Keys to Aligarh

On a misty wintry Januray evening of 2008, I ventured out of Aligarh Muslim University to see the famous lock and key makers of the country in a drowsy jeep, which took us through the alley ways of the suburbs, vehemently horning through burqa clad crowd shopping through the local festival.

I walked through the slushy lanes with huge iron doors with multiple fancy locks that open to the dark rooms bustling with machines and metal noise! Men, women and children worked in corners of the dark rooms along the lane, organised in various stages of the process. Unpolished locks and keys were made in differnt rooms, they were assembled in another room and finally polished else where at the end of the lane! The labour is cheap and child labour is rampant, hence supervisors a bit hesitant to open doors to the camera!

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