Manesar and the anatomy of a slowdownManesar1 October 2019.You should have led with the king of spades and not saved it for later,” Nanku tells Chauhan. “Have you forgotten how to play?”
Chauhan smiles sheepishly while shuffling the cards, a half-lit bidi perched between his lips.
Chauhan deals. Nanku falls short again. He is livid. Only one man, Sawant Singh, who’s in the lead, seems to be enjoying this banter.
It’s past noon in Aliyar, a village near Maruti Suzuki India’s manufacturing plant in Manesar, and men are concentrating hard on the game at hand. They’re playing Call Bridge, a four-player card game popular in these parts.
Behind the men lies the village market. Fresh produce is stacked alongside the limp and rotting stock from before. There are no buyers. Vendors take turns to play cards.
“There is no work. Thousands of our customers have been fired from jobs. What are we supposed to do?” asks Nanku.
Villagers are still in shock. They don’t know what triggered such massive layoffs at companies. Or when the migrant workers will return, if at all they do.
It’s like a game of Call Bridge—the industry and the government have made calls and fallen short.
The American dream through the H-1B wallSan Francisco Bay Area15 October 2019.Towards the end of October 2018, as the leaves in Atlanta turned an autumn shade of red, a Bengali man with a broken leg awaited surgery. It was around 9 a.m., and he lay in the pre-operating room at Resurgens Orthopaedics in Roswell, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta. According to the monitor above his head, everything looked normal.
With him in the small room, partitioned by a curtain from other patients, were his wife and a close friend, a fellow Bengali. The three of them were members of Pujari, a Bengali association in Atlanta.
Bijoy can’t quite recall the conversation they were having in the hospital room that morning. “It must have been a regular conversation about sports, movies, the weather. Not something I can remember.” And then someone in the room mentioned the term “H-1B”. The monitor above his head showed a sudden spike in his blood pressure.
After eight years in the US on a precarious visa, Bijoy has learned to laugh at the anxiety that shadows him.