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April 23, 2020

#CityFromMyWindow: Everyday Heroes

Aaran Patel

Photographer Aaran Patel shares glimpses of the city as seen from his window in Mumbai. His portraits of essential service workers in action are reminders that even in standstill, a city needs its heroes.

“While most people are only venturing out of their homes to get food and other supplies, municipal workers of @my_bmc are doing a wonderful job keeping the city clean and particular areas sanitised. I’ve been training my lens on this particular street curb across from my building. Usually a bustling site of activity under the banyan tree, under present circumstances, there are only these everyday heroes who fleetingly grace this curb.”

“Even in normal circumstances, the frontline workers delivering gas face an arduous task. Cylinders, even when empty, are heavy and carrying them around the city is literally backbreaking work. But during COVID-19, the frontline workers like these HP Gas delivery men are bearing even greater risks and are everyday heroes. Although it looks like they’re taking a break, the delivery men were planning out logistics and over the next few minutes oversaw a smooth operation of pick-ups with appropriate physical distancing.”

“Mumbai Police on the beat. There have been plenty of reports of instances of brutality by officers around the country that deserve condemnation and victims who deserve justice. But there are also thousands of police men and women who are risking their own lives and the lives of their families by ensuring compliance during the lockdown. As of a few days ago, 1 in 6 police officers in New York was sick or in quarantine. I hope that situation doesn’t pan out in Bombay and the rest of India.”

“A security guard with lunch dabbas. It’s been heartening to hear how so many buildings and societies are taking care of their watchmen, providing chai twice a day, regular meals and rooms with bedding. That’s the very least that can be done in these tough times.”

“Amidst the lockdown, life goes on for the essential suppliers and producers. Jamil (the man under the airborne watermelon, who was looking right at me as I photographed him from a balcony) has run this fruit shop for as long as I remember. On occasion, he’s been hassled by the police and local authorities only to return to business a few days later. And during the janata curfew and first few hours of the lockdown, he shut down his shop only to resume supplying fresh produce once clear details about “essential services” emerged. Even in non crisis times, I’ve seen Jamil being generous in sharing an orange, apple or banana here or there with the less fortunate and I’m sure he’s been equally giving in the current circumstances.”

“Municipal workers planning their next course of action.”

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