Faces of Bhopal (a private album)

Bhopal, January 1985

Ami (Anne-Marie) de Grazia in Bhopal, 1985

Six weeks after the chemical catastrophe, Alfred de Grazia journeyed to the site, in the company of a small team composed of Dr Rashmi Mayur, founder of the Urban Development Institute, Bombay (Mumbai), President of the UN-NGO Global Futures Network, one of the first Indian environmentalists and his former student and disciple at New York University; Dr Khumud Ini Mayur, Rashmi's sister, a biochemist; and me, Anne-Marie (Ami) de Grazia, Alfred de Grazia's wife. We stayed in Bhopal for six days. Alfred de Grazia and I then stayed in India until April 1985, writing the book A Cloud Over Bhopal and publishing it as soon as finished in Bombay (Mumbai). While in Bhopal, I took pictures on one or two rolls of film. I half-forgot about them. They have never before been published or shown. They are uncropped and unedited.

All pictures are by Anne-Marie de Grazia

Khumud Ini Mayur and Rashmi Mayur in Bhopal, 1985

Khumud Ini Mayur and Rashmi Mayur in front of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal

Khumud Ini Mayur and Alfred de Grazia

Khumud Ini Mayur and Alfred de Grazia in Bhopal, 1985
Khumud Ini Mayur and Alfred de Grazia in Bhopal, 1985

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Bhopal, 1985, a Union Carbide worker who lost his wife in the chemical disaster

The first "face" of Bhopal, at the end of the day of our arrival: a man, a worker at the factory, who had lost his wife; he is with his child and his friend. To the left, the fence of the factory compound. To the right, across the street, the slums, better visible on the picture below, with Alfred de Grazia.

  • Bhopal 1985, Union Carbide worker and Alfred de Grazia
  • Bhopal, 1985, slums across from the Union Carbide factory

The Union Carbide Factory

The team returned to the site the following morning. Here, people pointing, with Rashmi, at the stacks which emitted the deadly cloud.
  • Bhopal 1985 people pointing at the smoke stacks of Union Carbide plant
  • Bhopal, 1985, in front of Union Carbide plant
Bhopal, 1985, Union Carbide plant
Bhopal, 1985, Union Carbide factory
Bhopal, 1985, Union Carbide factory

Where workers lived

Bhopal, 1985, slums across from Union Carbide plant
The vast area of slums around the factory,
where most of the workers - and the victims - lived..
Bhopal, 1985, slums across from Union Carbide factory
Bhopal, 1985, slums across from Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 slums across Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 slums across Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 child from slums across Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 child from slums across Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 slums across from Union Carbide
Bhopal 1985 slums across from Union Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 slums across from Union Carbide plant

The man who desinfects the open sewers...

Bhopal 1985 escaped chemical catastrophe on his bicycle

The roller of beedie-cigarettes... He was able to escape the poisonous cloud on his bicycle, with his daughter (right) sitting on the handle-bar...

Bhopal 1985 daughter of beedie vendor
Bhopal 1985 slums across from Union Carbide
Bhopal 1985 Khumud Ini Mayur and victim

Khumud Ini Mayur spoke to the women...

Rashmi Mayur spoke to the men...

Bhopal 1985 Rashmi Mayur and victims
Bhopal 1985 Rashmi Mayur and Union Carbide workers
  • Bhopal 1985 Rashmi Mayur and Union Carbide workers
Bhopal 1985 Rashmi Mayur and victims

The team returned towards evening...

Bhopal 1985 slums across from Union Carbide
Bhopal 1985 Alfred de Grazia and little girl who escaped chemical disaster
Bhopal 1985 workers of Union Carbide home

and were invited into some of the homes...

Bhopal 1985 Khumud Ini Mayurslums Union Carbide workers
Bhopal 1985 Rashmi Mayur
Bhopal 1985 slums dewelling across from Unon Carbide plant
Bhopal 1985 old city

We visited parts of the old city of Bhopal which had also been heavily affected by the poisonous cloud

Bhopal 1985 old city
Bhopal 1985 Alfred de Grazia in old city
Bhopal 1985 old city

The City of Bhopal

1985 great mosque of bhopal

The 17th/18th century mosque is the largest in Asia.

1985 palace of Bhopal

The decaying 18th century palace by the lakes is known as the "Versailles" of India.

Streets of Bhopal

Bhopal 1985 shoe repair shop
Bhopal 1985 street old city
Bhopal 1985 street
Bhopal 1985 street vendor

The writing of "A Cloud Over Bhopal"

After Bhopal, Alfred de Grazia and I put the results of the experience and of the investigation together, and Alfred started writing the book, at first in a house in Goa...
Alfred de Grazia 1985 writing A Cloud Over Bhopal
1985 Alfred de Grazia Bombay

...then in an apartment in Bombay (Mumbai). We used one of the first model of something approaching a laptop ever made, a small portable electric typewriter with a tiny memory (it used paper and printed.) When we brought it through customs upon entering the country, we were smacked with a paper ordering that we will not be able to leave the country unless we take this devil's machine along with us. We used it to pay, in part, for the printing of the book. Long tractations with the customs authorities had to be engaged in order to free us from the obligation of taken it back out of the country. The book was published in Bombay at Commercial Arts.

In Bombay, we received the support of many of Rashmi Mayur's friends, such as Arun Gandhi, the Mahatma's grandson...

1985 Arun Ghandi Bombay
Alfred de Grazia Arun Gandhi Bombay 1985
Wagh Alfred de Grazia Bombay 1985

...Whag, a human rights activist...

Wagh, S.B. Kolpe, unkown, Alfred de Grazia, Bombay 1985

...and S. B. Kolpe (second from the left), President of the All India Union of Working Journalists and of the Union of Journalists of Bombay. S.B. Kolpe, who had been imprisoned for two years by the British at the time of the "Quit India" movement, was a historic leader of the Indian Trotskyites and founded a succession of newspapers around which Trotskyite and Marxist parties organized. He was publishing the weekly newspaper "Clarity," which had intensively covered the Bhopal catastrophe. Nicholas Coleridge grants him "a heroic leftist career." (From l. to r.: Wagh, Kolpe, an important Marxist intellectual whose name I don't remember, Alfred de Grazia. Together with Rashmi, they brought together an audience of over one thousand in Bombay, mostly students, to whom Alfred exposed the principles of Kalos and his political thinking.

Alfred de Grazia Bombay 1985 Clarity
Heroic Indian journalism... Wearing a Nehru-hat, Alfred de Grazia in front of the "Clarity" offices in Bombay (Mumbai).

A Word about Rashmi Mayur

Rashmi Mayur 1985 Bombay
Rashmi Mayur, who made his PhD under Alfred at New York University and always called him affectionately his "guru," later founded the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISS) in Mumbai. He was Vice-President of Earth Day International and Director of the World Summit of Sustainable Development 2002. He served as Special Adviser to the President of the 1992 Rio “Earth Summit” (UN Conference on Environment and Development - UNCED). He was also a participant at the August 2002 “Earth Summit” in Johannesburg, but hours only after arriving there, he suffered a massive stroke. For several months, he was kept in an artificial coma at Witwatersrand Johannesburg Hospital, where he was admirably cared for, and his sister Khumud Ini did not move from his bedsite. He was later transferred to the Maryland suburb of Washington D.C., where she was then living. He asked to return to Mumbai and died there on February 4th, 2004.