Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

︎ Info
︎ Contact
︎ Instagram

Notes from Wonderland

When I first visited Kodaikanal it was because I was following the trail of the UFOs that had been sighted in India over the past 50 years. At the time, I had no idea what was going on in that part of India. But somehow, I could sense there was something different about this place and the people here.


Kodaikanal is a hill station located in the southern part of India. The beauty of the place masks its mercury contamination and environmental disasters. A thermometer factory has contaminated the landscape and its inhabitants.


I used to stay on a hill opposite to the factory. Every morning I would drink my coffee on my way to the factory. It was a good 25-30 minutes-walk. You go down one hill and climb up another to reach the Unilever thermometer factory.


Yes, the factory still stands there with security and cameras guarding the complex. The La Saleth Church is situated right beside the poisoned grounds of the factory. This church attracts a lot of tourists visiting the hill station. People come, pray, photograph and go back not knowing what the factory has done to the families who dwell on St. Mary’s road and those associated with the factory.


Mercury is a very mysterious metal.

It seems as if all these people of the hill were so seduced by the money and materiality of the evil deal that they left their happy lives of mending forests and farms to work in this factory making thermometers to be exported to European countries. The people have given up all hope.

My friend Ebhi showed me around. He was also associated to the factory as an electrician. He has severe headaches which go on for three days where he keeps himself locked in a dark room. He also avoids leaving the house at night because he has night blindness.

His parents both worked in the factory as well. Even after compensations were given to the EX-Workers Association of the factory, Ebhi’s family have yet to be compensated.

The families have given up all hope.

There are no medical institutions around that are equipped to treat people with mercury poisoning.

What happened to this valley is very sinister.


Mercury is a poisonous metal which was discharged by the factory as mercuric fumes through the exhaust fans and as mercury laced glass which were disposed of without any proper treatment methods. Later the same waste was taken to a nearby junkyard where it was recycled into marbles and bangles to be sold back to the people of the hill.

The workers were never given information about how to handle mercury. Nor were they given any kind of protective gear. They were also never told how to clean themselves before leaving the factory. Mercury would stick to them in the ridges of their palms and even on the tips of their moustache. They would subsequently carry the mercury back home unknowingly.

At home, the workers would greet their kids and make love to their wife, contaminating them also without realising. This kept happening between 1983-2000 affecting a population of 30,000. Then the factory finally had to shut down because of the number of deaths recorded.


When I began my project, the problem I faced the most was the fact that the contamination was so invisible.

And the fact that the beauty of the place masks its mercury contamination and environmental disasters.

But then it felt similar to when I was following the UFO trails when I first visited Kodaikanal – more invisibility

The fact is that mercury poising can be felt but not seen.


Cinnabar- the most prominent ore of mercury was used by painters in ancient times for its colour red. It has been discovered that this red turns black as it degrades over time.

Saha is a Bombay-based visual artist who works with photography, illustration, animation and narrative stories. His projects are often community-based, and his varying interests include the power of landscape to witness, folk tales, conspiracy theories and UFO sightings.