. I moved on to find something more interesting. At a distance heard a sound I was familiar with, the sound of paper being cut. On a big machine when you have heaps of paper kept in bundles cut by a manual blade machine. I thought to myself that it was the sound of a printing press or a book binding store. Trying to locate the sound I looked around and saw a dusty looking old shop with a metallic shutter on whose entrance a table was kept and a really old man was sitting there. I thought the place looked approachable enough. I crossed the road and reached the small stone steps leading up to the shop. The old man looked at me with wide eyes maybe waiting for me to ask him something. He looked really old with wrinkled face, long white hair and beard sitting on an old table. He was wearing a white kurta pajama and a pair of wide rimmed spectacles, reminded me of my grandfather. The place too was really old; the shelves behind him with books had gathered dust, ceiling fan looked as if it wasnt cleaned for decades and the table had bottles of medicines. I was observing the place trying to see the scope of my project and how it can fit with the surroundings making the poor man wait for me to give him a reply to his questioning eyes. There were

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two other people at the scene probably helpers as one of them was in the inside room binding books and the other one was sitting right opposite to the old man in the front room of the area. The inner room had the machines and the heaps of printed paper. I turned to the old man and the first words that came out of my mouth were aap yahan printing press chalate hai which was a stupid obvious question to ask and the obvious answer was yes. The old man said yes in a questioning tone and asked me what I was looking for. I tried to give him an explanation that I am a student of NID who has to choose a group in the field and have to study the group and understand how they work and what they do. The incident got weird because I couldnt explain to him what I needed from him and why was I here in a more certain tone maybe because I was not clear myself. I made a total fool of myself asking random questions like do they manufacture the medicines that were kept on his table which looked ayurvedic to me because of their which plastic bottle packaging with a yellowish red sticker on them. I asked him if there were other printing presses in the area and he replied no in a suspicious low tone. He kept asking me what I want and how can he help me Aap mujhe batayengi nai thik se to mere ko kaise pata lagega, mein aapki madad kaise kar sakunga were his exact words. The other man sitting in front of him probably a tried to join the conversation but was shut up by the old man. I was really embarrassed of the situation I thought to myself that I was not able to explain him even though I thought that explaining him would be easy. Maybe in my subconscious mind I had perceived him to be dumb or a easy target. I confronted the fact that I myself was too confused to give a clear answer to what I was doing and asking. Before I could do damage control he mentioned a NID kid who had once come to see his workshop and also couldnt explain him his purpose of visit he said he just wanted to see the architecture of the place which the old man then also couldnt understand. He repeatedly said if you dont tell us what, how we can help you. Flabbergasted I thought it would be better if I took more time to understand and explain to myself before I do to others of what I was doing and going to do. I told the old man I needed more time to explore other professions people had in the place and will come back if I decided to do a study on printing presses. It seemed unlikely that I would be back as I was highly embarrassed, smiled to him, climbed down the stairs and silently walked along the lane. The situation had just shown me that I needed to think before I speak and act. Walking along I thought about what to say to people, what I was doing and why should they allow me in their work place. Suddenly it struck me that I didnt know where I was and suspected to be somewhere in the back lanes of the stationery market. From one lane to another, without knowing where I was heading and what I wanted to do next I carried along my quest. Finding answers to the jumble that was going on in my head. Face the world yourself was the inspiration and a fact that I had to stick to and move ahead. Trying to find my way back to Manek Chowk seemed like a solution at the time but I didnt want o ask my way out. I wanted to discover the road back myself hoping that in the process I will find something or someone that will interest me in my project. It was getting to me, the heat and the frustration. I was agitated and irritated because I had just had a bad experience; I was lost, couldnt find anyone today also who I could study as a group for my project and time was running out.

Date: 25th March, 2011 Time: 3 pm to 6:30 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev Bhai (old man in supposed power, wearing spectacles), Hiralal (other old man man wearing spectacles), Mukesh Bhai (old chinki looking guy, always smiling), Kamlesh Bhai (youngest), Tanuja and me.

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Couldnt find a main road for a long time so took to what I thought would be north, thinking that it would lead me somewhere close to Teen Darwaza. On my way was again trying to listen and concentrate on sounds that I can hear in the vicinity in the areas I was crossing. The noise of the traffic was blocked out I could hear people chatting and clinging of porcelain teacups. I was on a lane surrounded with houses on either sides the walls were white but were old as I could see the white wash faded out at places and the bricks of the wall being exposed. The small lanes were not more than 2ft wide. Only a two wheeler could be the mode of transportation here is what I thought to myself. A tea stall was just around the corner and I was right in recognizing the sounds I had heard earlier on. The typical sounds of the tea stall, comprising of the chitchat, clinging of china, boiling of tea in the enormous pan and the tap of a spoon on the vessel. I thought I could take the tea stall as my area but on the other hand I thought that it was my desperation to fixate on a group that was making me select the tea stall. I also thought that it would be very limiting as there will only be one man operating the stall and the group I could target would be the people visiting the tea stall daily. Walking along in the same lane I saw two cement benches placed opposite each other in front of a small house whose placement was angular and whose entrance was 5 mts away from the road with the front being the two benches. I could hear the sound of a blow torch used for welding. I wanted to know where the sound came from and started looking for the source. Inspecting further the sound came from the same place the small house that I had been seeing because of the benches. On the other hand I wouldnt say it to be a house as it didnt seem like one, it was angularly placed between two buildings that were taller to it and it had a common entrance leading to three other doors that were open. The place seemed very commercial there were two men in their 50s probably were sitting together on one of the benches and discussing something. One of them was talking in Gujrati and the other was paying attention to him listening keenly. I didnt pay much attention to them or the discussion at hand as I was more concerned about the sound that was coming from inside the house. I crossed them and I caught a glance of them looking at me from the corner of my eye. I couldnt understand the look that they were giving but I didnt bother too much. I headed towards the entrance of the house. Crossing the main doorway which didnt have a door, I saw three doors inside. On two of them there were men sitting. The small white broken door in front of me just opposite the entrance was where the noisy sound was coming from. At the entrance sat a man in his early 20s with the blow torch torching some springs kept on two bricks. On the other door now that I walked closer in, saw two men sitting on

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a white cloth covered gadda in deep discussion and their backs rested on the wall. I wanted to go inside to the door where the man was torching, wanted to see what he was doing. At first glance it looked as if a metal workshop, I deciding to go in and talk to him. I asked myself if I was barging in and it would be nicer to get permission before I disturb him. I smiled at him and asked kya mein ander aa sakti hun, through the noise of the blow torch. May be he couldnt hear me through the noise was my understanding so I asked again also using my hand gestures this time. He replied something I couldnt hear, both his hands were busy with the work he was blow torching some coils which looked like springs, but he smiled. I took it as an indication and reached the door. I wasnt sure of what he was doing and would he like me intruding in his work. I took out my floaters noticing that there were 4 pairs of slippers and shoes at the doorstep. I entered the room and the noise stopped. I saw three more men who were older to him by at least 20 30 years, working on similar looking metal. I quietly walked in without an explanation. At the moment I thought I should sit down on the floor like them and observe what they are doing rather than asking them questions. Observing them will answer the questions that I had been struggling with in my mind and will allow me to decide if I would want to take them as my group. I smiled looked around and sat down on the floor crossed legged as soon as I did that all of them looked at me with wide eyes. I immediately asked them aap yahan kya banate hai suspecting that I soon will be bombarded with questions. The old man sitting on my right with respect to where I was said something in Gujrati and I gave a blank look. He further explained something which also didnt make sense to me so I told him in a low voice mujhe samajh nahi aya. The man replied gehney banate hai MP (Madhya Pradesh) kshetra ke liye. I told him again that it didnt make sense to me and he replied Adivasi ke liye, he asked me if I was an Indian. I replied to him by saying haan mein bharat se hi hoon par kabhi naam nahi suna is jagah ka inspite of me not catching the name of the adivasis or the place. He explained again hum banate hai jo adivasi log pehente hai. He further asked me if was from Ahmedabad and I replied yahan rehti hoon par yahan ki nahi hoon after saying it I realized it didnt make sense I should be more elaborate in my explanation. He asked me kahan se ho, gujrati nahi aati I replied Punjab and I told him nodding my head that I couldnt understand gujrati. The younger one in the group suddenly jumped in the conversation and said Jalandhar and replied back saying nai Chandigarh. I asked them to give me permission to sit for a while and see what they do. They allowed me to sit and watch them at work. While I was still in my thoughts they all got back to work. They all had smiles on their faces which could mean a lot of things at the moment. Only girl among them appeared from nowhere asking them permission to sit among them and see them work, I was thinking of the level of weirdness for them and me. I was not sure if they would entertain me and could they be my group for the research. I was still wondering, so decided to ask them a few more questions and see if they are willing enough to answer. Sitting crossed legged on the floor and observing all of them working at an incredible speed. I decided to concentrate, ask question to the person who had been questioning and replying to me so far. I thought to myself that he would probably be the person in power in the group as he took the lead to ask me questions. He would be the one responsible for the other three. Three of them looked approximately the same age maybe in their late 40s or early 50s and the fourth one would be in his early 20s. All of them wore torn old clothes. The predominant color was white and light shades like beige. The top was the Baniyaan and the bottom was a white pajama or an old pant which had holes or torn ends. The dressing of all four of them was more or less the same only one of

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them wore a t-shirt on top which was very old looking; he was the one continuously smiling. The neck of the t-shirt had worn out and was hanging in an irregular form it was also torn at a few places. All the three oldies had white hair and wrinkled face telling their approximate age. Two of them wore spectacles, the one in supposed power and the one who was silently working in his corner. They were working in a room which would be around 20ft by 10 ft. with a few machines like a metal cutter, a stationary drill machine, strip cutter, blow torches and weighing scale. The place was filled with sounds or I would say noise, making it difficult for me concentrate on my string of thought and the questions that I was framing in my mind. Obviously I couldnt ask them to stop working so I shouted in the noise and asked the old man on my right, the one in power probably what metal they were working on he replied to me saying everything was silver. I was astonished to know that because the amount of metal they were working with was a lot and would mean a lot of money. He explained to me that the metal doesnt look like silver because of the grease coating on it. He directed my attention to the younger one who was torching the coils and how they turn white when he finishes. The old man himself was cutting out smaller pieces of the metal strips he held in his hand, meticulously measuring each one of them so that they are of the same size. His measuring device was simple, another piece that he had already cut to size. He kept on working and talking at the same time but it was really difficult for me to understand anything because of the noise in the room. Then came the question why I was there I tried explaining that I was a student at NID, national institute of design which he didnt understand so I translated in Hindi saying rashtriy design sansthaan. I told him that I was studying in a course there I didnt want to mention new media design it would be striking an axe on my own foot. Explaining new media design to someone who doesnt even know about NID would be really tough. Leave that I am not able to explain to my parents or to the fact to myself what exactly is new media. As I was wondering in my own thoughts he asked me to design karte ho I replied yes and thought to myself of how nowadays everyone knows the word design and have their own interpretations of it. I was further terrified if he asked me what is design or what do I do at NID. I took a sigh of relief as the topic didnt turn up and he went back to his work. To explain why was I there and what I was doing I gave an explanation saying that our teacher has asked us to see and find a place, a profession that we can study and learn from. We have to make report of our findings. To divert the topic to their work I asked him what they were making. He told me something but I couldnt understand the word maybe because of the noise or his Gujrati accent. He said explaining pair mein pehente hai from a steel cupboard kept at a corner of the room took out a bowl full of some heavy chain like things. Took out one of the pieces of jewelry and showed me and said pair me. I replied in a understanding manner pajeb, payal ki tarah. I thought to myself maybe he perceives me to be dumb as he was explaining me stuff again and again as I dont make sense of it at the first go. But from my point of view the blame goes to the amount of noise present there. I continued the conversation and asked them who they make it for, the old man in power replied they make it for people who give them orders. I asked them who the ones were giving them order he said Vyaparis who deal in silver ornaments. I asked him further were the Vyaparis from the same place, he gave me a blank look so I added people who run jewelry shops at Manek Chowk. He told me that they take orders from outside the state and dont supply to people at Manek Chowk. He said his payals go

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far ends of the country and supplying nearby means a lot of magajh mari. I asked them aap kitne log hai, he replied saying bus hum, jo abhi hai. They are self employed, getting orders, working on them, outsourcing the work they cant do example finishing and polishing. I asked them the timings of their work he told me it was 9:30 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening. I told them that they worked long hours. The old man replied rozi roti hai, pade likhe nai hai na, haath ki mazdoori karni padti hai. I probed more and asked him isnt that good, he replied saying padh likh jate to white collar job milti, kam nai karna padta. I was listening and laughing to myself what people they think of the typical educated man that he doesnt work. I told him people who can read and write or are educated also work and have a lot of pressure for earning their lively hood. Sitting in big offices they also work for 18 hours or more in a day. He replied to my remark saying zada kam hota hai to overtime karte hai. The youngest one added haath ki mazoori karte hai to neend achi ati hai. The other old man with spectacles said Kaam nai karte to neend bhi nai ati. I thought to myself it was about time the other three became a part of the conversation as there was only of them asking me questions and replying to mine. It was him again who asked me what does your dad do? I replied him my dad is in the bank. Manager hai? I replied Haan. Showed me how each part that each one of them is making will be put together and will form the jewelry he held in his hand. The strips will make the lock, the coils will be made into the chain and the other strips will join the anklet in places. He was kind enough to take patience in me and time off cutting his strips and explaining his work to me. I kept quiet for a while looking at them work and decided that I would like to work with them as my group so I should ask permission to come daily and spend time with them. I asked him if I could come daily and learn from them their craft for my project. The old man said ladies not allowed he said I cannot allow you to work here, on inquiring why he explained me that the place had dangerous machines and could get badly hurt. The youngest one added bahot aawaz hai, pollution bhi hai on asking him what he means by pollution he said garmi, acid, shor, dhua aur sans ki bimari. He couldnt make a sentence just told me words, maybe these were the words that he could relate to as pollution to him. I told the old man that I would not interrupt their work, would just observe them and learn by seeing. He again said machine se choat lag jayegi and they will be concerned about my safety all the time I will be present there. To make them a little open and flexible towards me I explained them I had already worked with wood and metal in my earlier projects and there were similar machines in the wood and metal workshop present on campus. Teaching us to work on machines is a part of the course in which we learn the importance of hand labor (hath ka kaam). I had handled machines like these before and I will not get hurt. He asked me to move and sit at a distance further off than him. Maybe he was trying to keep me away from where they all were working. They all went back to their work and I started observing the surroundings. There were two fans one was a ceiling fan and the other a table fan kept on a small wooden drawer cupboard. The fans were old rickety and noisy. They would be switched off and on, on intervals. On the wall next to the table fan was a thick twirled wire mounted between two nails on which there were different sizes of the same tool hang. They looked like pliers and were commonly called as Sadsi between the four of them. Thick, thin, small, huge are some of the words that can describe all the shapes and sizes present there of the tools. On the wall was a pipeline probably for the electrical wiring. There was a gas cylinder kept right next to the fan which had blow torch nozzles with pipes attached to it. Just below the string of tools was the stationary drill machine used by one of them (the

