Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Beedi Men, Part One

If you feel like lighting up in India, there's a cheaper option than grabbing a pack of cigarettes - the beedi. It looks like a slim cigar, but the beedi is actually flake tobacco wrapped in a tendu leaf. Almost half of tobacco consumption in India is by beedi and they come in paper-wrapped packages of various sizes.

Where do the little beedis (beedai?) come from? How about the 3 million or so workers scattered in little factories all around the country busy rolling away.

We ran across an operation in Srikalahasti. About what one would imagine: bales of tobacco stacked in rooms, a group of men busy rolling and other guys drying, stacking and counting the money.

The tobacco comes in giant bags, always maxing out the auto donkeys dragging them in.

A storage room and the men who weigh and dole out the tobacco for rolling.

The counting and portioning area: nothing more than an open air floor. A far cry from the cliched, high tech shots of cigarettes rolling through an RJ Reynolds factory back in the US.

The quota is measured in filled boxes, which then get thrown in a pizza-type oven for a quick dry.

No comments:

Post a comment