As we entered the room full of ginger, Divakar told the workers that I was an American correspondent shooting photos for a major newspaper. The concrete floor was covered with mountains of ginger root. Several workers were cutting open large bags, dumping the ginger on the floor, shoveling it back up and re-bagging it.
The Ginger Boss (no relation to Cake Boss) weighed the bags on an ancient looking scale with large metal counter weights. Once the sacks were filled to the desired weight, Ginger Boss dragged them to the doorway.
It felt like we had walked through a time doorway and back into Cochin circa 1850 or 1750 or 1600 for that matter. That’s because I think it could have been almost any time. I can’t imagine this type of work has changed in hundreds of years.
The only sounds in the room came from Ginger Boss giving orders to the workers in Malayalam and the click, click, clicking of my camera. Wisps of ginger dust rose like smoke in the air, revealing their true beauty only after snaking into the incoming sunbeams.
It wasn’t long before my camera was covered in cream-colored ginger dust. I dripped with sweat. My eyes burned. I could no longer see through my viewfinder. I couldn’t look at anymore ginger that day. And for that matter, I will never be able to look at ginger the same way again.