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smiley one) to coil the silver wire. He was coiling them into spring like structures with concentration and patience. He was getting hurt at intervals by the wire which went haywire when it was coiling. He was trying to control it using a wooden board through which he was feeding the wire in the machine. I had seen the same thing being done at a smaller scale with a small hand drill in the Lifestyle Accessory Design Studio for Jewelry in college. There was also a small munimji table kept right next to the steel almirah which probably stored all the finished and unfinished products. The gadda was sandwiched between the table and the almirah on different ends, it was green in color. The table had a marble top had a digital weighing scale, a watch, spectacles, telephone, old nokia mobile phone and a brass tortoise kept in a brass plate filled with water and flowers. May be it was a representation of some god or goddess they pray. Speaking of gods the wall behind me had a small wooden shelf which had deity photographs. The largest frame was of Durga followed by smaller frames which had different other gods and goddesses. Also behind me were small wooden low seating stools (peedhis) with vices mount on them, I remember those so well because they are there in our campus as well and on seeing them I thought the basic machinery to make anything everywhere remains the same. The noise of the blow torch made it impossible to listen to any other sounds present there. I thought to myself that there was too much of noise or on second thought I was not attuned to the noises or the surroundings that I was finding it as noise. They all were shouting on top of their voices and speaking to each other in Gujrati. The torch was the main source of the noise and would be made to turn off just to make conversation with me. To start talking to the old man again I asked him Uncle apka nam kya hai, he replied to me saying Baldev M patel. I looked around towards the others as they were working and asked their names as well, they answered me saying Hiralal (the other old man with spectacles), Kamlesh Bhai (youngest one of the lot) and Mukesh Bhai (the older one who always smiled). I wanted to confirm with Baldev Bhai if he would allow me to come every day and spend time with them. If he said no as his final answer then I would have to leave to go out again to find a new group to study. I asked him again if he would allow me to come to their place. He started off saying something on kaam and I interrupted him to say that I could watch and learn. He further said jinka poora dimag hota hai wo dekh ke seekh jate hai, kuch log nai seekh pate. Making his statement he again got back to work with the noise reaching my nerves this time. All of them were at work and three of them were using all the available blow torches which were four in number. The youngest (kamlesh) was on the door using two blow torches to heat up the remaining coils the smiley one (mukesh) had just finished making. Mukesh was now sweeping the floor meticulously collecting the leftovers of the wire that were cut off and filled them in a plastic bottle. My first thought was that why is he collecting waste but then it struck me that even the waste was silver, that is why he was even collecting the dust on the floor. A new man stepped in he smiled at me, my first thought was that maybe he smiled looking at me as the only lady in an all men group or maybe he was a part of the group or saw me as a guest or relative. He was carrying a big bag which he emptied on the floor next to the small table which had the weighing scale. The bag had big heavy chains, Baldev bhai got up took out a small notebook from one of the drawers of the table and did hisab kitab with the man in his native tongue Gujrati. Mukesh Bhai was helping the man put the chains onto the weighing scale for Baldev bhai to see the weight and note it down in his note book. The man left leaving all the chains with them. Suddenly Mukesh Bhai jumps from one point to another like a monkey hands on the ground legs in the air. Baldev Bhai said aap hai na isi liye aisa karta hai. It clicked to me later; he meant to say that Mukesh was springing across the

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floor because I was there; it made sense because he had been looking down smiling all through this time. I asked them what did the man who came with the chains do, Hiralal told me that he scrapes the woven chains to finish them and give them shine. He showed one of the chains to explain me what he meant, I asked him what happens of the silver that he scrapes off. All of them started laughing on my question and Kamlesh said baki ka bhi to chandi hai, wo wapas ajata hai aur hum pighla lete hai. Baldev Bhai finished cutting strips came and sat on the machine kept besides me. Fixed a huge cutter (sadsi) and started cutting the coils that had been torched and cooled. I asked him what he was cutting the coils for. Mukesh jumped back from the coiling machine he was working at and explained to me taking out pieces from the metal bowl into which the pieces of the coil was falling into. He joined them manually like a chain and told me this you can do this is done by ladies, it is easy. I felt there was a huge distinction and divide present here in their minds to what work a man and a woman can do. It dealt with issue like getting hurt, strength and mindlessness. As I trying to make the chains myself, twisting the pieces, making them close using a plier. I didnt want to be perceived as a woman who will not fit in the place of hard labor. I think they all perceived me as a upper class woman who is there to study them, cannot do manual labor like them and will only waste their time. This was my only change that they had given me to prove myself is what I thought, it might just not be true but I took it that ways and tried my best to make the chain. Hiralal saw me working on the chain and told me I dont have to close the mouth of each piece as they will be finishing each of them through welding. I told him that I had never even thought that a simple payal takes so much of skill and hard work to make. Everyone was working including me making my chain. I concentrated on the sounds present there, cutter cutting the coils, falling silver pieces of the coil into the metal bowl, noisy old table fan, blow torch, coiling wire, drill machine, hammering sound, sound of metal pieces turned in a metal bowl while torching, sizzle of hot metal pieces put in water and scrubbing of chains with a metal haired brush were few of the sounds I could identify with. There were three other machines in the room and they will also make some kind of sounds as well but no one was using them at the time so I dont know. Suddenly Hiralal asked me parikshayen chal rai hai? I answered hamri likhne wali pariksha nai hoti, he continued madhyam kya hai? I told him report banate hai I tried explaining that in the report we have to explain what I had seen, learnt and made. Then he gave a smile tooth to tooth exclaiming that you have to make things to show your skills, which was maybe he found similar to his group. Baldev Bhai added saying you cant learn the trade in a few days and you will have come every day to learn, he explained that it takes time to develop the skill. I looked at the wall clock mounted on the wall top of the shelf which had the photos of deities. It was 6:40 pm and to catch my 7:00 pm bus I had to leave. I told them that I had to go now as I have to catch my bus from Paldi to Gandhinagar. I explained that the course I am studying is in Gandhinagar campus. There is a bus running at regular intervals between the two campuses of NID. I told them that I will come and meet them tomorrow. I asked them the way out to the main road as I didnt know how I reached this inner road, where their workshop was situated. I asked them the way towards Manek Chowk. I had already spoken to Tanuja that I will be meeting her there, near the stock exchange building. Baldev Bhai sprung up on his seat and said your taking the wrong way out it is in the opposite direction if you have to go to Paldi. I told him that my friend was waiting for me there so that we could go back together taking an auto. He was still trying to explain me

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that I was wrong in doing so and I should listen to what he was saying. He seemed a bit disappointed that I still wanted to go to Manek Chowk and that I was not listening to him. Baldev Bhai directed Hiralal to drop me till the main road leading to Manek Chowk. Hiralal did so I thanked him and asked everyones names again saying I should know everyones names, people who I will be working with. He said it is difficult to talk and listen when there is so much noise inside because of the machines. He repeated everyones name and said he is a karigar here was from the state of Rajasthan from the district of Baswada. I thanked him again and bid farewell saying that I will see him tomorrow again and moved on in the busy street.

Date: 26th March, 2011 Time: 3 pm to 6:30 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev Bhai (old man in supposed power, wearing spectacles), Hiralal (other old man man wearing spectacles), Mukesh Bhai (old chinki looking guy, always smiling), Kamlesh Bhai (youngest), another man (around 25 years old, scrapes payals for the group), Tanuja and me.

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On reaching Manek Chowk I oriented myself to the way I had returned back yesterday, so that I can find the route back to the silver workshop that I had visited yesterday. I took the same street back that I had crossed and Hiralal had dropped me till. I crossed the tiny lane in terms of its width and the amount of traffic it had. The street was blaring with noise of traffic and people alike. There were shops on both the sides of the street. I knew that the small lane that I was looking for was on the right side of the road. I moved along the road keeping close to the pavement but was confused about the turn. I remembered seeing a chai wala on the corner on the inner lane turning so I kept that as my reference. Saw a chai wala on the main road itself and there was a turn behind him but I had a hunch that this wasnt the turn. Totally confused I was moving down the lane, now I could see the end of the road with some kind of a temple where the road split. Didnt remember seeing a temple yesterday suddenly I saw a shop on the side entrance of a inner lane. There was an old man sitting there doing hand printing for a lady on a piece of cloth. I wanted to go closer and see how he was doing it with the wooden block in his hand. I turned into the lane and to my surprise found out the chai wala I was looking for. I smiled to myself, stopped for a few seconds at the chappa wala saw him working then carried down the lane to see if it was the right one. Crossed a Jain temple on the corner where two women were chatting away maybe passing time. I recognized the two cement benches in front of the house that I was looking for. I walked into the house with white door which had om and swastika made on it with red sindoor. I hadnt noticed the door too well yesterday but thinking that it was a silver workshop inside the symbols made sense through my experience. There was no one on the doorway today. At the first peep it looked empty. My first thoughts were they didnt even ask my name yesterday would they welcome me today. I took off my floaters and walked in. I greeted them and sat down on the floor cross legged like yesterday. Baldev Bhai was in his corner like yesterday near the gadda working on some chain. He was cutting it into smaller pieces. Kamlesh bhai was arranging them on a plate. Mukesh bhai was as usual coiling on the drill and Hiralal bhai was sitting near the blow torch maybe waiting for work. Today was the second day I was visiting them I dont think they were very sure of why I was visiting them and what were my true intentions. The main person Baldev Bhai was in my mind suspicious of me because I returned the next day. He didnt look too pleased to my return and had a long straight face without expression but the other three smiled and probably were happy to see me back. I wanted to sit in the middle empty space but he directed me to the green munimji gadda with the munim ji table saying aap yahan baithiye. I did as I was told because the scene looked intense; everyone was working with concentration without looking up. I thought maybe, trying to finish the order at hand. They were working at an incredible speed as they had finished making the chains for which they were cutting

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links yesterday. I was amazed to see the amount of work they had finished; making the links, joining them together to make chains, soldered them to finish and even scraped them for the highlights all in the span of hours from last evening to today afternoon. It was really hot and the noisy table fan was relief. As I was wondering about the fan it was ordered off by Baldev Bhai. It had been only minutes since I had arrived I felt as if he was trying to see how dedicated I was to staying with them. Will I sit through the heat in the small room with them without the fan? They were probably more use to the heat than I was. As they blow torched with ease without the fan in the heat of the day. I found it rude to switch off the fan like that but I decided to myself that I wont budge. After a while Baldev bhai said hamne socha nai tha aap wapas ayengi I replied back saying that I had told you that I will come back. I have to make a report in which I have to write about daily activities how you work, what you do, and the process you follow. He exclaimed saying aap har roz ayengi I told him kam kaise seekhungi. He asked me ye report ka kya hoga, kya karengi I told him that whatever I observe and learn I have to write as a document and submit as a report to this he said aap Income tax se to nai ho, jo itni jankari chahiye I thought to myself oh god! This is what he thinks of me I told him that I am just a student and wouldnt even think of doing such a thing aap aisa kyu soch rahe hai. He replied kaam aisa hai hamara, kya karein I told him that I will be coming everyday and he could trust me that it was just for a project for college purposes. I asked him if I looked suspicious and income tax kind to him. I made him notice that I didnt even carry a pen or paper to make any kinds of notes, I told him that I just had to make my observations by seeing them work and going and writing about what I saw in the night. hamara dhanda vishwas pe hi chalta hai, chandi ka kam hai na. I didnt know what to say so nodded my head and looked around. Everyone was working no one had stopped but everyone was listening. Maybe they had a discussion about me yesterday or something like that that is why the suspicion. He continued to say chandi ati hai jati hai sab vishwas pe hi chalta hai. I had guessed that Baldev bhai was the man in power amongst the group and I felt he was behaving as a BHAI or don amongst them. After talking to Baldev bhai who was cutting pieces out of a strip and talking at the same time. I thought it would be nice of me to try to help them with some of their work so that I can gain some trust. I thought the starting point would be to show keen interest in what they are doing and try and get them to give me some work. I thought for starters it would be nice to go and sit besides Hiralal who was blow torching I could observe what he is doing and would get a chance to talk to him. I sat there for a while watching him work. I got up and sat beside him he told me to sit away as I could get hurt, I told him he didnt have to worry about me as I have experience in iron welding. I told him I knew how welding works, he replied to me saying this was different from iron welding as it runs on gas. Sound of the blowtorch today wasnt bothering me too much and I was keenly looking at him work. After a while Baldev Bhai came toward me and said aapka naam kya hai I thought to myself about time they asked me my name and wondered if he had taken off some time and come to talk to me. I replied to him saying Simran the next thing he said was Simran bhen please shift he wanted to sit where I was sitting besides Hiralal. I felt weird but I got up and moved to the centre of the room and sat there. He adjusted himself nicely with a small table in front of him and started to blowtorch like Hiralal on the payals made ready by Kamlesh. Kamlesh asked me Simran ka matlab kya hota hai I told him bhagwan ko yad karna, bhajan mein hota hai na simran karo, he smiled and said sumiran karo hota hai. I nodded my head and said haan.

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I kept sitting there looking at them work continuously. Mukesh kept coiling the wire, one after another. He used a wooden board to hold the wire and the wire would pass through his hands and the wooden board making a peculiar sound, somewhat similar to when you rub a wooden piece. The drill too made some buzzing noise when the wire coiled onto the rod but the sound was only for a matter of a few seconds. Once in a while he would do ahh as he was continuously getting hurt by the wire which went haywire and uncontrollable at times it even struck him on his face. He didnt stop working even then and a few times would pick up tweezers kept beside me and pick his hands of some metal piece. I felt sorry for him the wires were thick, looked hurtful enough but then I thought to myself it was his assigned work he couldnt help it. As I was watching Mukesh rolling and getting hurt the Seth shouted through the noise of the blazing blow torches and asked me to do something. I couldnt understand maybe because my concentration was come where else. He switched off his torch and told me to weight some strips of silver that were kept besides me using the weighing scale kept on the munimji table. He told me the weight should be 38 grams plus or minus of 2grams. Kamlesh got up from his place and switched on the weighing scale whose switch was on the wall where the gadda was kept. The machine went beep beep beep and got on I got up and sat on the gadda ready to do the assigned work. Kamlesh gave me slabs on which I had to make bundles of the weighed silver strips which were used for welding. I was precise in calculating the weight always tried for a 38 on the scale. It was good of them to give me some work however small at least they trusted me with their silver. I would drop the thin silver strips into the metal container kept on top of the scale and they make the sound of thin metal pieces hitting each other. I like doing this as the sound was pleasing compared to the noise the blow torches were making. I finished my work made the piles. Kamlesh was intermediating between me and the welders passing them the bundles that they were using for welding the chains. Baldev bhai switched off his torch and asked Hiralal something in Gujrati. Hiralal also switched off his torch and picked up took two pieces of the cooled payals that he had worked on earlier and came towards me. He dropped them into the metal plate on the weighing scale I could hear the same sound that I had just liked with the payals too only a bit louder and shorter maybe because of the weight. Hiralal saw their weight and told Baldev zyada hai. He went back to his work on the torch. Baldev Bhai looked at me and said dimag lagta hai, sab ganit se chalta hai Kamlesh added ganit bahot zaroori hai is kam mein, upar neeche nai chalta baldev bhai said sab vazan se chalta hai. Kamlesh had finished making sets of payals to be welded by placing them on the slabs. He was now turning the metal strips by hand the ones that Baldev had been cutting earlier. I asked him if I do it as well he replied to me saying mazoori wala kam hai, mehnat wala kam hai ap nahi kar paogi. I told him he should give me a chance, as I wanted to try and if I couldnt do it I will let him do it. He showed me how to do it using both the hands using pliers by holding them in a certain way. It looked easy but when I tried it, it sure needed a lot of strength. After doing a few I got the hang of it and devised my own way to turn them. Kamlesh said dum lagta hai, choat nai laga lena I replied saying nai nai lagegi Baldev bhai had finished his work at the torch washed his face with the water from the bore well. The sound of the splashing water sounded soothing in the heat as still the fan was off. He sat down beside me where I was turning the metal pieces and started rolling the turned pieces into circles with a rod and a hammer. Hammering away he said dekh ke seekhna thik hai par kam karne se hi ata hai maybe he was saying it seeing me struggling with the strips I repeated his words karne se hi ayega kam.

