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.
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.
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 |
| SHELL |
| PANES IN PAIN |
| HIDE AND SEEK |
| PEOPLE AND ENCOUNTERS |
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 front” – doesn’t it seem ironic?
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.