Smartphones

Itinerant brick kiln workers use WhatsApp to stay in touch.

Donkey owner-drivers working in the brick kilns of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are paid every Friday, but receive a lump sum payment at the end of the brick-making season. This allows them to buy Indian-made smartphones costing about 5,000 Rupees each.

Most donkey owners are itinerant and may be away from their home villages for many months at a time. The phones allow them to stay in touch, both with family members, and friends working in other kilns. They’re also a status symbol for the young. Using WhatsApp is cheap and may be a spur to literacy for a largely unschooled workforce.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Virat (13) who likes to be known as ‘Brad’ with his smartphone. He good-naturedly photographs every move the UK photographer makes.

 

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Arjun, brick kiln boy

This is Arjun, he is a 12 year old boy working as a donkey driver in the MA Ambabpur brick kiln near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. This story will tell you about how he spends his day.

 

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Donkey Cam

Donkeys have a blind spot immediately in front of them, but can see right round to their hind legs – though not behind their head.

Simply mounting a wide angle camera on a donkey’s head won’t tell us how a donkey really ‘sees’ the world. But it can tell us something about its working life. Its movements, its height, the rhythm of its work, how it directs its attention and perhaps how it relates to people and other donkeys.

This donkey shot 2,700 photographs over a 45 minute period as it went about its repetitive work at a brick kiln in Gujarat, India. This selection of its work will tell you as much about what I think makes an interesting photograph as it does about donkey consciousness. But that would apply if I had shot them myself.

 

With thanks to the donkey with the camera