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Kamlesh was now on the doorway heating up some pieces of metal in a metallic bowl. I couldnt understand why but it was a delight to look him. It looked as if he was playing with the pieces in the metal bowl. The action was like that of a bhelpuri wala who tosses the namkeen to evenly coat it with spices. He was doing a similar action using a holder to hold the metal bowl from one hand tossing the pieces and heating them using a torch which he held in his other hand. The sound was a mixture of the blow torch and the metal pieces jumping in the metal bowl. It seemed as if the pieces were dancing. I could relate to the payal that will make a similar sound when worn because of the ghungroos. It was as if a precursor sound of the payals itself as the pieces when put together will make the payal. Received a call in between, my phone sounded really distinct and mismatched to me according to the surroundings and the group of people as it has a Jazz ringtone. The call was from Tanuja as she was asking me if I had gotten free and we could catch the 5 oclock bus back as she had not found a group still for her work. I told her if she didt find anyone in another half an hour or so we could head back or if she wanted to take time we will catch the 7 oclock bus. Baldev bhai was looking at me with wide open eyes maybe because of my ringtone I thought. I told him it was my friend that I had mentioned yesterday who is visiting the same area to find a group to do a similar study. He told me he could introduce her to some other people in the same profession. I told him she doesnt want to take gold and silver people and clarified that she only wanted all women group for her project. He told me that he would ask around as he had heard of some women who paint the payals that they make. He said peela neela karte hai na wo, usmein dimag nai lagta Kamlesh added siraf rang hi lagta hai Baldev bhai continued asaam kam hai auratein karti hai. I started thinking of what they thought about women and the work they can do. Did they think that women had no or less brain and couldnt do the heavy work they were doing? If they thought that then I was intruding into their all men heavy metal, heavy mehnat world and I should try not to barge too much into their work. A man arrived like the one yesterday; I thought he would also be someone they outsource their work to. Kamlesh gathered all the freshly made payals and dropped them on the weighing scale Baldev bhai noted the weight in a small booklet that he had asked me to take out from the drawer of the munimji table. This man looked dressed according to the group people who wore torn and holed clothes. He was talking to the others in Gujrati and would smile at me whenever he looked towards me. Kamlesh emptied the weighing scale tray on the ground. The payals hit the floor and made the same peculiar sound of metal hitting metal. The man collected the payals and dropped then into a huge bag that he took out from the almirah kept besides the gadda. Seemed like a trusted man of the group or why would they allow anyone to touch the almirah like that. He took the payals away saying saying something in Gujarti what I could understand was match nai dekhna aaj. Kamlesh told me aaj South Africa khel rahi hai after a pause he said Mukesh bhai ki biwi Zimbabwe se hai. I was taken aback by the sudden mention of biwi and I said acha Hiralal added dikhne mein kali hai. They were both teasing Mukesh and he just kept blushing and smiling after a while said uska rang gadda hai, wo yahi ki rehne wali hai. I aked Mukesh if he is originally from Ahmedabad he replied saying yes and nodding his head and added biwi bhi yahin ki hai Everyone was working continuously and I had finished my metal pieces. I knew I had not done a satisfactory job as Baldev Bhai would make sounds uhun move his head rolling the pieces I had made into circles by hammering. I asked him I had done them wrong he told me that I will learn over time if I keep doing mehnat and he will correct them when he is rolling. The man who had taken the payals

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earlier returned with the finished ones the payals were weighed again, the weight noted in the note book. He asked me Gujrati nai ati I told him no and then he started his conversation in Hindi with the rest of them. He said match hai monday ko Mehsana mein India Australia ka, seth ko bolo chutti dede. Kamlesh replied to him saying hamara seth aisa nai hai I was thinking who were they reffering as Seth I thought they told me that they work on their own just four of them. I always had the impression they didnt have any one vyapari or Seth that they work for. Now I thought that maybe I had heard or understood wrong. The man continued aisa kro kal kam karlo aur Monday ko chutti lelo, sab chutti karenge, aur tum hi sab kam karoge Kamlesh replied to him saying hum to chutti mein bhi kam karte hai everyone was laughing on the conversation. The man said Seth se bolkar TV lagwalo yahi par, kam karte karte match dekho Baldev Bhai got up from his place and said yahan TV aur biwi not allowed and went to drink water from the mud matka kept at the entrance. The laughter continued and the man left. I was wondering who the Seth in the conversation was and was Baldev indirectly making a sarcastic comment on me being a lady in the all men group. Baldev and Hiralal went back to torching with the arrived payals now welding the locks (made out of the circles) on them. Kamlesh was placing the payals on the plates again with the circles just made and smearing them with a liquid chemical. On inquiring about the liquid and the plates he explained that the plates are made of mud to which Baldev said high centigrade leleti hai Kamlesh continued telling me that the liquid was like gum to silver as used for paper. I was feeling like a chai break and asked him when everyone has chai he told me chai time had passed. They have it after lunch on asking about lunch he told me around 12:30. So I kept quiet and forgot all my intentions of having a simmering cup of tea. He gave me the paintbrush through which he was applying the liquid which I probably thought had some chemical. He showed me how to place the payals and the locks and where to put the liquid. I took up the work and he went off to the doorway to heat some metal pieces as earlier making the chan chan sound of silver pieces in the rusted iron bowl. I continued doing the work assigned to me and passing the plates to Baldev and Hirala. Mukesh had finished coiling all the silver wire and taken a break, sitting on the floor crossed legged ideal. He hadnt been doing much talking so to start a conversation I inquired where does he stay in Ahmedabad Kamlesh replied Asia ke sabse bade hospital ke pas I told him I didnt know anything about it so he added airport ke pas I asked Mukesh how does he commute he replied to me saying BRTS. I asked Kamlesh the same question and he said he was also from Ahmedabad only. I knew Hiralal was from Baswada in Rajasthan so I asked him where he satayed in Ahmedabad and he replied yahin rehta hun. I asked Baldev and he replied sarkhej I said that was pretty far off how he manages to come every day so far. He told that he has a scooter and commutes by it. I asked him if he belonged to Ahmedabad he told me that his goan is in Rajkot in north of Gujrat. He came to Ahmedabad to work. Kamlesh strated off telling how Baldev and Hiralal were friends, started working together as silver karigars, learnt the work, Baldev bhai became the Seth and Hiralal remained as a karigar. Hiralal added mehnat se admi kahan se kahan pahonch jata hai Baldev must have felt awkward so he explained saying kismet bhi to hoti hai. Kamlesh directed the conversation towards me and said aap itni mehnat kar rahe ho to aapka project bhi acha banega I replied to him saying mehnat to kar rahe hai par fal ka pata nai he replied to me saying hum hai na mudad karne ke liye, sab kuch sikha denge. It was already 6:30 I had to leave to catch my bus I called tanuja and asked her to reach where we had met yesterday. I said bye to them thanking Hiralal and Baldev bhai for their help yesterday by telling me

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the way out to Manek Chowk. I stepped out of the door wore my floaters and hurried out to the street. Today was an important day as I had gained some access and discovered that Baldev bhai was the Seth and the other three were his workers.

Date: 29th March, 2011 Time: 4 pm to 6:45 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev bhai (Seth), Hiralal (Seths friend), Kamlesh bhai (youngest), Mukesh Bhai (chinki looking, silent one, nicknamed popat at the workshop), Rajesh Bhai Bhausar (takes up work from Seth for a womens Grahan Udyog run by him), Seths son, Tanuja and me
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I took a break of two days from my field work and got back today to resume my study. Sunday was already a holiday for the group I was studying and I took a break for myself on Monday. When I had last seen them on Saturday I had told them that I would see them next on Monday. I was a bit concerned of how they will take me for my absence and not keeping my word. I reached my usual turn saw Mukesh Bhai hurrying away out of the lane to the main road. As I was looking at him he noticed me and smiled I waved back at him smiling, he nodded his head. I thought to myself why is he always smiling and never talking. I moved towards the chai wala where I could always hear the sound of the kerosene stove and the tea boiling as if reaching the rim of the vessel. I wondered if my group got their tea from the same vendor. On crossing the Jain temple whose doors are always open there was never a sound of a chant or bells. I would always find some aunties sitting on the steps and chatting away. To me it seemed like the village well you see in old Hindi movies where women gather to gossip and pass time. On reaching the workshops door I could not hear the sound of torching. I took off my shoes and entered keeping my bag next to the strip cutter machine towards the wall of the room entrance. Moved my eyes around to see what everyone was doing and sat down on the floor as usual. As soon as I sat the Seth commented aaj aap late ho gaye 4 baj gaye. My instant reaction was that I looked at the wall clock right behind me I told them haan meri bus late ho gayi thi. In the same second the younger one added laughing Apne kal chutti marli. Hiralal smiled and said haemin to laga tha aap ayengi hi nai. I thought to myself why do these people have to do work and talk like a chain reaction one after the other. One says something the others follow. I clarified nai meri kal poora din class thi, subah aur sham. It felt to me as if they were a bit relaxed today, maybe they had finished the work at hand. Or they could have finished the order they had and were waiting for a new lot of jewellery to be ordered. It felt like a good moment to mellow down some conversation with a cup of tea. I asked everyone for Chai and they agreed. I asked who all will have tea so that I could get it from the outside tea stall that I cross every day. Baldev bhai asked me not to go and told me you should not go. He sent Mukesh who had just got back from outside to get tea for all of us. I thought I would get lucky if I could melt things up with a bit of tea and sweet talk. As I was waiting for tea to arrive Seth got up from his place he was again cutting metal pieces by hand and picked up a nice looking shiny magenta metal thermos bottle kept next to my bag. He asked me if I would like to drink, first I thought it was cold water. On inquiring he told me it was chiku juice. I thought to myself chiku juice? Does anything like that exist? The seth took out a steel glass poured in some and offered it to me. Not to be rude I took the glass, the juice turned out to be chiku shake instead. He was waiting for me to drink it, had fully opened glaring eyes. He was standing beside where I was sitting on the floor it looked as if he was looking down on me. I didnt know what to do still deciding should I drink it or not I gulped a big sip down my throat. I looked

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up to the Seth he smiled and I smiled back. I didnt want to drink the chiko shake anymore so I told him bahot meetha hai and passed on the glass to Mukesh who was just back with the tea. He held the glass in his hand for a while I asked him why wasnt he drinking it the Seth added pile Mukesh pile kya soch raha hai, Mukesh gulped it down all in one go. I told the Seth that I preferred tea more than chiku juice. Tea was served in saucers. It had arrived in a big aluminium cup, I could associate it the cups that the Army Jawans or the mountain climbers use. The tea was divided into two saucers and the leftover in the cup. The saucers were white and had flowers made on it in one corner they looked of really cheap quality. I asked everyone to take their pick of whatever they wanted it would have been really rude of me if I picked up anything first. The Seth refused to have tea and so did Mukesh. So the saucers were shared between Kamlesh and me. Kamlesh was making slurping sound while having the tea from the saucer. I did too I thought no one could escape the slurping sound when drinking from a saucer. The cup was taken by Hiralal and finished instantly. The tea wasnt hot at all and got over in seconds. As soon as we finished tea a man arrived to the workshop. I thought he would be one of the lot that comes and goes daily picking up or dropping some work off. He was a man in his late 50s, looked peculiarly well dressed, wore a white cap, tucked in shirt belt and trousers. He spoke in Hindi, I thought to myself he wasnt from the worker community. Hiralal said that he should have arrived a minute or two early, as we had just finished tea. Hiralal reminded me that he had told me about the chains being made by women. I said I remembered he then told me that this was the man who takes the links from them and gives it to a community of women to make them into a chain. I started taking to the man who had just arrived he could speak fluent Hindi and English. I asked him his name he said Rajesh Bhai Bhausar and told me that he belonged to the Bhausar community which I didnt know anything about. He told me that he takes work from the Seth and gives it to a Graham Udyog which has 80 women working for him. He wanted to know why I was there and what I wanted to do. I started talking to him in English as I felt more comfortable talking to him rather than Hindi which I had been doing since I had got to the workshop. I explained him that I was a student at NID and was doing a research. He knew about NID, I thought to myself, half of my problem was solved. I told him I had to choose a group on a site I had already chosen which was Manek Chowk and study them to understand their life and work better so that I could design for them some product or something. I told him my project was a little vague and more clarity will be there when I articulate my research and its findings. To divert the topic from me to him I asked him if I could come and see the women working on the chains. He told me that I would have to come in the night around 8:00pm that is when all the women come and take work. He told me that he had 80 women working for him. He said they all come in the night when they had finished their house work and food. All through the conversation i was talking to him in English while everyone else worked on their bit. Today luckily there were no major sounds that were disturbing to the ear no torches or hammering everything was mellow. I could hear the ringing of chains and silver pieces on the floor. As I was having a nice chat with Rajesh Bhai Hiralal the Seth started working with the metal cutter. He was cutting small ornamental pieces through the machine from thin strips of silver. I asked Rajesh bhai what he did before his Graham Udyog business, he told me that the Graham Udyog was his side business and he was really an accountant. Hiralal had just switched on the radio which was not playing the FM but the AIR. This was the first time since I have been visiting that the radio was switched on. I didnt even know if there was a radio in the workshop. I would always hear Kamlesh and Hiralal humming while working but the radio was a new find. Maybe they play it at times when there is less noise and work in the workshop.

