Environmental Justice, Mining, Photo Essay, Place, Rivers

Koilwar, my village, in Bhojpur district of Bihar is in transit and on way to attain a small time town like look. There is lot of construction work going on presently. But it was not like this when I was born here. Beautiful landscape of the village with the perennially flowing river Sone for a backdrop formed the perfect picture. But like thousands of other families in the land, my parents left the village and all that we had, to arrive in Mumbai looking for a job to survive. But the village did remain one of our annual summer retreats. It was during these visits that the Sand diggers of river Sone enchanted me with their work skills. 

About 40 kilometers of Sone River forms the eastern and south eastern boundary of Bhojpur. But it is not the entire part of the river that is used for sand digging. It's the part near Koilwar, which is also known for it's double decked rail-road Bridge built during the British era across the river. It is under this bridge just about five kilometers strip of the river that is used for digging out the sand or ballu (in local dialect) from the rivers belly as the sand here is considered best for masonary work. 

Back by the river side, it is amazing to see bare chested men of all ages, disappear into the water for a few minutes holding a bucket. And finally come up with glistening wet sand. These men then load the sand on to their boats in the middle of the river and dive back to the river bed. Expert divers that these men are thanks to the river in which just about every villager has learnt swimming from childhood, fatal accidents are unheard of in the business. So it was during one of my holidays that I decided to take the plunge into the river with these men accompanied by my camera.

Whenever the men would come up with sand and take a break, we would talk. It was during these conversations that I learnt about the pride these men held in their work. They saw sand digging as an amalgamation of all religions. Hard to believe, ri

Sand Mining – A Photo Essay in Koilwar, India

This is the first ever photo-essay shot on sand mining in Koilwar, Bhojpur district Bihar. The sand mining nexus in Bihar is intricate and involves influential people at distinct authoritative positions in the government, administrative circles and mafia. As a

Agriculture, Place

The Apple Orchard

The Apple Orchard

by × May 13, 2022 × 1 comment

Place, Seasons

The Quiet Season

The days are short and cold, and it snowed last Sunday. The tree canopies, now brown, have thinned. The birds have begun migrating southwards — I hear their calls from my room, where I sip coffee — and people in …

by × April 21, 2022 × 0 comments

Culture, Human Landscape, Place, Poetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

Beyond This Room

Sure Thing

It is that with which the wind blows

And the snowflakes carry from the skies

The mountains echo in their deep crevasses

The sky possesses  in her blue, graceful expanse

The child has in her smile

The earth …

by × July 3, 2021 × 3 comments

Culture, Energy, Environmental Justice, Fracking, Place

Holy Land

Holy Land

I lived in a small community outside Wheeling, West Virginia for seven months in 2020. New Vrindaban – a spiritual community drawing on Vaisnava Hindu tradition, current population 100 people and 70 cows – was my refuge from COVID-19; a

by × May 30, 2021 × 0 comments

Agriculture, Frontier, Out West, Place

Henry (H.L.) Wolf; Independence on the Plains, Gathering Chips; Late 19th century; Albumen silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas; P1976.19.11

Gathering Chips

One of my favorite photographs hangs in my bathroom.

At its center is a wheelbarrow, with wooden handles, braces, and legs. The ten-spoke wheel is iron. Cow chips – dry dung – are stacked two feet high in the tray. …

by × April 12, 2021 × 0 comments