It is Saturday morning, and the baby at the construction site next to our house won’t shut up. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration: he’s not baby, he’s a toddler.
They’re building a three-story shopping center in our quiet, by Indian standards, neighborhood. The site has been a riot of chaos for a month now. Overlords in mirrored glasses overseeing a sari-clad chain gang. On most days the hideous grind of the cement mixer drowns out the crying children. Toddlers. Whatever.
At night, most of the workers go home, but dozens stay and crowd into the pair of cinder-block shacks that were built when the construction first started. I’ve heard that these builders are nomadic families who travel from one project to the next for six months or a year at a time. The children play in the sand piles until they are old enough to carry cement on their heads; apparently around age four. The ten-year-olds cook for the families on open fires, inside the shacks, breathing in black smoke… while my husband and I lay in our canopied bed, in our air-conditioned bedroom, complaining about the crying baby, and trying to forget that it looks like a UNICEF commercial is being filmed next door.