Heaps of Mere Metal

Cars, like private rooms, are a private space to many. Walking the city streets at late night, you will often see lovers hugging each other and kissing, making love, or sitting silent doing nothing obvious (do they love the silence inside the car with all windows closed, or did they have an argument that they are so quiet?). Whatever you see–they are moments of various lives in living. Life, despite its miserable draughts, is lovely and precious. The scene reminds me of a couple of car scene photographs by Elliott Erwitt (b. 1928), one of my favorite photographers.

New York City, USA, 1955.

Cars are things of luxury, at least to some extent, like a piece of jewelry sparkling in light of a party room or on a restaurant table against the blood-red goblet you hold and raise to your lips, calm and high above the the din and rushes of life.

But the beauty of car lives are riddled by bullets from muzzles we never expected like this one from Elliott Erwitt:

Colorado, USA, 1955.

Cars, luxury and commercial, and other machines including huge wheels that whirl in factories all over Delhi and the states around it, come to the junk yard in Mayapuri Industrial Area at the end of their life. The scene here is not luxurious. I often go to the heart of what they call Junk Market of Mayapuri Industrial Area. It does not look like a market because you never see people buying and selling thing in the way you are familiar with. I walk through the plies of steel and iron machine parts removed from junks brought here. It’s all sounds of metal hitting metal, machines whirring noisily and cutting metal giving off sparks and shiny grains of iron, welding tools sparkily joining pieces of iron, and people shouting to each other over the clanking and other metallic sounds. That is a graveyard for cars and other machines.

Machines from all over Delhi and the states around it are hauled to this place when they have lived their life, and they go to the dust they were made of–metal.

These people are like gods or doctors, and the place a morgue attached to a hospital. An organ in some huge biological system where some wastes undergo a recycling process.

Earlier I just watched them–yes, took some photographs. But this time, when my primary job was to get my scooter to the servicing center on the outskirts of the area, I took my camera to take some shots. However, I was not confident because I feared they people may get angry or may at least feel disturbed in their world being invaded by a photographer just like that. So, while I was out in the open, walking in the broad daylight among the metal junk heaps, my maneuver in taking shots took on some secretive nature, which was very obvious when I later reviewed the pictures–they were not well-framed, the perspectives or angles are boring, or the images were not so sharp. So I took this shot without humans near the center of the frame:

A closer look of the wheels his this:

Here are a couple of other shots selected from the few I took.

Junk Market, Mayapuri, India, 2 January 2016

This one was interesting, and my first reaction when I saw this was a smile (though general effect the whole grim scene in the world of this place usually has on me is shock and reverence because the place reminds me of how everything ends in the whole scheme of things)–the hoods and bonnets of three trucks are hauled up on the roof and they are lying waste there, not so valuable as the more massy metals below them, in front of the shops.

Junk Market, Mayapuri, India, 2 January 2016

I had so far watched primarily the machines crumpled, hit out or into heaps of mere metal, but not looked at the people there so closely. The above was the first view (just behind me watching two men breaking a vehicle down to parts, see above) that invited me to look more closely and into their faces (though this did not give me enough confidence)–so many people in that small part of the yard, walking briskly to their works, while others are at work on the side of the road, and some girls are looking for unclaimed pieces of iron among the heaps. The girl with a sack a little right off the center is the one who later on interested me most–how she bears herself and how see looks toward us.

A tractor delivering junks.


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