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He asked me a few more questions about NID. I wasnt worried about his questions maybe I had already thought that he would understand and I wont be in a condition with loss of words. There were some old songs playing in the background. I compared myself in the times when I actually feared to tell my workshop group what actually I was studying. The fear was because I thought that I wouldnt be able to make them understand or use words in Hindi as smoothly and fluently as I was doing right now in English. Translating words would have been very difficult for me as I am really bad at remembering words. As soon as Rajesh bhai left all my fears came true I was asked similar questions from my group. Maybe they got extra curious of me and what I study after seeing me chitter chatter in English who was a complete stranger to me a few minutes ago. The Seth as usual started the topic aapka kya course hai, kya padate hai. I repeated the explanation I had just given to Rajesh Bhai in English translated in Hindi. I took time with long pauses, English and loss of words. I told them I was studying design, my course was related to computers and the requirement right now was to conduct a research on a group and their work through which I will make a product for them. Kamlesh exclaimed in joy hamare liye I replied to him saying yes. I told them that I have to understand how they work, their daily routine their needs etc.. They seemed a bit lost and i thought giving them examples will work better. I told them that our batch of 13 people had gone to Agra, Taj ganj the place surrounding the Taj where no development or construction could happen. We went and asked the people what they want a few said their lively hood depended on the Taj, few said breaking the Taj would be the real help, some wanted to relocate and some not. I explained how the findings through research can bind such different points of view into a report which will have a general outcome. I also gave them the example of Nokia and our senior batch doing a research on why a model of Nokia failed in the market. Kamlesh said haan wo to fail hojata hai, log lete nai hai na. Now there was news on the radio, I could immediately remember my Grandfather at home who listens to the radio news three times a day like a ritual. Hindi news playing at the back I dont know if anyone was even listening to it. I explained further saying if the makers of Nokia phones didnt understand what the people who use them wanted or wouldnt consider the money they could spend on the phone, the phone was bound to fail in the market. The Seth added haan jaise hum Jadda (motta) patla payal banate hai, taki sab kharid sakein I didnt know what to say more I nodded my head. They had finally made some sense of my work and all happily went back to their respective works. The room fell back to the sounds of the Hindi news, the clinkering chains and the dropping of metal pieces. After a while as i was helping Kamlesh in straightening the chains the Seth asked aapki college ki fees kitni hai, i genuinely told him the fees for the whole year including stay and food was around a lac per year. He immediately replied to me saying kafi zyada hai, private hai? I told him nahi sarkari hai he repeated bahot zyada hai. I told him loan liya hai, education loan. The Seth changed the topic asking about Tanuja and her group that she wanted for her research. I told them that she had found a community that makes the doris used behind necklaces, but they were rude to her today and they asked her to go for a walk and come back after some time. Kamlesh as he is with his instantaneous one liners added ye to Agra jaisi bat hogayi. He had made some connection in his mind between the incident I was telling them and the things I had just told them about Agra. As I was about to leave the Seth told me that I was the first lady that had entered this workplace. He said aapne himat kari, nahi to sab dar jate hai, sabki neeyat ek jaisi nai hoti, sab alag hote hai sab burre nai hote aapne hum pe vishwas kiya he continued further saying sab ek se nai hote i was

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wondering why was he saying this again sab ek se nai hote what did he mean to say. Did he mean that I trusted them as good men as I was the only lady around maybe or did he mean it the other way round, that he trusts me now? I was not so sure but I added to his statement by saying aapne bhi to mujhpe vishwas kiya, seekhne diya kam, wo bhi badi bat hai. Everyone was working simultaneously with the radio playing at the back, now it had some farming program playing with some Hindi question and answer round. Kamlesh added mujhe bhi poora kam nai atta, mein bhi seekh raha hun, Mukesh bhai to seth se bhi bade hai, unko tak ani ata. Seth said dimag chahiye kam seekh ne ke liye Hiralal added dimag kam chalta hai Seth ended it by saying hum sub popat bulate hai ise. Between the conversations a man walked into the room. He was wearing jeans, t-shirt and spectacles before i could think more I was introduced to him by the Seth as his son who was studying engineering in Gujrat College. I said Namaste and asked him which stream of engineering was he studying he replied Mechanical. I told him that my brother was also doing Mechanical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh. It was time for me to leave, I reached for my red back bag on the floor but it was hanging on the wall where normally the Seths tiffin box is. Mukesh said meine rakha. I smiled and said thank you, bid farewell to all of them and left for home telling them I will be returning tomorrow. Today was a session of inquiry about me maybe they were getting sure of me and my intentions.

Date: 30th March, 2011 Time: 3:30 pm to 7 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev bhai (Seth), Hiralal (Seths friend), Kamlesh bhai (youngest), Mukesh Bhai (the silent one, nicknamed popat at the workshop), Tanuja and me
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Tanuja and I share the same location for our field study and we had missed our 2oclock bus from our Gandhinagar campus to the Paldi campus. We took public transport and reached Teen Darwaza. Today was the day of the India Pakistan match. As we walked past Teen Darwaza the scenario and the atmosphere was totally different to what we normally see on that road. The roads were empty in the sense of being deserted for a place where at this time of the day you dont get space to even walk. The traffic of pedestrians and automobiles on the not so wide road filled with roadside shops and hawkers, is overwhelming. It seemed as if we had reached the wrong address. There were only three four shops open. I am not sure if they were ready to entertain customers. They all looked glued to their television sets kept in their shops. We crossed our usual landmarks and lanes ready to proceed to our respective sites for study. We took our own paths at the common intersection, deciding to call each other when we get free. Walking past the main empty road leading towards the smaller inner lane to my group I thought to myself that today may just be the day when I get insights about some serious issues like caste and religion. As being a day of India Pakistan match emotions will be high and topics like these are bound to be discussed. As usual I reached kept my red bag in the corner of the room on the floor right next to the strip metal cutter. I sat down on the floor crossed legged orienting myself so that I could see what everyone was doing. As asked yesterday Mukesh asked me again pani piyoge, thanda pani hai. He sees me carrying water with me in my backpack and then also keeps on asking me if I wanted water. I declined saying nahi thank you. It was very hospitable of him maybe he thinks that I had just come from the scorching sun but I was concerned about the quality of water and the hygiene. They store water in a mud Matka which has a metal plate kept as a cover on top and a single steel glass to drink from. I was also not sure of from where they fill their water from. Was it the normal Municipality tap water or was from the bore well which they keep on using for their daily work which has involvement of a lot of chemicals like sulphur. They were all working as usual with their heads down and concentration on things they were doing. I was sitting silently and observing waiting for an opportunity to ask a few questions for today. Baldev Bhai and Hiralal were on the blow torch finishing the payals, welding the locking system onto the finished ornaments. Mukesh Bhai was making the chains ready for welding by placing the three pieces onto the mud slabs, adjusting them so that they could be welded in place with the other cut out pieces and finished into payals. He smeared the placed to be welded with chemical needed for welding silver. I wanted to be a part of their work and was waiting for someone to get a little free so that I could ask for work. I thought maybe if I do some part of their work, the work will finish faster and it will give them time to talk to me. Also I would get to see and learn part of the process. He saw me keenly looking at him working and asked me if I would like to do it. I said yes and helped him with the procedure, meticulously

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placing one chain after another with a guide which was made from a cheap aluminium wire bent into a U. It had markings on it made with a permanent marker as guidelines. He showed me once and I learnt the trick. He kept on seeing how I was doing it and checked. I made a few small mistakes of forgetting to brush on the liquid chemical. On which Baldev Bhai said something to Mukesh Bhai and not me. It sounded something like he should see before he gives the plate to him. I too felt accountable as I was also working on the chains and it could have been anyones plate that Baldev Bhai was working on why was he only telling Mukesh Bhai. Maybe he thought I was an amateur and Mukesh Bhai was responsible for me when I was working with him. Kamlesh Bhai was sitting in the extreme end of the room, he was cutting the edges of the welded payals and then sanding the the edges to make them smooth after the cutting. All of us were working continuously without a word and the worked seemed to flow without interruptions or even a word. If someone would finish what he was doing he would know what to do next. I was looking out for some kind of sign language or key words that might be directing the continuous work. But there was no ishara or key word that was given to anyone, everyone of them knew what they had to do next. The only time anyone spoke was when it was really necessary like if something went or about to go wrong or something was done wrongly or if someone needed something when they were in the middle of welding. We all finished working with the chains they got completed to a level where we could call them payals, pieces of jewellery. The welders (always Baldev Bhai and Hiralal) ran out of silver pieces that would be on top of the locking mechanism. Baldev Bhai asked Kamlesh something in Gujrati. That is when I realized that he needed something. Kamlesh was going to use the metal cutter machine to cut out pieces from strips of silver. I asked him if I could do it, I had been watching him work on it for a few days now it seemed simple and easy. Suddenly the noise of the blow torch stopped Hiralal and Baldev stopped working. Baldev told me that it is difficult to operate this machine it needs a lot of strength. Kamlesh added by saying mushkil hoga, aapko choat lagjayegi. I persisted telling them that if I find it too difficult I will let it be. Baldev Bhai said that if I hurt myself he will be the one responsible as I was working under him. Kamlesh fixed the KHANCHA in the machine which is the cast / dye of the piece that you want to cut. Fixing the KHANCHA he showed me how the machine operates, instructed me and got up. I sat down oriented myself to the machine and the huge heavy handle on top of me. I wanted to give it a go before I decided that it was impossible for me to work with it as thought by the other four in the room. Getting the hang of it was difficult in the beginning as the metal strip had to be cut exactly at equal intervals. Baldev Bhai was sitting right next me, he had stopped working and was looking at me work with the machine. He kept on instructing, I asked him if it was ok with him if I didnt do a good job because I felt concerned it was his work that I was doing and it was silver. It meant serious work to him. He replied saying that I should learn and I will get a hang of it. I showed him my first cut out strip he told me where I had gone wrong. I continued further now more confident after his approval and as I had got the hang of the machine better. After finishing he inspected the cut outs and told me that I had done a good job better than Mukesh Bhai. He said iska to dimag kam chalta hai, ye to bhagta rehta hai machine se, aap to bahot mehnat karte ho. I thought that was very judgemental of Mukesh and his work as there was an incident a few hours ago too where he had said something similar to him. If he was paying me would he still think that I was doing a lot of mehnat. Nevertheless everyone looked satisfied with the work I had done, after the prior explanations they were giving me of the machine being too tough to handle and I getting hurt. Baldev bhai said chandi ke kam mein ganit lagta hai, sab log nai kar sakte dimag wale log hi kar sakte hai. Kamlesh added saying Mukesh and

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him were not full Karigars till now and were still learning the trade. The dimag explanation had landed again into the conversation as it was also mentioned yesterday. What did Kamlesh mean when he said they were not full Karigars was it that they couldnt do or they didnt know how to do the work? Was it something to do with the kind of work (superior or junior). Then Baldev Bhai said something that made me and the others burst out in laughter, he said Aapne jo kaam kiya wo to koi aurat nai karti, meri gharwali nai karti, Usko bolta to kehti mein na karti jo karlo aur do thapad bajati. I took it as an immediate opportunity to ask about his home and family which I had been looking for past so many days. It was always so focused on work and I felt that I would get intimidating if I ask directly. I asked Baldev Bhai aapke ghar mein kaun kaun hai, he told me has two kids, two boys he mentioned and said bada wala MBA kar raha hai. On asking him where he said Canada mein. I was shocked and amazed; first of all he was making a nice amount of money from the business. Second he must be spending a lot on his kid in Canada so why was he commenting on me paying a lot of money as my college fees at NID yesterday when I told him the amount. I smiled to myself thinking how contradicting he is in his words and actions. I asked about the second son, he told me he was in college doing engineering. On asking him which college he told me Gujrat University. He asked me if I had seen the university area I replied saying yes I had been there but dint know about the engineering college, where it was. I knew that his house was on the Sarkhej Highway as he had told me yesterday I asked him aapka ghar to kafi door padta hai. He replied saying gharke paas se I inquired Sarkhej se door nai hai. He explained that it is nearer to his home and the university area comes in the middle of Ahmedabad, if you take a particular road. I didnt know of this I always thought that SG highway was an extreme new end of Ahmedabad with new housing cut off from the main Ahmedabad. He explained it by saying beech ka rasta. To continue the conversation and ask others about their home I repeated aapke do ladke hai and then I looked at Mukesh Bhai who never talks much but just smiles. It was answered by Kamlesh who is always keen to answer. He told me Mukesh Bhai is the oldest among them and had five kids out of which four were girls and one guy, one girl died. Hiralal interrupted him and said char bache hai teen ladkiyaan ek ladka, Mukesh was not answering himself Hiralal and Kamlesh was doing the job. I thought why Hiralal interrupted Kamlesh so suddenly when he was talking is it a sensitive issue to talk about. I couldnt understand maybe I need more information to make any kind of understanding. I didnt want o ask any more questions about Mukesh and his kids maybe it was a touchy issue. I immediately I asked the youngest Kamlesh if he was married, he replied saying yes he had been married for three years but doesnt have any kids. I wanted to ask why but that would have been stupid of me so I didnt open my mouth. I looked at Hiralal and he spoke himself that he has 3 kids, out of which two were girls and one guy. On asking him what they do he said the boy is the middle child who is in 3rd standard, eldest is in 9th and the youngest girl was too small to go to school. He looked as old as Baldev who had kids studying in college, how come he has such small kids. I was also told that both of them were friend and had worked together before they became worker and the Seth so I always thought that they were the same age. After a bit everyone looked a little free. Hiralal was humming away while welding, Baldev had taken a break. Mukesh asked me again pani piyoge. Yesterday my reply was not conscious because I wasnt thirsty, today morning was a conscious reply. But the realization I had made was triggering my thoughts. I should not pose as a person having inhibitions toward any kind of caste or people and

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maybe that is why he was asking me water again and again. I thought it was high time I should leave away all my health issues and hygiene inhibitions behind and drink the water. As I was lost in my thoughts he said Seth ka pani hai, thanda. The words struck me I gave him a questioning look. He pointed out to a plastic decanter kept in the corner of the strip cutter machine where my bag was kept and repeated again Seth ka pani. It was as if I had never seen the decanter laying there I always perceived the Matka to be the source of drinking water. I told him mujhe laga Matke mein peene wala pani hai he replied to my question saying Matka to hai par Seth ka pani thanda hota hai. He handed me a steel glass filled to the brim, without even asking me for water but then I thought he has already asked me too many times. I drank the water; it wasnt hard water or cold as I had expected it to be it was sweet with normal temperature. Now the agenda was to see the water differentiation between the Seth ka pani and the Matke ka pani and to see who drinks from what. Everyone was looking a bit free, work and the blow torching noise had stopped. Today Baldev bhai asked me if I will have chai, yesterday I was the one to ask them. It wasnt their tea break and they were taking a break so I took the opportunity to talk to all of them with open arms and said yes to the tea. As usual Mukesh went to the tea stall to get tea and was back within a few minutes. The conversation had already started I told them I had missed my campus bus today and reached teen darwaza directly and walked till their place. On the way all the shops were closed and the streets were empty teen darwaza didnt look like teen darwaza at all. Hiralal added aaj match hai na. Kamlesh said wahan mat jaya karo wo red alert area hai, wahan commi dunge hote hai he continued to say wahan sirf Mohomdan rehte hai, teen darwaza unka ilaka hai, Manek chowk ke bad sirf Hindu rehte hai I had been to teen darwaza a lot of times and thought it was completely normal and there was no distinction of Hindus and Muslims there but I didnt know his part of experiences to make such a comment. Baldev asked me aapke wahan nahi hota, commi dunga. I was a little taken a back didnt know what to answer I was about to ask more questions on how they feel about it but now the questions were directed towards me. I answered saying that there hasnt been an incident in my lived history. He again asked wahan mohomdan hai, I answered sikh aur punjabi zyada hai I didnt know what was true for Chandigarhs population of Muslims but I told them what I thought to be true. They only instance I could think similar to the commi dunge which I could relate to was Partition as told in the stories of my Grandfather. I told him the same that maybe partition was the time when such things happened in the place where I belong to. Baldev bhai immediately added to the conversation Sikh riots, and then I remembered the sikh riots that had happened because of Indira Gandhis assassination. As I was connecting the dots he told me that there were riots in the northern states due to Sikhs and their want of a separate state. I remembered the Khalistan issue and told him about it. I put the issue to rest saying that all this happened years before I was born and I only hear stories about it from my family. I told him that my Grandfather tells me stories about the partition with tears in his eyes. All of them listened keenly without a word drinking their tea. Everyone made the slurping noise through the saucer. I thought maybe they were all wanting to know my interpretation of commi dunge or the Hindu Muslim divide from the place I originally come from. The break was over everyone got back to work. I asked all of them if they liked cricket. Kamlesh said aaj cricket match hai na, aapke yahan hi to hai Mohali mein. Baldev Bhai asked me how far was Mohali from my house and I replied to him by saying it isnt far must be around 20 kilometres. He wanted to know if any of my family members had gone to see the match and I replied to him saying, no

