For unskilled labor, the best jobs are the ones that come with a place to stay. There was a construction site across the street from my flat in GKII that had a big dirt pile in front of it. By day I saw the families – men, women, children – shoveling dirt into pans and taking the pans into the site. At night, I saw the families – men, women, children – sleeping on the pile of dirt.
I don’t know if the privilege to sleep on a pile of dirt is a free perk (like Wunderman New York’s Friday morning bagels) or a subsidized benefit (like healthcare, of which Wunderman only paid for half). At Birender’s taxi stand, his drivers all live in a big canvas tent. One of them told me he gets paid 200 rupees a day, of which 100 rupees is deducted for room and board.
And as we’ve seen on roadsides across Delhi – and, this morning, across the road from our own flat — one of the perks of building a sidewalk is that your family gets a sidewalk to sleep on. At least, while it’s being built.