Now you may think one more cliché attempt by the photographer or blogger to write about ” Dharavi”- and show how Mumbai is filled with poverty and deprived citizens.
And here is the change in thinking, which was supported by the Author of latest book Poor Little Rich Slum– Rashmi Bansal (Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, Connect the Dots and I Have a Dream) and the Blogadda team over a Sunday where Dharavi walk was guided by Be the local. Their idea behind calling around 15 bloggers for this walk is not to show the poverty line of this slum but the importance of living in an artistic way with what is available . World’s most populated slum “Dharavi” is 20 times more dense than the city of Mumbai .Density of population in Mumbai is 30,000 per sqr.km while in dharavi it is 5,70,000 per sqr.km. Not only this place is for living but there are many industries whose turnover is more than even Rs100 Crore.
The entire schedule started with small breakfast for us ..who woke up with the spirit to attend this walk and create a difference by being part of the smiles on these faces “make a change” people. The walk was guided by Fahim, Tauseef and Salman from Be the Local Tours who are proud residents of Dharavi with their vision “to offer unique experiences to tourists who want to experience ‘the other half of the city’ BUT “through the eyes of a local” .
The eye-opening journey started from the industrial part of Dharavi where all small scale industries form the pillar of all those big companies into garments, plastics , etc; I have always wonder that Mumbai produces so much plastic everyday , but where does it go as you cannot dispose it of. Here is the site, every buyer and seller should see, before purchasing those shopping plastic bags, small plastic item during house parties, etc. Plastic is collected by the rag picker from the city and they sell it to the scrap dealer in the respective area, those scrap dealers bring it over here. They first sort plastic according to color and quality and then it is crushed in machine followed by washing small pieces of plastic which is dried on the roof top. Then the dried plastic is melted and small pallets of plastic is formed which is then used to make different kind of plastic product. So now the motto of this description was to make my readers aware to “Stop Using Plastics “.
Then comes the recycling of aluminium, crushed aluminum is melted in the furnace, which is then poured in moulds to form cubes of aluminium, which is used as raw material to make new aluminum product. The site of seeing the workers working in conditions where there is no safety made me wonder for my office cabin. We crib even if we do not have more space to move around and these workers work in microscopic place to survive the daily bread.
Later came across the stitching of the garments, where I was spellbound to see shirts which very much looked like the once bought from the mall or any other large establishments. Faheem mentioned that many large establishments get their garments stitched here but the identity is disclosed. That reminded me of my visit to Italy, that I was almost going to spend on buying a Woodland Tshirt for about 19 Euros. Just when it was about to get billed I saw a tag ” Made in India “.
Every scrap we throw away has some value at this 1.7sq.km place in different recycle form.Even those Veg oil containers are also re- cycle, they are brought from restaurant, shop, home etc from around the city. Using detergent water they wash and rinse it also remove the print, then if not in shape bang it into shape and fix the leakage if any and they are ready to use.
Dharavi workers teaches us to be self-sufficient. and struggle with smile and make diversified difference to family. Dharavi may be called a slum but the people are rich in their own way. Little kids would be waiting to get photograph and not for money but only to show their existence and none of them would be knowing how they look some years before as they cant preserve any pictures. Whereas kids from middle and upper family, wouldnt even smile at you when you interact with them and are generally snobbish.
Ever heard your mother saying that from tomorrow , you would be staying in 10×10 feet room as we do not have enough money? No, right ! But these families with average size of 4 to 6 stays in a room where to move feet or hand needs to be given thought . Lanes smaller than Kareena’s 0 Size, no hope of sunlight in the house or the lanes and the dumping ground view from the room main door. Still chirpy voices of kids playing, floors neat and clean and the utensils sparkling like mirrors. Spirit to live happily is their motto of life.
Mumbai has seen many community riots in 1993 and even Gujarat. But this place is diversified in the creating example of Muslims craftsmen building the Shrines of Hindu Temples. This displayed the unity amongst different religion and caste with no barriers. After 1993, there has not been even single occasion of differences in any community. Everybody celebrates their festivals in their way and share with different community.After walking for about 2 hours in the areas of depression, the pretty area of Kumbharwada showed up where the Gujarati community lined up pottery They make amazing pots for Gokul Ashtami and Navatri…. The sights of the earthenware gave me smile.
Taking a break from the long walk, came across the White house of Dharavi. The entire team was awaiting to see the curious place which was talked alot about . To my surprise and even others we came across a Tree House which had white Doves and Pigeons. The glow of creativity in the owners eyes made me take a picture of him.
Roof top or rather the contrast of Dharavi and tall buildings is something more visually different.
Along the walk, Rashmi shared her experiences about the characters from the book and some stories. Here comes Bina Ma’am ,who is a true teacher by profession, she depicts the humanity through knowledge. She started helping weak students who couldnt afford fees by giving free tuitions and today she has a trust to runs a primary school, extra-curricular classes, an old age home – all for the residents of Dharavi. Very sweetly she gifted us handmade diyas, which reminded me of my school days. She showed her teaching area , sitting for students, and I thought to myself that big schools who spend extensively economically should visit here to see how kids from this area make a difference.
Suddenly a lean adult comes and individually shakes hand with each and every person in the class(Bina Mam’s Teaching area ) with great smile. I thought to myself , how many of you actually shake hands when we go in groups or even for meeting. Just sit there with our mobile and start staring at all eyes with absolutely no approachable smile. He is A runaway boy Jameel who is a latin dancer. He hails from Bihar and dancing was his passion .Dancing shoes is something he couldnt afford to buy , his conviction made him start his own dancing shoe making factory and today after starting from scratch, he is the proud supplier to half of the Bollywood superstars and Indian dancing reality shows. Most of the times, I buy expensive shoes to flaunt my sensual womanish style, later I find my shoes parked on the ground and me running with naked heels. Keeping this in mind, Jameel made this amazing soft and comfortable wearing shoes for girls which could make dance longer.
Hearing stories, seeing new achievements made me realize that it was worth missing my Saturday Night Friendship Party and waking up to Sunday Dharavi Walk. Seeing positive souls like Faheem Tauseef and Salman – I made new friends on friendship day . Blogadda team – Nirav Sanghvi ( Founder & CEO, BlogAdda ) Sagarika, Harish and Narayan spend time with us and even in helping to pick up bags while climbing the Roof top . And a special thanks to Rashmi Bansal and team to create an out of the box idea to give a different experience to her book ” Poor Little Rich Slum” which now would connect to me well.
After sharing my experience, I would make a difference to my society in a way that it create a better place to stay, would you also make a difference?
Final thank you to Blogadda team to let me experience this, Ms. Rashmi Bansal and team to create this idea, bloggers for their valuable thoughts and guides Faheem, Tauseef and Salman – Be the local who showed us “Land of opportunities”
PS: Coming soon with Videos over here of the walk.
Hope you guys love this experience the way I did through my pictures and blog.
Be the local for the facts and figures of the place