Working Hands: The Ginger Ways

Wandering around Kochi. I try to avoid the constant offers of western food, tuc tuc rides, ayurvedic massages or even salvation. I try to do that by getting lost. The less stores I see, the less neon blinds my eyes, the more I feel attracted to. And so I draw my map, my mental map that adds up details in real time. I sometimes feel like the deranged castaway that burned the map, because he couldn’t take it anymore. That’s when you find the best things. That’s when an auto rickshaw driver, approaches me. A stylish guy, hair gel and fancy shirt. He looks like he will suddenly transform his shaky vehicle into a sports car. He’s dressed up for it. “Hello, sir! Where you going?” You know, the usual driver’s lingo in India. “I’m just walking, man. Just out for the exercise” He looked surprised, in sheer awe that I was walking in such heat. “Sir, you don’t walk! 4 kms to Palace! I take, I take!” When I explained him that I really wanted to walk and not know where I was going, he was struggling not to look shocked. “That’s fine, Sir. But I can take you to ginger factory.” Ok, now you got me, I thought. A ginger factory? That actually sounds like a good change from temples and churches and all that jazz. And so he took me. A triumphant smile on his face. Not a mean one, just a childish chuckle now and then, tasting his convincing skills. What he showed me though, was fantastic. A true experience of manufactured work. In a 400 years old building, ginger is still dried, sifted and packaged by hand. As I get in, my nostrils are invaded by hordes of this intense, concentrated fragrance. It’s so aggressive at first, that my eyes water. After a while it gets better, quite pleasant actually. I just stood around, talking to the workers, trying to ask questions. They wanted to hear my story, which I told in brief words. Communication was quite hard, but I was amazed by the generosity of those who work there, just by letting me witness their work, just by letting me shake their hardened hands. I can’t help but think it was a good day. In the middle of all the 5 star resorts and hotels, there are still people that work hard, just as their ancestors have.


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