Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Khari Baoli: The Porters of Spice

Khari Baoli is a street that runs from the Fatehpuri Mosque on Chandni Chowk to the western edge of the old city of Delhi, and is its wholesale spice market. Little has changed there for centuries. Enormous jute sacks of herbs and spices are brought to the wholesalers on long, narrow barrows or carried by porters. From ginger to chilies, from lentils and rice to jars of chutneys, pickles, nuts and tea...all kinds of spices and hers can be found here.

The market itself is on the south side of Khari Baoli, and was built by wealthy merchants in 1920s. It is now Asia’s largest wholesale spice market. It's an important and busy commercial district, and caters to the vast spice market of North India, including states of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and even as far as Madhya Pradesh, making it perpetually crowded with traders, and shoppers.

However, my focus was on the porters who carry the loads of spices from and to the market. Mostly from Rajasthan and Bihar, they're extraordinarily tough and strong.

Khari Baoli: The Porters of Spice can either be seen on Vimeo (above) or as an audio-slideshow (much better quality).