Bangladesh. Day 9- “A spot of tea?” and Black Lung Disease

We descended on them like a pack of wolves. We fanned out, downwind and up-light with cameras at the ready.  We pounced. The poor women didn’t see us coming.  Being a group of 5 photographers it was always tricky to shoot candid shots, unobstructed. 

The Finley Tea plantations, in the area of Sreemangal, were breath taking. But we only came across a few women harvesting tea leaves (wrong season? Wrong time of the day?). We danced around each other, photographer around woman, photographer around photographer- like a fiddler’s do-si-do, trying to get the best angles without being in each other’s shots.  An intricate dance indeed.

Later on, eyes peeled to the horizon for smoking stacks of brick factories, a seemingly favorite subject of ours, we finally found a massive one full of activity.

 Rounding the corner of the kiln, I came across two young men shoveling and grinding big chunks of coal into the coal dust that would be used to stoke the kiln fires. With only filthy head wraps to protect them, so much coal dust was pouring out from the 3-walled corrugated iron shack that you could hardly see them.  I have never seen worse working conditions in my life. 

The coal dust was so oppressive that I was only able to tolerate the confines of the small hut for a few short minutes before having to run out for fresh air. The thought did not escape me that these poor men will probably spend the rest of their working lives in there…serious lung disease awaiting.

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