Finding Focus

Bazaar Shipping, Chandni Chowk Market, Old Delhi, New Delhi, India
I don’t even mind
That I missed the focus
On the two men
Finding instead
The propane bottles
Between them

In a very important sense
The tanks are assets
The propane is product
Both have value
While the men transporting them
Represent labour
Labour is an expense

The material vs the abstract

I once thought
This to be true
Only in third world countries
Where labour is cheap
Therefore, humans too
But I was mistaken

In a very important sense
The relative value
Of my pay cheque
Changes nothing
About my economic function

We have all
(But for the 1%)
Been reduced
To basic economic functions

A means of production
A means of transportation
A conduit of capital

Material objects
Are considered
And have intrinsic value

Human beings
But for our capacity
To earn capitol
And spend it
Are essentially equivalent
In every income earning function
To the robots replacing us

Robots are material
Robots are assets
Robots don’t earn income
Robots don’t pay taxes
Robots don’t buy goods

Shipping Propane
Chandni Chowk Market
Old Delhi
New Delhi, India

Taken during travels, 2017

The streets of any old city in India are typically no wider than a donkey cart, which is to say, too narrow for cars and trucks. Many buildings are accessible only by lanes and alleys even more restrictive. Some too narrow for a couple to walk holding hands. (Aside: I’ve only seen men walking hand-in-hand in India.)

These propane tanks are stacked and strapped onto the bed of a three-wheeled bicycle cart, which must be pushed because the load obscures the bicycle saddle. Almost all shipping in and out of the market is done manually; either pushed, pulled or pedalled, goods are stacked high on hand carts and bicycle rickshaws, or carried on foot. In the spice markets, porters heft burlap sacks of spice and dried foods onto their heads and trundle through the narrow alleys, looking like a constant stream of worker ants carrying food or debris through the tunnels of their nest. The volume of traffic is stunning.

I shot hundreds of photos in Chandni Chowk, the most expansive and crowded bazaar I’ve ever encountered. Safe to say, a majority of them feature some labourer transporting goods through the market.