Photo Series

Women in Urban Space

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Poverty is experienced differently according to gender, age, caste, class and ethnicity and within households. Poverty pushes you across geographical boundaries and the societal frames set by the same factors in order to survive.

More often than others women tend to fall victim to the Burden from these discriminatory power relations in the society. The working women from the lower economic section of the city today are those who have set about to tackle this problem on their own by their own means. They could be migrants, victims of displacement caused by developmental projects or survivors of natural disasters or simply looking for work.

They work as housemaids, sweepers, petty hawkers and largely vendors who now fall under the informal sector of workers in the big cities. The concerns of informal economy workers and particularly women workers can be easily overlooked in the process of policy making and even urban planning. The urban space these women occupy and function in, are not theirs and therefore are shortchanged by urban planners and various government officials who do not completely comprehend their significance in the neighbourhood or the city as a whole.

An Indian city without these women is somehow rendered, devoid of life and colour in my imagination.

A photo series of working women from the streets and neighbourhoods of different cities, by Krithika Sriram. 

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A niche in the Wall, Bangalore.

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On the streets of Jodpur
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Inside the Jodhpur Fort
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On the verandah, Ahmedabad.
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Quiet afternoons at a temple in Bangalore.

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Early morning Markets, Ahmedabad.
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On the tourist beat in Jodhpur.

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Gulab Gang, Darjeling
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Along the Mada Streets of Mylapore.
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Along the Beach Road, Chennai.
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Braving the rains, Port Blair, Andamans

The Romance in Abandonment

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Melancholic tales from a system in despair

Chennai has the distinction of having the first elevated Rapid transit system in the country, the MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System). Born out of a transport study by the Metropolitan Transport Project in the 1980s, the MRTS was proposed as a 20 km elevated and on-grade railway corridor with 17 stations, to ease the congestion along a throbbing transit route from the Central Business District to the fast-growing IT corridor.

Mylapore station platform
Passengers await the next train at the Mylapore MRTS station platform. The wide arched-truss roof allows a golden sun-glow into the space.

Envisioned to be a vital transit system with  the stations having additional commercial and institutional functions, the vast majority of the“air-space” in these hubs now lies in dire disuse, gradually and steadily moving to misuse. Caught in a vicious cycle of disuse and lack of revenue for maintenance which causes even further disuse, the system is caught in a complex concoction of decay – the  Buckhingam canal and dead spaces between the stations further adding to the poison.

However, there is a specific aesthetic that exists amongst architecture in the absence of routine human interaction- the aesthetic of decay.This aesthetic develops over time, as buildings cease to function in the way they were originally designed to do so; It develops naturally, as Nature reclaims what was originally it’s own and Man leaves behind his trails. A photographic exploration through the dying spaces helps identify any existent hope, potential and dreams of a better future.


|  CONTEXT  |

 

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Decay abounds. A foot-bridge connecting the Thiruvallikeni station to the slum behind it. During evenings, this becomes a playground of sorts for children.
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The system was planned to run along the banks, and at some places, right into the Buckhingam canal to avoid land acquisition problems.
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Parallel paths |  Similar Fates
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Desolate back lanes. Meant to be a service lane connecting the Kasturbha, Indiranagar and Thiruvanmiyur hubs.
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Assertive reticence. Columns holding the tracks above create a sheltered pathway beneath, awaiting the human’s feet.

 


|  SHELL  |

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Deserted atrium in the Greenways station. Even during peak hours, some stations do not get much passengers.
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Daily residents catching a nap
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Spacious desolate volumes broken by large silent piers.
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Blank canvas. A remnant banner from a photo exhibition in 2012 hangs unnoticed, Thiruvanmiyur.

 

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Man’s trails
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Left-overs from last night provide some clues to the kind of use the shadowed spaces are put to.

|  PANES IN PAIN  |

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Shattered panes break the cityscape into frames
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A rule breaker, in a string of order
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Art where the light gets in. Graffiti is a prevalent scene in abandoned spaces.
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Hanging by a slim thread
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Memories past; forgotten and lost.

|  HIDE AND SEEK  |

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A grand orchestra of sunlight breaks in from the main entrance, Thiruvanmiyur.
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Streaks of light peel the shadows, Thiruvanmiyur.
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Shutters can block paths, not Light.

 

|  PEOPLE AND ENCOUNTERS  |

 

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Walking across the Concourse, Thiruvanmiyur, the highest used station in all 17.
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Empty ticket queues waiting for human lines.
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Playground. Children indulge in a bit of activity at the entrance, Kotturpuram.
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The world is my playground. A child cycles up and down the ramp meant for differently-abled entryway, Kotturpuram.
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Silent enough to sleep. A child sleeps on the entrance porch of Kasthurba Nagar station, oblivious to surrounding chaos.

 

When was the last time you played on the streets?

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When was the last time you played on the streets in front of your home with your neighbours?  Many of us don’t have an answer – because we have never gotten a chance to do so. We say it’s because of the shifting culture and society where congregations, meetings, gatherings are happening in a virtual world. But the truth is that when there is an opportunity to engage themselves on the streets, people tend to come out of their houses.

Three months back, “Car Free Sunday” at Eliot’s Beach Road, was announced as an initiative by ITDP and Chennai City Connect Foundation to reclaim the streets and transform them into vibrant public spaces, supporting a more active and healthy lifestyle from 6.00 to 9.00 in the morning. People flood the streets, involving themselves in several interactive activities, street art, dumb charades, music and dance, in addition to fitness sessions and games like Zumba, Badminton and yoga. This also signals an awakening, a drive to promote streets as the primary public ‘place’ of every city. Here’s a Photo Series on the active street life of Elliot’s Beach on a Car-free Sunday Morning.

The Shuttered-Busy Shop fronts

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The “shuttered busy shop front” – doesn’t it seem ironic?

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A local resident reading Newspaper in front of a closed Shop @Tiruvanmiyur

How can a shuttered shop be active? Early in the morning last week, when I went for a jog, I noticed these shuttered yet busy shop fronts, crowded with the people from adjoining tea shops, random residents spending time on the road from, the early morning school goers, the random chit chatters, etc,. The shop fronts with nothing but raised plinths and a few steps are actively used, even when the shops are closed. I look at these small elements in the streets as a tool that facilitates a healthy social life within the people of specific area, engaging and encouraging them to BE on streets, interact with each other and share the commons.

In the rapidly modernizing city, these threshold spaces are fast being enclosed by boundaries and walls, curtailing the relationship between the elements of streets and people. The increasing privatization of public space is a recurring theme on Hashtag Urbanism, and here’s a photo essay that captures the pressing need for the commons to stay common.