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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dharavee - The Slums of Mumbai (Part II)

The view from our car.

The kids who live there
So after we rushed to the safety of our cars and started to drive through the streets around Dharavee, we saw this empty shell of what used to be a parcel of storefronts. I asked Ganesh, our driver, to pull over so that I could get a closer look.
As I stepped out of my car with my camera around my neck, Aly followed me. The children who just moments ago were absorbed in their play, were now excited that a car had stopped by their "home
  and that people actually were there to see their space. 
At first, they looked at us kinda shy and curious but once they decided that we were "safe" they opened their streets-side home to us and proudly gave us a tour.

This is their front porch, old cigarettes butts, cow and dog poop, dirt, dust, garbage...not to mention the crazy traffic and smog and sounds of the cars and the honking and strangers walking by their open home.

Just imagine, this is his front yard, back yard, play area, etc...

These old sheets covered the floors determining their home vs the street just steps away.

Their kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and even their bathroom was all in the area under the roof and just on the street in front.There were piles of garbage just lying around in heaps while these large sacks with something in them were stacked against the back wall.
They showed us their pet rabbits and the newborn rabbit babies.

Aly told me not to touch the rabbits or get too close since they had rabies. But these kids proudly held the rabbits up long enough for me to take a few pictures.

Their kitchen just off the street where a makeshift stove made with putting together a few large stones and burning some wood held the pot containing lunch.

These 2 adults were in the middle of preparing lunch. The person in the blue is in fact a man dressed in a saree and obviously living as a woman. He/she was very skeptical of us and never made eye contact. I stayed clear of him and was extremely respectful of them and their home.
So this is a larger picture to put things in perspective. Check out the stove and then the busy traffic on the street just steps away.

Newborn pigs.

The children proudly show off their pet dogs taking an afternoon name under the wooden cart. These are obviously street dogs. Check out the rabbi on top of the cart.

Check out the plastic sheets covering the walls and the bags of stuff (maybe garbage, maybe clothes).

More garbage.

This is one of my favorite pictures from this trip. 

Another favorite...Look at the possibilities in their eyes.

More garbage...

The other side of the space...clothes hanging off a makeshift clothesline

These guys were just kinda hanging around the monkey.

And these kids are barefoot in this filth. 

Almost didn't see this young mother rocking her baby to sleep in a swing made of old sarees.

What will he grow up to be?

There were piles of shreds of colored cloth...

The young men around the pet monkey.

And there was a puppy...

I love animals, especially dogs..but I was conflicted between feeling sorry for the children and /or the puppy...or should I be like the rest of the locals and not feel sorry for either of them...I could just pretend they don't exist.

The little boy proudly shows off the puppy.

Another one of my fav pics.

Aly, my eldest standing between this scene. He's the reason we were even visiting the slums.

And there is a rooster....or a chicken...another pet...

These dishes are just thrown on the dirty ground.

And this woman takes a nap using the large bags as a pillow.

Aly posing with the kids.

More of them join in.

A man selling glass bangles walking by. These bangles are one of the cheapest kinds you can get...Usually less than a dollar for a dozen.

There are some more incredible pics that I will share in another post but these are it for now.
After just the two hours of driving around in Dharavee, 
talking to the street kids,
 taking hundreds of snapshots of life there,
 I was empty inside. 
I remember going to a luncheon right after with about 50 family members 
and sitting there with all my loved ones feeling so sad.
 I just wanted to scream and cry with agony for all that I had just witnessed 
and yet I forced a smile as I swallowed the tears 
and joined the small talk between a buffet of delicious, mouth watering food and freshly made naan and yummy deserts.

Love and Light,
From one sufi to another,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


So as many of you may already know, our latest project is called America's Desi Closet or

The idea is to provide a platform online where we can recycle our gently used or like new desi closets. So with the help of my dad, we started this awesome website, reached out and received our first of many donations from our friends and family members locally and have put in a small fortune to make this why you might ask...
My intention was to modernize helping people. The intention was to provide people who are struggling to make ends meet or are simply saving their funds and don't or can't afford an expensive desi outfit, an option to purchase outfits starting as low as $15.

I have a small group of my REC students and close friends who volunteer their time on Sunday afternoons and during the weekdays to take the pictures and measurements so that I can post these outfits online. I am soooo grateful to all of them. I couldn't do this without their help and support.

 Needless to say, this entire project takes time...a lot of time...and what do i get in return you might ask?
Well nothing yet...and I don' expect any monetary reward either. I just would LOVE to see that people feel better about themselves when they buy a like new outfit to wear.

I am also planning on going back to work as a therapist/social worker in the I'm a little worried about how this is going to continue...
As of now, we have only received donations from within Florida. We need good clothes donated from outside of Florida.
We need people to check out our site...
We need people to refer their friends and family members to us..
We need people to refer the movers and shakers and the helpers and social workers in your communities to our site so that they can connect our target audience to our site.
I would love to see that the site is financially self sufficient.
We need people to buy these doesn't do much if we get the clothes but can't get them out the door..
and if nothing else, we need people, we need you to pray for us...

If any of you are local, and would like to help out, please contact me!!!
I am already feeling overwhelmed and would really appreciate any help.

Sorry i'm totally just venting i'll stop...

I surrender to God....
If this is the right thing for me to continue to do...If you will for me to do this, then make it happen effortlessly...
If not then make it so that we just simply disappear as if we never were...
Either way, I surrender my Lord.
In God I move and breathe and have my being...Ameen



Sending you love and light,
From one sufi to another,