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Hitesh Kangar Kharet

Interview Summary

Hitesh, who is Shamjibhai Siju’s employee, is a washer of the hand woven shawls. When he was just one and half years old his real mother died and he was looked after by his grandparents. His grandfather was not a weaver but a watchman. Weaving was started by his father who previously had a loom at home, but now works on others handloom. Although Hitesh knows weaving, his poor eyesight compelled him to work as a washer. He also has some health problems in the chest and therefore cannot do any strenuous work. Before his current job he worked as a labourer and due to his health he left to start working with the weavers. He did attempt to complete his schooling but twice failed Standard 10. To cure his poor eyesight, Hitesh tried a number of things but without much success. Hitesh has two younger brothers who are both currently studying. One of his step-brothers is 16 years old and is studying for a diploma but will also learn the work that Hitesh is currently doing. His step-mother works as a labourer.

Hitesh’s weak eyesight means he cannot sit at the loom for a long time but he is quite comfortable with his washing work. He first soaks the pieces in a simple soapy water to remove the starch. Some pieces have more starch than others, and require more work to de-starch and make the fabric soft. The fabric is subsequently dried in the sunlight, and then ironed. Hitesh often does ironing too, unless a large order requires him to work for the other weavers filling bobbins, in which case the ironing work is outsourced. Though he is compensated less than the weavers on the looms, he is satisfied with his pay. They get around 4,500 to 5,000 rupees a month, while he received around 4,000.