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“My Shit Bang” in Dharavi, Mumbai’s Flagship Slum

Dharavi, Mumbai.Photo credit: Chandrashekar (Shekar) Manalam.

Dharavi, Mumbai.
Photo credit: Chandrashekar (Shekar) Manalam.

Shekar led our pack as we crisscrossed the alleyways of Dharavi, which was known as Asia’s largest slum until another zhopadpatti in the Northern suburbs won the dubious title some two years ago.  The narrowness of the walkways, of course shared by pedestrians, motorbikes, children playing cricket and vegetable vendors, belie the grandeur of Dharavi and almost successfully conceals that this 1.7 square kilometer patch of land is home to over one million inhabitants.   The bustling of the place is unmissable: women prepare dough to make bread for export in the U.K., men stitch clothes frantically, potters go at their craft, and cobblers dry leather to be distributed across Mumbai, formerly named Bombay.

Alleyway in Dharavi, Mumbai, India.  Photo credit: Chandrashekar (Shekar) Manalam.

Alleyway in Dharavi, Mumbai, India. Photo credit: Chandrashekar (Shekar) Manalam.

After braving the crowd and witnessing Shekar dodge inquires from at least a dozen curious acquaintances, we finally reached the 22 year-old man’s house.  Immediately, I was impressed with Shekar’s living arrangement. He is the sole occupant this recently revamped first floor room, leaving him with an area of approximately 8×10 ft. to himself – a sheer luxury in a slum where many families have to cram six or seven people in rooms of that size.

When I was deeply absorbed in contemplating his bathroom, a rare and highly prized commodity in Mumbai squatter communities, a massive boom detonated, sending vibrations throughout the room. In shock, I turned around to see Shekar who […] Read more here…