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the ticket was too high but my brother wanted to go. I asked him if he like seeing cricket and he said dekhlete hai kabhi kabhi. To continue I asked him will he be going early today to see the match? They were the only ones working in the vicinity and Baldev BHai seemed to be making all the decisions around here him being the Seth I targeted him with my questions. He said kaam to karna padega I tried convincing him to close shop early on the grounds of the important India Pakistan match but he didnt seem to budge. Seeming kaam was more important to him they all continued to work and would be working till ten in the night. Hiralal and Kamlesh looked interested in the match and cricket conversation. Kamlesh would go out to the place next door to catch a glimpse of the match and see the score. Whenever he would come inside Bladev Bhai would ask him the score. This ment that he was also in interested in knowing how the match was going I asked him aap to bar bar score pooch rahe hai he replied india to harega hi hamesha harjata hai. Hiralal said aisa kyu bol rahe ho. Everyone was busy in their work again and I was sitting empty. Earlier last week I had got some wire and tools to make jewellery myself, I thought why not use those and try and learn how to make coils myself. I took out the wires and showed it to Baldev Bai explaining him that I would want to coil them myself. Everyone stopped working and came to me to see what all I had got. They started commenting on the wires that they were too thin and wouldnt make nice coils. Baldev Bhai said bahot dimag wale ho aap, aapne aisa kaise socha Kamlesh said bahoot soch hai. I replied to them saying that I had got these things even before I met them. I had seen the same thing being done at a smaller scale with a small electronic hand drill in the Lifestyle Accessory Design Studio for Jewelry in college. The things were examined; the wires gauge was measured to that of the coiling wires that I had got. He explained me the concept and I asked him again as I couldnt understand he said ganit lagta hai, dimag lagta hai samajhne mein. He told me aap ye sab kyu laye, isko lane ki kya zaroorat thi, hamare saath kam karto rahe ho I was thinking what to say I didnt want to waste their material as it was silver and it meant work for them. After the measuring, criticism and debate between Hiralal and Baldev they decided to let me coil. Baldev asked me ye kahan se mila, i told him the exact location of the shop which was not very far off. Hiralal said Kyu kharida. I replied saying that I wanted to learn myself and didnt want to disturb them. Kamlesh handed me a hand driller which he fixed on the vice. I asked him how I will roll the machine because the one they used was electrically motorized. Baldev Bhai said aap isi pe karo aapko choat lag jayegi bijli wale se. Kamlesh showed me how to make it work. Baldev Bhai came rushing to see how I was working and sat down to show me how to do it again. As I made my first coil he showed me how to cut it and piece it together to make it into a chain. He was getting troubled I could see and finally he said ye bahot chota hai dikhta nahi hai is umar mein, jadha (motta) wire chahiye I told him ill do it. He said aap mera time kharab kar rahe ho I felt bad that I was eating up on his time with my own stuff. I didnt want him to feel any kind of insecurity from me, with me doing my own work, so I asked him to get back to work telling him that I will manage. He got back to his welding and started coiling with a few instructions here and there by Hiralal and Kamlesh. I was hoping that Mukesh would teach me how to coil as he is the one who does the job everyday so well and I would get to talk to him as he is always silent. I finished off the wire that I had showed the samples I made to Baldev Bhai. I told him I will take time to get the hang of it. It seems easy when Mukesh Bhai does it every day with such patience and perfection. Baldev bahi closed my comment towards Mukesh by saying popat, thik nai karge to mein usko marunga nai, bajaunga sir pe everyone started laughing. I said bye for the day packed my stuff and left still thinking why all of them make Mukesh feel like a

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dimwit, they have even given him a name popat, comment on him again and again but still he smiles, remains silent all the time doing his work meticulously.

Date: 1st April, 2011 Time: 11:00 pm to 7 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev bhai (Seth), Hiralal bhai, Kamlesh bhai, Mukesh Bhai, Surya Behen (seths wife), Tanuja and me

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I again took a break yesterday and was back again on the field today. I was still repenting on not being able to visit the group yesterday as they were going to make a different kind of jewellery and I was very keen on seeing and learning, how it was made. I had taken a lot of interest in this particular production as I had seen a sample piece and I had liked it out of the lot that they had made till now. It was something that I would want to own myself. I knew that they would have finished working on the ordered lot and I would get to see only the finished product. I reached the place the sound of the blow torch was blaring away at a high decibel. I could hear it even before I entered the doorway. I thought it would be the same I would enter keep my back pack and sit on the floor waiting to join their work and conversations. Today was a day of surprise as to my astonishment a lady was sitting on the green gadda kept in the corner of the workshop, right next to the steel almirah. My first thoughts were who she is and what is she doing here. I smiled to everyone including her. Dusky complexion wore a suit looked as old as my mom maybe in her late 40s. She wore magenta - beige colour salwar kameez. She had big eyes and a bindi on her forehead. I could see some traces of fading lipstick. She wasnt wearing a chunni her chunni was lying in a corner on the gadda. She was very comfortably sitting on the gadda with stretched out legs, one leg on top of another. She also looked surprised to see me as she gave a questioning look with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. I sat down in my everyday position in the corner next to the gadda on the floor cross legged. As I was quietly observing her Baldev bhai introduced her to me as his wife. I expressed my regards with a smile and a bow of my head. I was still thinking what was she doing here, does she visit him often or she is here to do some shopping? It was teen darwaza of course hub of shopping for a shopaholic. I think I was referring to myself unconsciously at that time because I love to shop. Making my assumptions in my brain, I thought I should ask her some questions. I asked her aap yahan ate rehte ho, she replied to me in Gujrati to which I said mujhe Gujrati nai ati hai. She nodded her head but had a blank look on her face. I jokingly said uncle ne to kaha tha biwi aur tv not allowed she didnt give me any response, I realised later i shouldnt have said this in the group. But now I could understand why did she have a completely blank look on her face maybe she didnt understand Hindi too well. I asked her aapka nam, she replied Surya, it took me a while to understand what she was saying as I would never have thought of Surya as a ladies name. She spoke to me in Gujrati and I was trying to catch phrases that I could understand, which sounded similar to my understanding of Hindi words. Seth interrupted and explained her something in Gujrati from which I could understand Simran Bhen che, project mate ayi che .... something something the rest sounded just plain Gujrati.

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I asked the Seth about the payals that he was welding right now. He said class to nikal gayi, aoge nai to seekhoge kaise, I gave him an explanation of my class being there yesterday. Hiralal said that they were working on the payals yesterday, they are totally made by hand which I should have been present to see. The Gujrati song ringtone on Kamleshes phone rang and he went out of the workshop to talk. Seth and Hiralal were on the torches welding as usual. Kamlesh came and sat beside me right nest to Surya Bhen. He started working on the metal brick rolling the metal strips into circles for the locks of the payals. She started to talk with him in Gujrati. They both started to laugh; he was still working while talking to her. I asked him if I could help him in his work. He was more than happy to hand me a hammer and a rolling rod to work with. Gossip galore in Gujrati, happening right next to me with all the sound of different machines filling the room; I couldnt understand a word of it. Surya Behen wanted to a part of the work suddenly; she had be silently sitting and watching the others work till now. Maybe it was an effect to see me work with the group. She tried her hand at what I was doing, rolling the metals strips. She failed miserably and thought she should do something else. At a short distance Mukesh was smearing the chains with the chemical liquid with a brush, to make them ready for welding. Surya Behen ordered him in a demanding tone to maybe move away or do something else. As a second later Mukesh got up, moved and she took his place with the brush. Seth exclaimed in Hindi laughing lady staff badh gaya hai aaj. Kamlesh and I finished rolling the pieces. Seth directed him to the metal cutter; he adjusted and made ready the machine with the appropriate KHANCHA. I asked him if I could do it. As i had worked on the machine a day earlier the Seth was ok with me cutting the pieces. Kamlesh started cutting the silver strips thinner so that it could fit in the machine for me to cut out the pieces. As I sat on the cutter the Seth was sitting right next to me welding. He asked me if I would be interested in seeing another jewellery workshop which makes necklaces. I took it as an opportunity to learn more and said yes. I perceived that it was one of his close knit people who work with him in his daily routine. People who keep on coming and going; to his workshop with bags of finished and unfinished silver ornaments. He told me there was a wedding in his house and I would have to go with Surya behen to the proposed workshop and she would show me around. She had been getting a lot of calls till now, talking in Gujrati. She would use the landline to make calls again and again. The landline started to go tring tring after every 2 minutes.I thought she must have been expecting someone or something. After another such call it was time to go. I didnt finish what I was doing but had to go with her. Her last words to me at the workshop were madam chalo. I hurried my steps with her, she wore bathroom slippers in her feet, that is what I could notice walking with her. On the way we met up with 6 other women who joined us. I knew we were going shopping, what else would 8 women in the middle of the afternoon in such heat. Surya Behen directed everyone through streets to a small shop which made imitation jewellery. I was introduced to the owner of the place in Gujrati by her and left in the outer room to see how the workers were working and all of them went inside to a smaller room to shop. I did some time pass looking around asking questions. Called up Tanuja, asked her if she would like to see the place. Tanuja wanted to see the place so I went out to get her. On my way back I bought 2 500ml bottle of colddrinks. One was for us and the other for the Seths wife and relatives. I was getting bored with the shopping and serving as a tag along or a body guard to the Seths wife but I had to make a good impression on her. We got back I gave the colddrink to Surya Behen and company, sat around tried talking to them and then left with Tanuja for lunch, telling her that I was heading back as they would be taking time to shop.

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Tanuja and me had a leisure lunch and then pushed back to our respective sites. I reached back to the workshop thinking the time outside with the Seths wife was a total waste of time. The workshop at the time was silent and empty I had never seen the place so dead and void of sounds. Seth was the only one present there I asked him where everyone was and as he was explaining that they had gone to get work back from someone, they all appeared back with bags. They had got semifinished payals back probably from the scraper. The work flow started again. The payals that they had finished yesterday, I wanted to ask the price of a pair. I wanted a pair for myself and asked the Seth how much would it cost. He told me it would be costly and I asked him how costly. He dropped a pair on the weighing scale tray and took a weight. The weighing scale went beep beep beep and he did some clicking on the calculator and announced a price of 7000 rupees for the pair. I was shocked I never though silever was so expensive. I said bahot zyada hai Kamlesh added Itni to hamari mahine ki amdani hai Seth said Chandi itni mehengi hai, karigari mein kuch bachta, sab bahar ke kam karwane mein nikal jata hai. Kamlesh collected all the payals and dropped them in a machine which I hadnt noticed before. It made sound as if it was filled with water with the metal pieces. Kamlesh said fair and lovely laga rahe hai, washing machine. That was the weirdest explanation I had heard of a machine that polishes metal. After a while Seth got a call on his phone which has a Ganesh Bhajan as his ringtone. He sprung up from his place and pulled a trouser from the clothes hanger and ran out of the room. The shopping party had returned back. The Seth had changed his torn pyjamas into a black trouser and a shirt. They ladies were made to sit on the available stools in the workshop and offered tea. The girl who was getting inquired about me from the Seth in Gujrati and he said something that I am doing a project. She said something which I took out a meaning that projects now days are done on computers or something like that. I played dumb kept on smiling and working without saying a word. All the ladies left leaving behind Suraya Behen. Seth and she were having a discussion and she was showing him her shopping. As I was hammering away Kamlesh said in a muted voice Aap meri behen jaise ho and I should work more carefully as he wont like it if I got hurt. I told him not worry, I will be taking care. He told me he has 3 sisters all married in different parts of Gujrat. 1 was in Gandhinagar jahan aap rehte ho another was in Mehsana. He told that his family were once landowner zamindars. The conversation was interrupted by Surya Behen leaving and saying bye to everyone. After a span of minutes my jazz ringtone played and I knew it was time to go. I bid farewell to all of them, the Seth said I should have gone with Surya Behen on the auto till outside, I told him it doesnt matter I will walk. Left thinking that it would have been nicer and fruitful if Surya Behen knew how to speak Hindi, I could have gotten a lot of information about family and homes.

