In Conversation with Artists from Amar Colony

In Conversation with Artists from Amar Colony

Leaving his hometown in UP, Ramnath has been doing different type of chores his whole to feed his family.


After marrying off his four daughters, he now lives with his wife in Nagloi, Delhi.


From how long are you doing this job?

“It has been 22 years that I’m working here.”


What kind of work do you do here?

“My main work is polishing. The furniture comes from the Badarpur factory to be polished here.”


From where have you learnt this craft?

“I learnt it here itself. When I came I didn’t had the idea, my owner and other workers taught me and now it has been so many year that I have been doing this.”


Was this your first career option? What all other works have you done?

“No, this is not my first job. Earlier, I used work in a steel company. But as it was dissolved, so I had to shift to south extension and then I came here.”


Are you satisfied with your job and income? Do you work somewhere else other than this?

“No, I don’t work anywhere. This is the only source of my income. I am satisfied with my income as I get to eat three times meal.”


Are you not bored/ tired of doing this for 22 years?              

Ramnath smiled and said “Majboori mein koi insaan thakta nahi. Thus, I did all the work that was offered to me.”

(In state of helplessness, no man is tired) this line just put me in deep thought and gave me chills.


Do you feel any kind of competition between the workers?

“No, not at all. We all work in harmony. There is so much of brotherhood. We never felt any kind of competition amongst ourselves.”


With a big smile on his face he bid goodbye to us and got engaged with his work.


In a small talk with Irshad, he tells us about his feelings about his work and life. On asking what he was doing, he answered,” I am a carpenter here. I repair the old furniture and stuff. If a table needs a leg or. A cabinet needs a door or some other repairing he is the one to look for.”

Toiling for 20 years, Irshad switched from being a mechanic to carpenter.

Why don’t you resume being a mechanic?

He smirked a little and replied,” because of my self-respect. Once my owner threw money at me over a little thing, and from then I decided not to work as a mechanic.”


How did you get to know about Amar colony?

“My father used to work here as a carpenter too. So after quitting my first job, I came here and my father taught me how to mend the furniture.”


Tell me about your family?

“I live with my wife and kids in Sangam vihar, Delhi. My kids are studying. I don’t want them to be a labourer like me. I want them to study hard and start their own work. I want them to be happily settled.”


Just like Irshad, every parent wants their children to be independent and settled. Irshad is working hard only for his wife and kids bright future.

In conversation with Devkaran, who was sitting alone in a corner and quietly working I wished and asked for his introduction.


For how long have you been working?

“I have been working my whole life. Since I was young I started working with my father. I used to do small chores and gradually worked as a wage labourer, so you can say that it’s been 58 years.”


What is your position here?

“I am working here for 28 years now. I generally smoothens the wood (randa marna) with the help of a card scrapper (teg). Firstly, I sharpen the card scrapper and then use it to smooth the wood which is then polished.”


Where is your home and how many family members?

“My ancestral home is in Meerut, UP. I moved to Delhi years ago and now I live in harsh vihar with my wife and two sons.”


Do you plan on getting your sons in this field?

“No, never. I don’t want them to work under someone. There is nothing great in working as a labourer. My elder son has done and second has done 12th. I want them to work on their own but they are good for nothing. They don’t listen to me and stay idle at home.”

What do you like the most here?

“There is nothing specific as such. I like all the activities here and all the furniture that is made here. We all made it with full dedication and our blood, sweat and tears.”


According to you, which wood is the best?

“I would say, teak wood is the best to work with.”


Apart from Amar colony, where else have you worked?

“I used to work in Shahdara in furniture business only. Then I shifted to Amar colony 28 years ago.”



Busy polishing a table which was being ordered by a client, I had a small chit-chat with Ramsagar, and asked him what he was doing?

“I am applying this filling into the holes and scratches in the table to make it even.”


What is this filling made of?

“It is made of chalk powder, colour pigment, glue and other ingredients.”


How did you get to know about Amar colony? For how long have you been working here?

“I used to work in Jor Bagh in furniture shop only. I came with my friends to Amar colony and I liked this place and decided to work here. I have been working here for 25 years now.”


How many customers come a day, if you have to say a number?

“Sometimes 50-100 people come and sometimes not a single in a whole day. People do know of the Amar colony. During Diwali season or other festival, the number increases.”


Your advice on how to keep the wood long lasting?

“Everyone should use teak wood. Teak wood lasts longer and  if polished again can last for 30-40 years more, whereas board ply has less lifetime and can be reused again.”


What are your working hours?

“I work from 9 in the morning till 8:30 in the evening. The market is opened for all the days of the week.”


For how long are you planning to work?

“For people like us, it’s not in our hands. We have to work till our last breath. ‘Waise bhi yahan nahi karenge toh biwi ghar pe kaam karwayegi’ (otherwise, wife will make me do the household work)”

Do you use some of your ideas while working?

“No, I don’t, as in I cannot. Usually people tell us beforehand what they want or take it as it is. So we customise for them as per their needs. So it doesn’t become a problem in future we don’t use our ideas, moreover it takes 2-3 days in refurbishing one table.”







Lastly, I came across the painting duo- Rajkumar and Suresh, deeply engrossed in their work.


Are you two brothers?

“Biologically no, but we always work together, that’s why people tell us that we look like brothers.”


For how many years are you working?

“After studying, I came along with my friends to Delhi in search of work. I guess it has been 12-13 years that I’m working here. Suresh came just 3 years ago.”


What are the difficulties that you face?

“Every work has its own problems and challenges. It is difficult to work in less space. The air is all soaked with the smell of thinner and polish. It is difficult for us to work as thinner makes us dizzy, so is the case with saw dust.”


 What type of wood do you work with?

“We use teak wood, commercial wood, ply board, mango wood and sometimes Burma teak for our furniture. We mostly make new furniture.”


Have you tried your ideas on any of the furniture?

“Yes I have. We usually do order work only. When it is for order we go it as per the needs of the customers. But when there is no order, I try some of my ideas. Once I painted a chest of drawers with different colours. I painted it what colour comes to my mind. It got sold for a good price and the client told that it was some kind of abstract art. I was really happy that they liked my work. If given a chance again I will try my best to make something like that again.”


How long does it take to make one order?

“It depends on the type if order. Currently we are working on a cupboard. It takes 3 days to make one cupboard with full- fledged painted.”



Are you happy doing this?

“There is nothing like happiness for us. We have to do any kind of work to fill our bellies. We don’t have the choice of being happy or not. ‘Majboori mein sab karna padhta hai’ (Helplessness makes you do anything).”