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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dharavee - the slums of Mumbai! (Part I)

I remember the day we went to go visit the slums of Dharavee. 
It was January 1, 2012. 
My eldest son Aly had passionately expressed his desires to witness the slums in person and I agreed. 
So with our driver, Ganesh who was a 23 year old guy, quiet, respectful and well-mannered, my sister in law, Zeenat, my youngest son, Zayn, Aly and myself, we took off to go visit Dharavee.

There are numerous make-shift entrances to Dharavee. 
Ganesh, stopped in front of one such entrance as we poured out of our car.
He instructed us to stay close and not venture too far in since we risked getting robbed. 
I was asked not to take my camera but I refused to comply. 
I agreed to travel only with my camera around my neck.

This is what we saw as we stood at one of the makeshift entrances to Dharavee.

As we stood at the entrance of the seemingly never-ending rows of multi-level slums, I felt the flies buzzing around my ankles and the mosquitoes attempting to penetrate my long, terry-cotton skirt which flowed all the way to the ground.
 I could not believe the open sewer line that filled the air with a stench that I find difficult to describe in words. 
Children walked on the narrow bank without any fear of falling into the open gutter and mothers raised their babies in this filth.

We peered into the first slum with a partially open door. 
I asked if I could take pictures of their home and the mother, who was multi-tasking nodded in agreement. 
She was on her cell phone, cooking while the tv was on and her husband and children did their thing.

Being that I was engrossed in taking the pictures, I didn't realize that we were attracting a rather rough crowd of men who were clearly hung-over from partying the night before on New Year's eve.
Zeenat and Ganesh told me to wrap it up and we rushed our boys into the safety of our cars and started to drive away.

We ended up driving around the neighborhood and witnessed first hand the unbelievable way people actually live and yet appear to be content. 
Here are some of the images....

Boys playing barefeet on the side of the road.

Another group of kids clearly engrossed with an insect swimming in the dirty pool of water.

A side street with a few shops selling food, milk, eggs etc.

This man was hungover from the night before. This was around 11:30 am.

Another boy just walking the streets, barefeet. Check out his knees.

Dharavee is known for its many leather workshops. There are many of these "sweatshops" where I'm sure children work for a few dollars a month. These street is lined with shops selling items made of leather.

In Mumbai as in most major cities in India, Hindus and Muslims live, work and celebrate side by side. Check out the boy in the blue "lungi" which is essentially a couple yards of fabric men wrap around their waist. He is sporting a fashionably green collared shirt with flipflops.

Another side street with shops selling snacks such as pani puree, sev puri and paan.

People on their way...I just love this picture of a young mom in a blue saree, wearing a gajra (flower garland) in her long, flowing black hair, as she carries her toddler.

This scrawny dog was picking through the trash falling of this garbage truck.

This is the public restroom in the neigborhood of Dharavee. I pray I never have to go in there.

Check out this image ...just absorb it in....I can't even begin to describe it.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,


  1. Love this! One of my favorites :) Keep doing what you do!

  2. I couldn't imagine myself living like that. So thank you for making me much more thankful for all the little things.