Date: 2nd April, 2011 Time: 11:00 pm to 3:30 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev bhai (Seth), Hiralal, Kamlesh bhai, Mukesh Bhai, an old man, Tanuja and me
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Tanuja and I reached Manek Chowk, bid farewell like every day at the char rasta from where we go our different ways. It was blazing hot at 11 in the morning and I proceeded towards where my group works. I was walking down the extremely busy lane with cars, autorikshaws and pedestrians all on the same 10ft road. I hurried my step to reach the place as soon as possible to get out of the scorching sun. Reaching the turn which leads to the house serving as the workplace I noticed after so many days that the light of the sun dimmed. The walls of the surrounding houses were blocking the sun and making the small lane cooler. Like every day I crossed the chaiwala, the Jain temple, then the road winds and dips to my destination. I had already told them yesterday that I will be there in the first half of the day and will go back in the late afternoon. After watching the later end of the last match and India being in the finals I didnt want to miss the final world cup match. I approached the door and saw three of them working. Kamlesh the youngest of the lot was missing. The Seth as always was sitting in his corner, near to the gadda working with a hammer and a big iron brick which had slots. He was hammering chains which were already welded, finishing them with his hammering to set them straight in the iron brick slots. As soon as I was going to sit in front of him on the floor, he directed me towards the gadda next to where he was sitting. I asked him yahan baithun and without a word he nodded his head. He explained what he was doing. He told me the process of the raw chains woven in place by the gram udyog women, put in wire and welded, followed by hand twisting, which then turns into a fabulous piece of jewellery that he was now hammering. As he was explaining all this to me Hiralal had taken a break from his welding, stretched his hands and gone out of the room probably to take a walk. Seth told me that still a lot of work was left to be done on the payal like the locking mechanism and the danglers. Mukesh was silent as always placing the cut chains into wires, putting chemical on the parts to be welded and making them ready for Hiralal to weld. Kamlesh had returned back and sat across the munimji table where I was sitting. He started putting the welded chains into another wire and hand turned them. He then gave those chains to the Seth to finish by hammering. I was thinking to myself how the process goes seamlessly without a word and how everyone knows what to do next. Hiralal walked back into the room and sat on the place he was working at. He started to weld the chains Mukesh had made ready for him. The room was silent in terms of human conversation now the sounds that I could hear were of the blow torch and the hammering. Suddenly from my corner I could hear the Seth speak in Gujarti to Hiralal it sounded like a scolding to me. The only thing I could make sense of was that the work is not getting completed on time. He sounded rude; his tone of voice was different from what he normally sounds as. Hiralal answered him back and they had a heated argument for a minute or so. I was thinking to myself if this would anyway affect my relation with the group. Would the Seth think of me as an obstruction to his work? I gave myself hope that he sounded normal a few

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minutes earlier while talking to me maybe it was their internal understanding of time and work matrix that he was complaining about. Hiralal was blow torching with a long face. He didnt look up even once, welding one piece after another continuously. He looked sad and disheartened as a typical employee who had just been scolded by his employer. Maybe I was remembering my own employment days when my boss use to shower me with words of frustration and anger. This was a significant incident for me in the group. All the days that I have been here the power equation in the group was muted and all of them were working as a group with seamlessness. The event that had just occurred showed the exact equation shared between the karigars and the Seth. I was trying to understand the relation between Hiralal and the Seth as I had earlier understood that they had been friends, started the working together, one had graduated to become the Seth and the other one remained as a worker. After a long stretched pause and everyone concentrating on their work and I lost in my own thoughts. The Seth told me that his wife had said behen ko ghar lana as I was still lost couldnt get it at once and asked him kisko he repeat what he had just said and started smiling. He clarified further by saying that his wife had called me over to their home for dinner. I told him so kind of her to ask me over for a meal. I thought to myself that after all I had succeeded in making a good impression on his wife. I told him unse jyada bat nai ho payi, unko hindi ache se nai ati hai na, he said zyada padi likhi nai hai na isiliye, ata hota to hindi bhi samajh ati. I told him that she was as good in Hindi as I was in Gujrati and we were making sense of what the other one said with similar sounding words and isharas. To carry on the conversation I asked him if she had finished the shopping yesterday for the marriage, he replied that they had finished the needed jewellery shopping and now will be shopping for clothes in the coming days. The conversation relieved the tension that was mounting up in my thoughts regarding my repo I had build all these days with the Seth and the group to the scolding Hiralal had just got a while back. The room fell back to the sounds of the hammering and tinkering of chains. The Seth got up and left for a bit maybe to go to the loo, after a few seconds I asked Kamlesh who was sitting in front of me right across the munimji table mood kyu kharab hai, he smiled and replied kam ke liye, kam zyada hai na isi wajeh se all of them smiled at me. Hiralal said ye to roz ka hai and Mukesh added season chal raha hai na. The Seth returned and immediately everyone including me went back to what we all were doing trying as hard as we can to not make him suspicious. He sat down in his corner and started working he told me that they have been working for six continuous Sundays without a break maybe he had heard us talk from outside when he was not there. I told him I didnt know last Sunday was working as they had told me Sunday is a holiday or I could have turned up for one more participant observation. He had not told me that last Sunday they were working. He explained saying season chal raha hai, adivasi shaadi ka, wahan shaadiyaan hoti hai holi ke bad. He told that there is so much work to finish that they have been working overtime since a month. Overtime karna padta hai, roti rozi ka sawal hai, were his exact word. It was time for lunch he looked at the wall clock and asked me if I will be having lunch but I declined saying that I have had a late breakfast. He continued lunch break ho gayi hai, ye karigaron ka time hai. Today was the first day he had used the word karigar maybe he was distinguishing himself from the others or maybe he was too concerned or pained by the happening today that I had witnessed.

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I took the conversation of the overtime further to get a little more information by asking him till when will they be working today and he said ten in the night. I asked if he will be working this Sunday also as today was a Saturday. He replied to me saying che Sunday se to kam kar rahe hai is Sunday bhi karlenge dekhte hai. Kamlesh was the first one to get up pulled a shirt and a pair of trouser, from the clothes hanger nailed to the wall and left the room. I thought he was changing because he had to go out for work like I have seen him doing all these days. Hiralal and Mukesh also got up and left. It was officially lunch time now. I asked him how much will the thinnest payal that he was making now cost referring to the discussion I had with him yesterday that I wanted to buy a payal. He told me the thinnest one that he is making right now will be 50grams costing approximately 1677 rupees. Looking at me thinking he immediately said that he makes a thinner one too which will be of 30grams costing 1055 rupees. He told me that he was not making the lighter ones right now as the order wasnt there as they dont sell well in the shaadi season. I replied to him saying ye mere budget mein ati hai, doosri wali ke liye daddy se poochna padega. I told him I am a student and my dad was sponsoring me so would have to ask him. I clarified saying I wouldnt ask if I was working and earning my own money. He nodded and said haan paise to wohi de rahe hai na. He asked me if I would like to work on the payals like he was working, if I wished to learn. I took the opportunity to learn, gain some more trust and try and be a part of the group. But to be sure that he wanted me to do it after the incident in the morning I asked him if I dont do the work properly. He slide the metal brick and the hammer towards me and said aap karo seekho kuch kharab hoga to mein thik karlunga. The other three of them were gone I took it as an opportunity to ask the Seth about the Interview that I have to take to complete my research. I just had a hunch after the scolding event today morning that I shouldnt ask it in front of the rest of them. It was in a way to take his permission as he was the one in power among the group. I was not sure of how will he react to me when I ask him for the interview but I kept my fingers crossed. I told him that I have to take interviews for the completion of my project view for my project. Interviews of the people I worked with, when can be a suitable time. mein kab interview le sakti hun were my words which I later thought were too optimistic maybe subconsciously I thought to he will say yes, as I had build a repo and will give me a suitable time. To my surprise he denied saying Karigar interview nai denge. I was shocked I tried explaining to him that the questions will be simple and straight forward they will not have much details of working. They will focus on the family background etc.. To all my explanations he replied saying karigar pe vishvas nai kar sakte, karigar ki jaat hi aisi hoti hai, kabhi kisi ke yahan to kabhi kisi ke kam karte hai mene kitne karigar ate aur jate dekhe hai aur naya kaam ate hi chal padte hai aaj subah aapke samne hi danta ab muh latka ke kam karte hai. I was speechless I didnt know that he harboured this divide of karigars and him, today was the first day I had heard the word karigar from his mouth and it was again repeated right now like a class divide. There was no one around that is why he was so descriptive in what he thinks of the other three in the group. It raised questions in my mind what did he mean by jaat. Did he referred to all the karigars as one jaat or did he mean that the people he is working are of a lower caste to him. He started his work also as a karigar that i know from my findings from the past days and he still works with the karigars. Just because he owns the business does that make him of a different caste than the karigars themselves? He continued Order time pe nai denge to vyapari agli bar kisi aur ko order dedega, aap to chali jayengi hamein inke saath kam karna hai, Badme hamein problem ho gi maybe he was trying to justify for the morning overhearing when I had asked the other three mood kyu kharab hai. I thought I should do some immediate damage control and explained ye report koi nai dekhega, teacher bhi nai padte ye sirf

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dikhane ke liye hai ke mene aapke saath kam kiya hai. All this conversation I couldnt concentrate on the work he had given me, to hammer the twisted payals in place with the hammer, i was too focused on the discussion at hand. I thought he was not ready to listen to any of my explanations he continued mein aapko kisi aur se interview karwa dunga I was disheartened I replied kisi aur se nai bat karni jinke saath kam kiya hai unhi ki interview chahiye. This is the thing I feared the most till now this meant that he also feared me in some ways with regard to his work or his karigars. I tried again by telling him the type of questions that I will be asking family, family background, childhood, parents he maybe got a little convinced and said mera interview lelo, I told him he give the interview if he feels like aapne itna vishwas kiya hai to thoda aur sahi were the word that just automatically came out of my mouth. He had also shown so much of accommodation, let me visit them every day, answered all my questions, given time and allowed me to learn me some of the work skills. I decided that I wont be pestering him for the long interview and if he feels like it he can answer my interview questions on his convenience. I told him that I will be showing him the questionnaire, after reading and examining the questions he can decide whether to answer them or not. I thought I cant force the man to answer my questions and he should do as he pleases, it was his workplace and his people I was interacting with. I kept quiet and got back to my work and started working on the payals. An old man arrived with a big old jute bag, looked like the others who keep on visiting the group for picking up or dropping the payals for various reasons. The old man had a lean fragile frame on which his clothes look hanging. He was wearing nice clothes if you compare the working clothes of the group which are dirty and torn. All white hair, wrinkled face, must be in his 60s or 70s cant say. The Seth got up greeted the old man, took down his lunch box which was hanging on the side wall with a nail and started to place his tiffin box in the centre of the room which was empty. He invited the old man to join for lunch. The old man inquired about me and the Seth explained in Gujrati from which I could gather that I am doing a project on the way they work. Lunch started off, two of the group members came back HIralal and Mukesh. Mukesh bhai was carrying a polythene bag in his hand which has something rolled in newspaper. I thought the two of them must have eaten by now outside as they had taken a lot of time to return back or maybe the time span to me seemed too long. It turned out that the two of them had gone to get cooked food (sabzi). The Seth told the old man that every day they go to a particular place which is in the next pol, a bit far off but makes great food. The lunch finally was placed on the floor and all four of them started serving food. The atmosphere was silent I had never seen or heard this room to be so silent. I was the one making sound or maybe noise hammering the payals trying to make myself useful. I was doing mehnat as per the members of the group. In the sound of the hammer hitting the solid heavy block of iron on which I was trying to work on the payal, Hiralal asked me for lunch I told him that I will have lunch with my friend as she will be left alone. I explained to them that the group she is studying arent accommodating enough and she doesnt feel comfortable while they are having lunch so she asks me to accompany her for lunch. I carried on the conversation telling Hiralal meine to socha aap ghar gaye honge khana khane, aapka to ghar yahin hai he replied to me saying nahi mera ghar yahan nahi hai, mera ghar to gaon mein hai, mein to yahin rehta hoon his hand gestured to the room making a big U in the air. He continued saying that yahin rehta hoon, yahin khana banata hoon, roti apne liye apne haath se banata hoon showing me the roti in his hand. The old man added to his description saying ye isi kamre mein rehta hai. Hiralal added Kamlesh jata hai ghar harroz khana khane that explained his absence at lunch in the group. I felt sorry for him for his family not being here with him but then I thought isnt that true for a lot of Indian families of his background to live and work away from home. He must have

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decided keeping in mind his families good. I couldnt figure out all this while I always thought he stays nearby when he said mein yahin rehta hoon. He seemed sad and I felt stupid to touch on the topic like this. I was still thinking in the back of my brain how to convince the Seth for the interviews. The thoughts that came about were; should I take an interview behind his back, without telling him of the karigars? But then I thought that I would be backstabbing him and he was the one to let me in the group to see, observe, work and learn. I convinced myself that I couldnt do that behind his back on the contrary it could backfire on me as I dont know the level of trust too well between the four of them as experience today morning. My phone rang it was Tanuja asking me if I was ready for lunch I told her I would take another half an hour, i wanted to see them having lunch. I was keenly observing the way they were having lunch, they all were focused on the food and the Seth had food from his lunch box. Mukesh bhai and Hiralal shared the sabzi they had got from the outside vendor with the rotis Hiralal and Mukeshs wife had made. No one had plates they were all managing on the newspaper, polythenes and the tiffin daba the Seth had. The old man was having his bit from everyones plate using the cap of the tiffin to serve himself. No one was talking and every ones mouth was chewing food. I was creating the ambient sound with the hammering; I was trying to look focused on my work by hitting hard and making a lot of sound but kept a track from the corner of my eye. As soon as the food was over everyone packed the tiffin box, picked up the trash and got up. All four of them washed their hands and sat down to work. The Seth approached me to see what I had done all this while, he inspected the pieces I had made and said I had done a good job but they still werent finished. I asked him how, he showed me how to go about it and started working on the payals that I had just did. The old man pulled up the jute bag he had got and emptied its contents on the floor. There were bricks of silver falling on the floor making a peculiar metal noise. The Seth asked me to continue work and did but I was more interested in knowing what happens to the silver bricks. The old man sat crossed legged on the floor in front of the bricks with the Seth and meticulously packed two of them together wrapping them in newspaper. Placing the bricks one over another they very tidily made packets. I didnt want to look straight at them packing the bricks as not to look suspicious or staring. I would take a peek lifting up my head from my work, in the process I also hammered my fingers but the curiosity was overwhelming. He was putting the bricks into some beige colored bag; I thought the old man must be transporting the bricks like that. After a while I looked up I saw him put a jacket. What I thought to be a bag was actually a jacket. It looked like a bullet proof jacket with slots in them filled with the rectangular bricks all over. He tied the jacket tightly on to him and wore the shirt he had taken off earlier on top. The old man and his dainty figure with a heavy looking jacket I thought to myself he must be carrying a lot of load. He was ready to leave and at the same time my phone rang it was Tanuja again calling me for lunch. I told the Seth I was leaving for lunch and will be back in a while. On my way out to the main road I saw Kamlesh walking towards me. I asked him khana kha liya he gave a big toothed smile and said haan. Met Tanuja for lunch explained her what had happened. All the time I was thinking what to say or do about the interview i had been denied from. I didnt know what to say to them when back. I didnt feel like sitting with them any longer today was the day I found out new things about the equations they shared which were buried deep within and I needed time to think about my long interview guide that the Seth will be convinced of and allow me to take an interview.

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I reached back explained the Seth that I will be going; he gave me a straight face look. Kamlesh said Match to shuru ho gaya maybe he remembered from yesterday when I had told them I will be coming in the morning as I wanted to see the match in the evening. My focus was not the match at the time and I was disoriented to the question a bit I replied saying I dont know I was with my friend. I inquired the Seth if they were working tomorrow and he said they will for the first half. I told him I will see them on Monday with that Seth lost interest in what I was saying and started off his work looking down. Maybe he was expecting me on Sunday as well I gave an explanation of my campus bus not running on Sundays and today also it was not working, I have come in local transport. The Seth looked up and i told him that I will see him with the thing we talked about earlier referring to the interview. I didnt want to mention the interview in front of the other three. I told him that I will write the questions and show him then he can decide what he wants to do. I said bye and left, still a bit bothered and worried. Walking back I was trying to figure out what he feared from me? And what would the karigars tell me that he didnt want me to know. Was I posing as a threat to him and why did he keep on saying he will face the later consequences. What problems will he face if I spoke to the karigars. I was clarifying to myself that the data that I collect was just for academic use and would not bother him in any way, but I couldnt make him understand that as his work meant the world, his bread & butter to him.

