The most emmotinally draining, though provoking amd tear jurking place i have ever visited. Potentially the most influential place i have been in terms of really challenging your own perceptions of poverty, misfortune and human decency.
Individuals living in central divisions in the road, people living on roadabouts, three generations of a family living under bridges.
Babies hanging from material attached to lamp posts, parents sorting through mountains of rubbish and human waste, trying to find anything remotely valuable or re-sellable.
Fathers with minmal clothing looking after children with no clothing while their starving mum lies motionless on the streets where they 'live'.
The stench of the mountains of rubbish people use as beds under tarpulin, moving with infestations of animals that roam underneath.
Blankets of mosquitoes hovering over the stangnant waste which sits in huge puddles dividing slums made of cardboard and metal sheets.
A nine year old boys holding the hand of his five year old sister while she carries the body of their baby sibling on her back. All hardly clothed. All filthy. All begging for food to eat so they can live another day.
This is poverty. This is misfortune. This makes you feel ashamed to ever moan about your life
But you look closer, and the family under the bridge are laughing and sharing stories
The elders and playing games with the young ones and teaching them.
The people on the streets are helping one another mantain their 'homes' and sweep the street filth away and back onto the roads.
The individuals with fabrics are making clothing for those with nothing to wear.
The lucky ones with food are boiling pots and pans and handing out rice on paper for those who are hungry.
This is community. This is sharing. This makes you ashamed to pass judgement on the people you see.
The ground below their feet is crumbling but the spirit and craving to be a decent person is so strong.
There is more to Mumbai than just the slums and poverty, there is also a huge budding business centre and entrepreneurs wearing Armani and talking into their iphones. A great deal of money exists in mombai, it is just held by such a minority.
There are 16.5 million people who live in Mumbai. Around 55% live in Slums. Over 5,000,000 live in Dharavi slums alone!
The financial devide is so evident in Mumbai. I still cant get my head around it. It is something that will haunt me for a long time.
We got on rickshaws and explored the city, we visited the sights, the grand buildings, the local hang outs, the city beaches, but i think the images of poverty will be the things we remember.
The city stinks, the streets are filthy and it is truly like two worlds living together, walking side by side. Those with and those without.
It all just made me question, what is it that we all crave to have, and are we craving fulfillment in the right areas? Does money make you happy or does human decency fulfill you in a way that money never could?
Money makes things easier, that is for sure. But with ease comes complacency.
The rich people were clean and had swanky suits. The poor people were filthy but had huge smiles.
A pretty full on blog for Mumbai! But its just that sort of place i suppose. This is exactly the reason i wanted to come to India and im sure when we leave, we will reflect on what we have seen for many many years to come.
We head north next, to Rajasthan. First stop Jaipur.
Lots of old Forts and Royal Maharaja buildings to visit in the hot and dry desert lands. A very different India!
Peace and Povery
Nic and Katherine xx