Sunday, February 22, 2009

Laying of the roof

There is a construction going on in our road. Primitive style of construction with no technology being used. Affordability issues actually. Pure manpower what now in modern construction sites is replaced by machines.

This is especially apparent when the roof is being laid. In a modern construction site, if one has noticed, a huge truck, which mixes the concrete, is seen during the laying of the roof. This truck has an enormous drum which keeps revolving to mix the ingredients that ultimately constitute the roof. It also has a large drain pipe which can extend to n number of storeys so that the concrete goes right onto the floor which needs the laying of the roof. Pretty remarkable invention, one should admit.

But even more remarkable, I felt, is the manpower which does this same thing. During the laying of the roof, many construction workers come to the site and build temporary ladders using wooden poles - and strings to bind them together - that go all the way up to the storey where roof has to be laid. A small electric revolving drum is kept on the road onto which is fed the stones, the sand, the cement and water in right mixture so as to form concrete. The drum mixes them for quite some time, after which, it is rotated to the other end and the hot concrete is poured onto the road from the drum and the drum is rotated back to be fed the same ingredients to churn out more concrete again.

This hot concrete dump that is now on the road is put onto a number of medium-sized, oval-shaped, basins which are then passed, sequentially, from one person to another – each wearing gloves to shield from the hot concrete. This passing from one to another is the most fascinating thing to see. Especially because it goes from one storey to another, with men and women, throwing and catching the basin in a perfect synchrony, just like machines, for hours and hours until the whole roof is laid with concrete. Just as how the concrete-filled basins are passed up from the road till the topmost storey where roof is being laid, the same empty basins have to be thrown back in the same order for refill, all the way from top to the bottom. This perfect harmony, perfect manual automation, almost rivals the industriousness of the ants!

This whole process takes about 3-4 hours for one roof. Once it is done, the owner of the house has to provide meals to the hard-earned workers. And at the end of it, each of the worker gets the fees for the work that one does. In currency notes.

Somehow, this last gesture of getting money in hand, of feeling the crispiness of the currency after a day’s hard work, seems most satisfying as compared to getting the monthly salary deposited electronically into the bank with an sms that confirms the same.

The world has advanced technologically, but somewhere, the life’s charm is lost…

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