Date: 6th April, 2011 Time: 11:00 pm to 4:30 pm Venue: Manek Chowk Nature: PO, one to many Actors: Baldev bhai (Seth), Hiralal, Kamlesh bhai, Mukesh Bhai, old man and me

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Today was the last day I could get on field before my submissions as Friday was the deadline. I was still in two minds over should I go or not to visit them. I had taken an off past two days to finish my work and still needed more time to finish up. Also one of the fears I was struggling with was from the last time I had visited them and the Seth saying no for a long interview. I had prepared my long interview guide and a separate questionnaire to show the Seth in Hindi. I thought that I will take a chance and go, even if I dont get a long interview I could show him the questions and get his approval for later. I reached Manek Chowk and started walking down the street which leads to my place trying to memorize the landmarks so that I could put them in my drawn map. Reached the turning which leads to the pol where my groups workshop is. As every time crossed the chappawala, chaiwala, the jain temple and then the turning which dips to the houses where my work place is. I was in a super hyper state since morning. I wanted everything to get started and get over at my speed. There was no one on the doorway today and surprisingly no sounds I took off my shoes and walked in. All of them had stopped in between their work and were discussing something in Gujrati. They all had a smile on their face and welcomed me in. I noticed something about the Seth was looking different today, I started wondering what it was then I realised that he has had a haircut and had dyed his hair black. I asked him had he dyed his hair, he said explaining ghar mein shaadi hai nai, mehman ane wale hai. I started rectifying my map and Kamlesh helped me. The Seth asked kya karte ho I answered yahan kaise pahonchenge uska map hai he said Kyu CBI ko lana hai I was shocked he didnt trust me still I said Itne dino ke bad bhi aap aisa bolenge. He said bad mein mushkil to nai hogi na I told him nahi. After making my map I asked permission from the Seth to click photos and he replied again suspiciously saying haemin problem to nai hogi na. Asked me if the camera was mine, I told him it was college issued and he repeated again Badmein problem to nai hogi I told him that he could trust me after all these days. The old man who had come the last time I was here arrived and I was told to keep down my camera. I understood that he didnt want to be taken a picture of. It was going to be lunch time and I wanted to show the Seth the questions I had prepared for him. He had got up from his place to have water I asked him if I could show him the questions. He said baad mein i wanted to leave early if he was not interested in answering the Long Interview so I told him that I would narrate them to him while he was working. The noise didnt seem to matter to me. Now my ears were also tuned to filter out the noise and the conversation. He asked me if they were in Hindi I told him yes and narrated the questions. I asked him koi bhi aise questions nai hai jisse aap ko lage, bahot normal se hai aap ko kya lagta hai, He said dopeher mein jwab doonga, Seths phone rang with the usual bhajan ringtone, his son had came to give him his lunch tiffin. Other three had left for food. Kamlesh had gone home and the other two for

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getting Sabzi. The old man kept on doing hisab writing in a copy and calling on the landline which kept on ringing after intervals. I wanted to leave but I couldnt was tempted to get the Long interview and photos of four of them. The old man took out notes from his bag that he had got and started counting. I was asked for lunch by the Seth and I humbly declined. As everyone arrived back except Kamlesh lunch was placed as usual, Seth asked me again for lunch and I thought it would be rude of me to decline him a second time. I was thinking of the comments that he had made in the morning of CBI and I should not give him any chance to not trust me. Everyone started eating and I joined in. Hiralal offered me his roti that he had made himself, it was really big and thick and I was not that hungry so I took half. Seth offered me his Sabzi saying Surya behen ne banaya hai after a bite I told him Bahoot achi bani hai I was offered Seths home rotis also and I couldnt deny I had another half of the extremely thin buttered rotis. I always thought I could hear a distant pressure cooker in the background, today I could hear it properly and thought it wasnt my ears deceiving me in the sounds of the workshop till now. Hiralal told me there were families living upstairs. The old man came and joined in. There was chitter chatter among them in Gujrati. Everyone finished and Hiralal started splashing water and washing utensils. Mukesh swiped the floor clean. I switched on my voice recorder and started recording voices. Work came back to its normal pace with the usual sounds but the ones that I had missed throughout was the sound of water. I had been too engrossed in the hammering and torching noises that I had completely over looked the sound of water and how important it was to the whole process of making silver ornaments. They would heat the pieces or silver again and again and to cool them off they would use water. To coat silver with chemicals they would again use water as the medium. Water was an inseparable part of the whole process. Right now Mukesh bhai washing chains, scrubbing them with a metallic brush by hand and splashing them in water. He would heat the chains again and again, throw them in water to cool them off making a sizzling sound that anyone would normally hear in ones kitchen. I clicked the pictures that I needed. The old man was leaving, he wore his jacket with silver bricks and said 6 7 ghante ka bojh Seth said ye khas admi hai hamare, inka phot allowed nai hai, I told them I understood. The old man said bulletproof jacket ki tarah hai na, I nodded my head Seth added goli bhi na choo payegi itna motta hai I asked the old man how he carries such a heavy load he told me this one was not as heavy as he use to carrying. He got dressed, picked up 2 other heavy bags and left. The thoughts that crossed my mind were bulletproof monk, but I dont think he was one. I didnt want to ask the Seth again for the interview but I was waiting and supposedly to myself wasting time. Everyone including me kept working; I was still waiting for him to get free. I had now finished recording and started noting points in my diary. Seth asked me what I was doing I told him I have a submission, day after and need to work. Hiralal said exam hai, 50% to ho jayega everyone including me started laughing. It was time for me to go as it was already 4:45 and could barely make it to Paldi for the bus. I told them I was leaving Kamlesh asked Hogaya kaam I told him hua nai kam karna hai jake, bus nikal jayegi I ran back to catch an auto thinking today was a total waste of time without getting a Long interview.

Geographical Environment

Description of the Road, Area, Ambience around & the Room


26th March > 3 16 I crossed the tiny lane in terms of its width and the amount of traffic it had. The street was blaring with noise of traffic and people alike. There were shops on both the sides of the street. I knew that the small lane that I was looking for was on the right side of the road. I moved along the road keeping close to the pavement but was confused about the turn. I remembered seeing a chai wala on the corner on the inner lane turning so I kept that as my reference. Saw a chai wala on the main road itself and there was a turn behind him but I had a hunch that this wasnt the turn. Totally confused I was moving down the lane, now I could see the end of the road with some kind of a temple where the road split. Didnt remember seeing a temple yesterday suddenly I saw a shop on the side entrance of a inner lane. There was an old man sitting there doing hand printing for a lady on a piece of cloth. I wanted to go closer and see how he was doing it with the wooden block in his hand. I turned into the lane and to my surprise found out the chai wala I was looking for. I smiled to myself, stopped for a few seconds at the chappa wala saw him working then carried down the lane to see if it was the right one. Crossed a Jain temple on the corner where two women were chatting away maybe passing time. I recognized the two cement benches in front of the house that I was looking for. 29th March > 7 - 11 I moved towards the chai wala where I could always hear the sound of the kerosene stove and the tea boiling as if reaching the rim of the vessel. I wondered if my group got their tea from the same vendor. On crossing the Jain temple whose doors are always open there was never a sound of a chant or bells. I would always find some aunties sitting on the steps and chatting away. To me it seemed like the village well you see in old Hindi movies where women gather to gossip and pass time. 25th March > 89 95, > 218 - 240 Inspecting further the sound came from the same place the small house that I had been seeing because of the benches. On the other hand I wouldnt say it to be a house as it didnt seem like one, it was angularly placed between two buildings that were taller to it and it had a common entrance leading to three other doors that were open. The place seemed very commercial there were two men in their 50s probably were sitting together on one of the benches and discussing something. One of them was talking in Gujrati and the other was paying attention to him listening keenly. Crossing the main doorway which didnt have a door, I saw three doors inside. On two of them there were men sitting. The small white broken door in front of me just opposite the entrance was where the noisy sound was coming from.They all went back to their work and I started observing the surroundings. There were two fans one was a ceiling fan and the other a table fan kept on a small wooden drawer cupboard. The fans were old rickety and noisy. They would be switched off and on, on intervals. On the wall next to the table fan was a thick twirled wire mounted between two nails on which there were different sizes of the same tool hang. They looked like pliers and were commonly called as Sadsi between the four of them. Thick, thin, small, huge are some of the words that can describe all the shapes and sizes present there of the tools. On the wall was a pipeline probably for the electrical wiring. There was a gas cylinder kept right next to the fan which had blow torch nozzles with pipes

attached to it. Just below the string of tools was the stationary drill machine used by one of them (the smiley one) to coil the silver wire. He was coiling them into spring like structures with concentration and patience. He was getting hurt at intervals by the wire which went haywire when it was coiling. He was trying to control it using a wooden board through which he was feeding the wire in the machine. I had seen the same thing being done at a smaller scale with a small hand drill in the Lifestyle Accessory Design Studio for Jewelry in college. There was also a small munimji table kept right next to the steel almirah which probably stored all the finished and unfinished products. The gadda was sandwiched between the table and the almirah on different ends, it was green in color. The table had a marble top had a digital weighing scale, a watch, spectacles, telephone, old nokia mobile phone and a brass tortoise kept in a brass plate filled with water and flowers. May be it was a representation of some god or goddess they pray. Speaking of gods the wall behind me had a small wooden shelf which had deity photographs. The largest frame was of Durga followed by smaller frames which had different other gods and goddesses. Also behind me were small wooden low seating stools (peedhis) with vices mount on them, I remember those so well because they are there in our campus as well and on seeing them I thought the basic machinery to make anything everywhere remains the same.

Rough Sketch of the Room

Long Interview Guide

The Long Interview guide had to serve the purpose of getting insights in the life of the Seth and the workers (karigars) to form a similar format. The questions were formed focusing on their work and workplace so that the findings relate to the group and not become a single person driven, keeping in mind the power structure. The questions were built on the findings in the field and the questions I couldnt probe in the workplace. The Seth had become suspicions of the long interview and denied me permission to have a long interview with the Karigars. He wanted to see the questions that I will be asking him first and then decide whether he himself will answer any questions. The questions in the interview guide have a neutral tone and were made keeping in mind all four of the group members.
{ ////// suggests the change in questions according to the respondent}

Name (full name), Age

Family Background
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Migrated from ////// your from where in Ahmedabad What did the family do Incident that you remember about your parents Something about your birthplace that you remember Incident from childhood Siblings Memorable incident with your siblings Education background Something you remember from your days at school School friends Any mischief that you did as kids Since when are you in Ahmedabad ////// are you still living where your parents(family) lived What made you come to Ahmedabad ////// what made you shift your base (house) How often do you go back to your ancestral place Family members (wife, kids) When did you get married Does your wife work What do you want for your kids What do you think of the educational system Any incident that you remember when your kids were growing up Would you want your kids to join your profession Is your family supportive of your work ////// do they like you working here

Business
24

How did you start your business ////// how did you join this business

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Did you take some initial training How long did it take for you to learn the trade Work schedule ////// daily schedule Are family or extended family part of your work (working in the same profession) How do you link hardwork to your work How important is Trust to you How important is group work and seamlessness How does the work flow smoothly without instructions Workers and their importance to you ////// importance of people you work with What do you like about your work Work flow (how does work come and go) ////// how important is time in the work flow Ownership of vehicles Ownership of houses Ownership of electronic gadgets / mobile phones etc. What do you use your mobile phone for Approximate monthly income Would you want to expand your business ////// change your work

Leisure
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Some important incident that influenced your life (other than work) What do you do in your free time ////// how do you spend weekends Do you listen to songs / radio Do you sing ////// mention a favourite Do you like movies Mention a few favorites Do you watch serials How often do you have family get-togethers Do you go out on family vacations

Sample Questionnaire Shown to a Respondant

I made a separate questionnaire for the Seth for him to see first and approve of the questions for the long interview. The questions are based on the long interview guide, focusing on the Seth as the respondent. Written in roman urdu read out to him in spoken language Hindi.

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Aapka poora naam, umar Aap kahan ke rehne wale hai Aapne gaon ke bare mein kuch batayein ya apne badhe buzurgon ke bare mein Kuch apko jo aapke bachpan se yad ho Apne kahan tak padai ki hai Aap ahmedabad mein kab se hai Aapka yahan ana kaise hua Aapke ghar (family) mein kaun kaun hai Aap apne bachon ke liye kya chahte hai Aapne apne business kaise shuru kiya Aap apne kaam ki dincharya batayein Apko business mein koi madad karta hai (family extended family) Aap mehnat ko apne kaam se kaise jodte hai Aapke vyapar mein vishwas kitna mehetvapoorn hai vistar karein Aapke kargigar bina zyada kuch bataye kaam karte hai iske barre mein kuch batayein Aapke saath kam karne wale vyakti kitne mehetvapoorn hote hai Aapko kya acha lagta hai apne kam ke barre mein Aap ke kaam ke ane jane ka kya vyavhar hai Aapki zindagi ki koi mahatvaporn ghatna Aap apne khali samay mein kya karna pasand karte hai

Coding & Emerging Categories

1} Noise
1.1) Source of the noise

25th March > 205 210, > 240 244, >311 - 314 The old man said ladies not allowed he said I cannot allow you to work here, on inquiring why he explained me that the place had dangerous machines and could get badly hurt. The youngest one added bahot aawaz hai, pollution bhi hai on asking him what he means by pollution he said garmi, acid, shor, dhua aur sans ki bimari. He couldnt make a sentence just told me words, maybe these were the words that he could relate to as pollution to him. I told the old man that I would not interrupt their work, would just observe them and learn by seeing. The noise of the blow torch made it impossible to listen to any other sounds present there. I thought to myself that there was too much of noise or on second thought I was not attuned to the noises or the surroundings that I was finding it as noise. They all were shouting on top of their voices and speaking to each other in Gujrati. The torch was the main source of the noise and would be made to turn off just to make conversation with me. Hiralal did so I thanked him and asked everyones names again saying I should know everyones names, people who I will be working with. He said it is difficult to talk and listen when there is so much noise inside because of the machines. 26th March > 65 68, > 84 87 Sound of the blowtorch today wasnt bothering me too much and I was keenly looking at him work. After a while Baldev Bhai came toward me and said aapka naam kya hai I thought to myself about time they asked me my name and wondered if he had taken off some time and come to talk to me. As I was watching Mukesh rolling and getting hurt the Seth shouted through the noise of the blazing blow torches and asked me to do something. I couldnt understand maybe because my concentration was come where else. He switched off his torch and told me to weight some strips of silver that were kept besides me using the weighing scale kept on the munimji table. 1st April > 6 - 9 I reached the place the sound of the blow torch was blaring away at a high decibel. I could hear it even before I entered the doorway. I thought it would be the same I would enter keep my back pack and sit on the floor waiting to join their work and conversations.

