Low-down blues of high-rise painters

Low-down blues of high-rise painters

While wannabe adventure-freaks pay through the nose to seek their thrills in bungee-jumping and rock climbing, there are some for whom, such acrobatics are part of their daily work lives.

Sliding down a rope hanging from a ten-storey building to paint is something Boban and his fellow painters is something they do every day, all for a livelihood.

“One false move can derail everything. But you need money to live. Painting high-rise buildings earns us more money than the usual painting jobs,” says Boban, who is currently working on a ten-storey building in the city.

Though they say that painting high-rises provides them better remuneration, in reality, things have changed very little for them. Six years ago, the payment was `300 and now it has increased to `600. With inflation accounted for, this comes to a very negligible increment. “But it is far better when compared to the money we got for interior painting, which was just `180 six years back,” says Boban.

When asked if the job is worth taking risks, Sujith, another painter, says that it is a calculated risk. “We are absolutely aware of the risk factors involved in it. The first day can give you the jitters. That is it.  When you are attacked by a battalion of odds in life, the fear factor automatically takes a back seat,” he philosophises.

Boban says that he got the biggest scare of his life when he had to paint a 24-storeyed building. “That was just too huge to handle. Such huge buildings can send shiver down your spine,” he says.

They all agree however, that the scariest part is painting the ceilings of the buildings. “That is a nightmare while painting a high-rise. To paint a ceiling, we have to make do without any external support. We have to depend solely on the rope. It can be scary sometimes,” they admit. In such situations, the safety belt is the lone life-saver for these painters. But they admit that they use it only occasionally, when the risk is too high. “We are supposed to wear them but usually we don’t. It hinders the works and inhibits our movement,” they say.

Not everyone in the team takes up the job of painting high-rise buildings. Jijo, Gins and Abhilash are novices who assist the main painters. “You just cannot take this up all of a sudden. It requires experience,” says Sujith.

Interestingly, among the six-member team, three painters are graduates. “The dignity of white-collar job often lures us. We are qualified and are appearing for PSC examinations. Our hop is that luck would shine on us soon, so we can get rid of this scary life,” says Abhilash, who is an English Literature graduate.

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The New Indian Express