It was raining cats and dogs that day. Followed by a local dog, I entered a colony where the parcels are not only “Parcels”, they are the object of conflicts. They are the objects of life.
Without showing a care for the shades of the sun, rotation of the clock, the wooden wheels are heaped with parcels and pulled from dawn to dusk at the Parcel Block of Eastern Railway, Howrah, India.
Decades have gone, duties remain same. Revolution has come, labour never lows.
A kaleidoscopic orchestration is revolved by the dignity of human labour, speed and tradition into the world of extreme reality.
Editor’s Note – Anil Cherukupalli
Tanmoy Nayak in his photo essay ‘Parcel Colony’ depicts a not often seen slice of Indian life. Morning or night, sunshine or rain the parcel loaders of the Indian Railways at Howrah are captured in various freeze frames of motion. Pushing, grunting, straining, they struggle with huge loads that need to be loaded onto trains for transport across the country. The photographer does not romanticize these workers. As an observer of their routine life, his photos instead manage to lend a certain dignity to their work.
Cleverly using a mirror present on location, the photographer creates surprising diptychs that provide the viewer with often sequential views into the parcel loaders world. A diptych wherein the doors of a wagon are seemingly open to receive the load seen in the mirror in the first part of the frame. In another diptych, a loaded cart rushes past while in the other part another load of parcels await patiently their turn. It is as if the wagons are monsters that need to be fed with their parcels constantly! The opening diptych is perhaps the best where a parcel loader finds a rare moment of rest but his contemplative gaze unwittingly rests only on the next cart that needs to be loaded, as we can see in the opportunely placed mirror.
Parcel Colony is an effective mix of contemplation and action, often present in the same frame due to the intelligent use of the mirror. The photographer finishes the essay with a poetic last photo in which a lone cart driver pedals in between idle trucks as it rains. Perhaps this photo unduly romanticizes the hard life seen before, especially with its elevated perspective, but it is composed so artfully that we wholeheartedly forgive this one lapse.