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Dharavi: A long journey of Mumbai’s Hope and Despair

Some things come to you from much unexpected places. Read to learn how a stroll in the largest slum in the world changed my view towards life.

 

While you move in the Sion-Bandra Link, take a left to Sant Rohidas Marg. What you will witness is a locality that is one of the largest slums of the World. A mirror to the picture of India, Dharavi is one of the places which very well known to most of the Mumbaikaars. I visited the place as a part of one of our college project. The experience that I had is worth sharing.

We got out of our vehicle as we thought that touring the surroundings on feet would be easier. As we proceeded along the dingy by lanes of the place, it felt like visiting the characters in the film Slumdog Millionaire. One of my friends asked “What moves this place? There is no sanitation facilities, no proper roads, it’s just some pukka houses.” As we moved along the road we found a group of men sitting and chatting up below a tree. The plastic chairs on which they sat had marks of broken pieces in its handle. Probably, someone would have brought them years back. On asking them about the neighborhood one of them replied “Everything is available here” in a broken Hindi with a deep Marathi accent. The men worked in the shops nearby. One of them worked in the tannery nearby. “We often sit and chat up on holidays only” remarked another man as he got up to go to the sabzi market nearby. After he left, the other one confessed that they were all unemployed, searching for work. Some of them worked in local shops where there parents worked too for a meagre sum of money. ‘Disguised Unemployment is not limited to agriculture’ is something my civics teacher had said me in my school days. Now I was seeing this in real.

We decided to walk on. Just as we had moved a few steps we saw a little girl with a school bag coming out from her home. We decided to followed her and start a conversation with her. Jumping over little pass ways which were used for multiple purposes by people from washing clothes to playing caroms, the girl proceeded to a masjid which she called her school. On asking about what she wants to become she pointed to a boy dancing in a reality shows on one of the channels and said “I want to a dancing star like him.” Most of the teaching at primary levels here happen in local municipality schools or Madrasas said a shopkeeper who sold stationary near the Madrasa.

As we wrapped up our walk and returned we had probably known the answer to the question. Beyond the not plastered walls, small dingy rooms, primeval state of living of humans and animals together, lack of toilets, proper sanitation facilities there was something that has kept this place moving forward from 1922. It is the Hope of a better tomorrow.

 

Srivedant Kar

srivedantk@dubeat.com




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