We checked out of our hotel before dawn, eager to arrive at our destination before first light. We headed out in the direction of Dinajpur (another 3-hour drive away). On the way, we stopped at Mahastan Bazar, one of the biggest wholesale markets in the region. It is a very hectic, interesting, yet odd, blend of fish auctions and cauliflower wholesale depots.
One of the more interesting things I saw was a slew of young boys, squatting next to large plastic tubs of live fish, smacking the surface of the water with their hands… little human aerators…
We continued our journey towards Dinajpur, stopping en-route whenever photo opportunities arose. We had seen many up to this point but finally we saw the first active smokestacks that were bellowing white smoke into the clear blue sky.
The sheer scale of this brick factory was mind-boggling.
Kilns the size of football fields, two stories high, hand packed with MILLIONS of handmade bricks. These fiery beasts were hand fed with ground coal through small covered holes on the roof. The men wearing only wooden-soled sandals to “protect” them from the intense lava-like heat of the inferno with baking ceramic underneath.
The heat was oppressive and the work a never-ending dance of feeding, loading, and emptying the kiln. The hands of the men were as hard and cracked as the bricks they were stacking and unstacking; their backs permanently hunched.
Surrounding these temples of fire where rows and rows of perfectly aligned bricks, slowly drying in the sun. A handful of men, packed hand-dug clay into wooden molds, preparing for the next batch of bricks to be fired. The human effort involved to do this was something I had only imagined. To see it in person was a whole different experience.
Before arriving in Dinajpur we stopped in a small village at the Birampur Dinajpur market. A relative oasis compared to the intense heat and dust of the brick factory. They were all very keen to be photographed, and so we focused a part of that afternoon on taking close-up portraits.