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A peek into the city's gutter life.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He was naked. I discovered him in a Ballimaran street. Not much afternoon sunlight was peeping down into the manhole. Surrounded by black-colored filth, he was cleaning the blocked passageways of the city’s underground sewage.
While the passers-by who cared to look down contracted their noses in repulsion, the gutter man lolled around happily in his gutter. He seemed ignorant that these sewers are trapped with poisonous gases like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane.
Was he aware his skin was coming into dangerous contact with harmful chemicals present in the sewage water? A survey conducted few years ago in Delhi revealed that 49 percent of the cleaners suffer from breathing problems, cough and chest-pain; 11 percent from dermatitis, eczema and skin infections. But this gutter man was carefree in his youthful virility.
After he was out from the manhole, I asked him if he realizes the consequences of working naked in the gutter. “Hullo mister,” he said, “There are few things in life which you always have to do without your clothes.” The gutter man and everyone else around him started laughing.
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