1.2)

Filter out the noise

25th March > 288 293 Everyone was working including me making my chain. I concentrated on the sounds present there, cutter cutting the coils, falling silver pieces of the coil into the metal bowl, noisy old table fan, blow torch, coiling wire, drill machine, hammering sound, sound of metal pieces turned in a metal bowl while torching, sizzle of hot metal pieces put in water and scrubbing of chains with a metal haired brush were few of the sounds I could identify with. There were three other machines in the room and they will also make some kind of sounds as well but no one was using them at the time so I dont know. 26th March > 75 80 Mukesh kept coiling the wire, one after another. He used a wooden board to hold the wire and the wire would pass through his hands and the wooden board making a peculiar sound, somewhat similar to when you rub a wooden piece. The drill too made some buzzing noise when the wire coiled onto the rod but the sound was only for a matter of a few seconds. Once in a while he would do ahh as he was continuously getting hurt by the wire which went haywire and uncontrollable at times it even struck him on his face. 6th April > 28 32, > 49 52 The noise didnt seem to matter to me. Now my ears were also tuned to filter out the noise and the conversation. He asked me if they were in Hindi I told him yes and narrated the questions. I asked him koi bhi aise questions nai hai jisse aap ko lage, bahot normal se hai aap ko kya lagta hai, He said dopeher mein jwab doonga Work came back to its normal pace with the usual sounds but the ones that I had missed throughout was the sound of water. I had been too engrossed in the hammering and torching noises that I had completely over looked the sound of water and how important it was to the whole process of making silver ornaments

1.2 (a) (Filter out the Noise) Radio


29th March > 72 76, > 98 - 101 Hiralal had just switched on the radio which was not playing the FM but the AIR. This was the first time since I have been visiting that the radio was switched on. I didnt even know if there was a radio in the workshop. I would always hear Kamlesh and Hiralal humming while working but the radio was a new find. Maybe they play it at times when there is less noise and work in the workshop. Now there was news on the radio, I could immediately remember my Grandfather at home who listens to the radio news three times a day like a ritual. Hindi news playing at the back I dont know if anyone was even listening to it.

2} Silent

2.1) Power equation


26th March > 52 55 I didnt know what to say so nodded my head and looked around. Everyone was working no one had stopped but everyone was listening. Maybe they had a discussion about me yesterday or something like that that is why the suspicion. He continued to say chandi ati hai jati hai sab vishwas pe hi chalta hai. I was hoping that Mukesh would teach me how to coil as he is the one who does the job everyday so well and I would get to talk to him as he is always silent. I finished off the wire that I had showed the samples I made to Baldev Bhai. I told him I will take time to get the hang of it. It seems easy when Mukesh Bhai does it every day with such patience and perfection. Baldev bahi closed my comment towards Mukesh by saying popat, thik nai karge to mein usko marunga nai, bajaunga sir pe everyone started laughing. 29th March > 122 126 Everyone was working simultaneously with the radio playing at the back, now it had some farming program playing with some Hindi question and answer round. Kamlesh added mujhe bhi poora kam nai atta, mein bhi seekh raha hun, Mukesh bhai to seth se bhi bade hai, unko tak ani ata. Seth said dimag chahiye kam seekh ne ke liye Hiralal added dimag kam chalta hai Seth ended it by saying hum sub popat bulate hai ise. 2nd April > 28 42, > 46 58, > 59 63, >106- 109 The room was silent in terms of human conversation now the sounds that I could hear were of the blow torch and the hammering. Suddenly from my corner I could hear the Seth speak in Gujarti to Hiralal it sounded like a scolding to me. The only thing I could make sense of was that the work is not getting completed on time. He sounded rude; his tone of voice was different from what he normally sounds as. Hiralal answered him back and they had a heated argument for a minute or so. I was thinking to myself if this would anyway affect my relation with the group. Would the Seth think of me as an obstruction to his work? I gave myself hope that he sounded normal a few minutes earlier while talking to me maybe it was their internal understanding of time and work matrix that he was complaining about. Hiralal was blow torching with a long face. He didnt look up even once, welding one piece after another continuously. He looked sad and disheartened as a typical employee who had just been scolded by his employer. Maybe I was remembering my own employment days when my boss use to shower me with words of frustration and anger. This was a significant incident for me in the group. All the days that I have been here the power equation in the group was muted and all of them were working as a group with seamlessness.

After a long stretched pause and everyone concentrating on their work and I lost in my own thoughts. The Seth told me that his wife had said behen ko ghar lana as I was still lost couldnt get it at once and asked him kisko he repeat what he had just said and started smiling. He clarified further by saying that his wife had called me over to their home for dinner. I told him so kind of her to ask me over for a meal. I thought to myself that after all I had succeeded in making a good impression on his wife. I told him unse jyada bat nai ho payi, unko hindi ache se nai ati hai na, he said zyada padi likhi nai hai na isiliye, ata hota to hindi bhi samajh ati. I told him that she was as good in Hindi as I was in Gujrati and we were making sense of what the other one said with similar sounding words and isharas. To carry on the conversation I asked him if she had finished the shopping yesterday for the marriage, he replied that they had finished the needed jewellery shopping and now will be shopping for clothes in the coming days. The conversation relieved the tension that was mounting up in my thoughts regarding my repo I had build all these days with the Seth and the group to the scolding Hiralal had just got a while back. The room fell back to the sounds of the hammering and tinkering of chains. The Seth got up and left for a bit maybe to go to the loo, after a few seconds I asked Kamlesh who was sitting in front of me right across the munimji table mood kyu kharab hai, he smiled and replied kam ke liye, kam zyada hai na isi wajeh se all of them smiled at me. Hiralal said ye to roz ka hai and Mukesh added season chal raha hai na. The Seth returned and immediately everyone including me went back to what we all were doing trying as hard as we can to not make him suspicious. I was speechless I didnt know that he harboured this divide of karigars and him, today was the first day I had heard the word karigar from his mouth and it was again repeated right now like a class divide. There was no one around that is why he was so descriptive in what he thinks of the other three in the group.

2.2) Seamlessness
29th March > 17 - 19 I thought to myself why do these people have to do work and talk like a chain reaction one after the other. One says something the others follow. 30th March > 44 48 All of us were working continuously without a word and the worked seemed to flow without interruptions or even a word. If someone would finish what he was doing he would know what to do next. I was looking out for some kind of sign language or key words that might be directing the continuous work. But there was no ishara or key word that was given to anyone, everyone of them knew what they had to do next. The only time anyone spoke was when it was really necessary like if something went or about to go wrong or something was done wrongly or if someone needed something when they were in the middle of welding. 2nd April > 16 17, > 41 - 42 I asked him yahan baithun and without a word he nodded his head. He explained what he was doing.

All the days that I have been here the power equation in the group was muted and all of them were working as a group with seamlessness.

2.3) Void of sounds


29th March > 105 106 The room fell back to the sounds of the Hindi news, the clinkering chains and the dropping of metal pieces. 1st April > 77 - 79 The workshop at the time was silent and empty I had never seen the place so dead and void of sounds. Seth was the only one present there I asked him where everyone was and as he was explaining that they had gone to get work back from someone, they all appeared back with bags. 2nd April > 147 - 150 The atmosphere was silent I had never seen or heard this room to be so silent. I was the one making sound or maybe noise hammering the payals trying to make myself useful. I was doing mehnat as per the members of the group. In the sound of the hammer hitting the solid heavy block of iron on which I was trying to work on the payal, Hiralal asked me for lunch I told him that I will have lunch with my friend as she will be left alone.

3} Sound of water

26th March > 112 - 113 Baldev bhai had finished his work at the torch washed his face with the water from the bore well. The sound of the splashing water sounded soothing in the heat as still the fan was off. 6th April > 44 - 57 I could hear a distant pressure cooker in the background, today I could hear it properly and thought it wasnt my ears deceiving me in the sounds of the workshop till now. Hiralal told me there were families living upstairs. The old man came and joined in. There was chitter chatter among them in Gujrati. Everyone finished and Hiralal started splashing water and washing utensils. Work came back to its normal pace with the usual sounds but the ones that I had missed throughout was the sound of water. I had been too engrossed in the hammering and torching noises that I had completely over looked the sound of water and how important it was to the whole process of making silver ornaments. They would heat the pieces or silver again and again and to cool them off they would use water. To coat silver with chemicals they would again use water as the medium. Water was an inseparable part of the whole process. Right now Mukesh bhai washing chains, scrubbing them with a metallic brush by hand and splashing them in water. He would heat the chains again and again, throw them in water to cool them off making a sizzling sound that anyone would normally hear in ones kitchen.

4} Playing

4.1) Pleasing
26th March > 93 95, > 118 124, > 180- 182 I would drop the thin silver strips into the metal container kept on top of the scale and they make the sound of thin metal pieces hitting each other. I like doing this as the sound was pleasing compared to the noise the blow torches were making. I couldnt understand why but it was a delight to look him. It looked as if he was playing with the pieces in the metal bowl. The action was like that of a bhelpuri wala who tosses the namkeen to evenly coat it with spices. He was doing a similar action using a holder to hold the metal bowl from one hand tossing the pieces and heating them using a torch which he held in his other hand. The sound was a mixture of the blow torch and the metal pieces jumping in the metal bowl. It seemed as if the pieces were dancing. I could relate to the payal that will make a similar sound when worn because of the ghungroos. It was as if a precursor sound of the payals itself as the pieces when put together will make the payal. I took up the work and he went off to the doorway to heat some metal pieces as earlier making the chan chan sound of silver pieces in the rusted iron bowl. 1st April > 88 90 It made sound as if it was filled with water with the metal pieces. Kamlesh said fair and lovely laga rahe hai, washing machine. That was the weirdest explanation I had heard of a machine that polishes metal.

4.2) Chai
29th March > 43 - 45 So the saucers were shared between Kamlesh and me. Kamlesh was making slurping sound while having the tea from the saucer. I did too I thought no one could escape the slurping sound when drinking from a saucer. 30th March > 131 - 135 Everyone was looking a bit free, work and the blow torching noise had stopped. Today Baldev bhai asked me if I will have chai, yesterday I was the one to ask them. It wasnt their tea break and they were taking a break so I took the opportunity to talk to all of them with open arms and said yes to the tea. As usual Mukesh went to the tea stall to get tea and was back within a few minutes. The conversation had already started

5} Gujrati
25th March > 72 73 To divert the topic to their work I asked him what they were making. He told me something but I couldnt understand the word maybe because of the noise or his Gujrati accent. 1st April > 23 32, > 36 42 I asked her aap yahan ate rehte ho, she replied to me in Gujrati to which I said mujhe Gujrati nai ati hai. She nodded her head but had a blank look on her face. I jokingly said uncle ne to kaha tha biwi aur tv not allowed she didnt give me any response, I realised later i shouldnt have said this in the group. But now I could understand why did she have a completely blank look on her face maybe she didnt understand Hindi too well. I asked her aapka nam, she replied Surya, it took me a while to understand what she was saying as I would never have thought of Surya as a ladies name. She spoke to me in Gujrati and I was trying to catch phrases that I could understand, which sounded similar to my understanding of Hindi words. Seth interrupted and explained her something in Gujrati from which I could understand Simran Bhen che, project mate ayi che .... something something the rest sounded just plain Gujrati. The Gujrati song ringtone on Kamleshes phone rang and he went out of the workshop to talk. Seth and Hiralal were on the torches welding as usual. Kamlesh came and sat beside me right nest to Surya Bhen. He started working on the metal brick rolling the metal strips into circles for the locks of the payals. She started to talk with him in Gujrati. They both started to laugh; he was still working while talking to her. I asked him if I could help him in his work. He was more than happy to hand me a hammer and a rolling rod to work with. Gossip galore in Gujrati, happening right next to me with all the sound of different machines filling the room; I couldnt understand a word of it. 2nd April > 50 53 I told him unse jyada bat nai ho payi, unko hindi ache se nai ati hai na, he said zyada padi likhi nai hai na isiliye, ata hota to hindi bhi samajh ati. I told him that she was as good in Hindi as I was in Gujrati and we were making sense of what the other one said with similar sounding words and isharas.

Synthesis of Categories

Synthesis of Categories formed

The biggest most important category is NOISE that is present. This category is the first level of understanding anyone can have to the sounds present. All the sounds that are not pleasant to the ear or are disrupting in any form are categorized as noise. I have categorized it further into smaller categories which are Source of the noise which incorporates description of machines and how the sounds are produced in the workspace by the workers. Another category of noise that emerged was how people tolerate it or filter it. Second category was Filter out the noise. It showed insights of how people in the group are not influenced by the unpleasing sounds for a long time while working. The category Radio is a subcategory of filter out the noise as it showed the same behaviors through a device (radio).It also showed how obvious sounds can be unrelated to the respondents showcasing what is important to them and how they categorize it themselves unconsciously.

Second category was SILENT which was opposite to noise and very dominant in the study. It was literal as well as metaphorical in nature. The sub categories that emerged were Power equation shared between the workers and the Seth. The other subcategory found was Seamlessness which was also metaphorical in nature it is based on the nature of the workflow in the workplace. The third subcategory is Void of sound which is obvious and literal in its nature.

The third category was the SOUND OF WATER which is over looked by the respondents themselves. Maybe because the sound is taken for granted and is obvious character. Water is the second most important thing in the manufacturing process they follows. Water somehow relates to their work, daily life and home in a very natural unexplainable way.

Fourth category that emerged was PLAYING which is then sub divided into Pleasing and Chai. Pleasing has its roots into the workplace and the sounds that emerge while working which are pleasing to the ear. Chai relates to playing, through the free time the respondents have at hand. Both of them are very rudimentary in nature.

The fifth and the last category that emerged was GUJRATI. It is the mother tongue of the respondents and the language they communicate in while working or doing work related transactions. To an outsider who doesnt know the language or in workplace it becomes a part of the sounds present.

Research Plan
(Changed on field as per the problems faced)

Research plan

24th March In the initial trip to the field I couldnt find a group which was interesting to me. If they were interesting I was not sure of how to approach them and make them understand my research objective. I was sure that I wanted to do something with crafts or artisans because of the sound aspect involved in the research. 24th, 25th & 26th March The understanding that I could find in the first two days of roaming without an unclear objective was that the safest way to approach an artisan group was to pose as a student who is there to learn the craft. The plan worked very well, in the field with the group I have chosen. The group was found by accident, through experiments and persistence they were ready to let me work in their group. I will be trying to visit them everyday which will result in the same number of pos. There are only four members in my group and I would want to take interviews of everyone of them. 30th March I am working as a part of the group and they look as me in some terms as one of them but I have to be careful of how I proceed as I should not threaten any of their beliefs or notions. This might happen as I am the only woman in a male work environment. 2nd April As the days proceeded it was difficult for me to judge if they completely trusted me especially the Seth who was in power. He had refused to let me take an interview of the Karigars or even him. The only way out now can be to make him understand the questions. If he sees security in the kind of questions asked he will impart trust in me maybe giving me permission to interview him and his Karigars. The first step would be to show him the questions. Second will be to convince him to give his own interview. Third regain trust and the last one to take interviews of the Karigars. 6th April Still the trust is not 100% and the Seth keeps on asking the implications of the study. I showed him a questionnaire and he was ready to give his interview but kept on delaying it till I didnt have time to take it. I will be visiting my group as often as possible and will be trying to get the Seths interview in the coming days. The coding that I will be doing in my research will be on the basis of sounds, their relations which will be both literal and metaphorical in nature

Reflexivity in the field

Reflexivity documentation The power in the group lays with the Seth the owner of the workplace. It is influenced and driven by the economic strata and structure. The person with less amount of money is always dominated and made fun of by the powerful. Class and caste emerge in the field on the basis of the work dynamics. Gender is an issue as the workspace is male dominated who have difficulty in accepting a woman who can be equal to them in their workplace which deals with mind, power, trust and labour.

Related Interests