Next stop – Mumbai!
We got a 17 hour train from Hubballi to Mumbai and Nick managed to book the tickets for November instead of October
Thankfully we were the starting point for the train which meant no one was on it and the train fair man helped us out massively. He ran off the train at one of the stops and got us new general tickets which he then upgraded to AC2 class and got us better bunks! 🙂 Such a nice guy. He told us not to leave feedback or tell anyone as he would get into trouble.
Anyway, me and Nick ordered dominoes to our seats and had a really good nights sleep!
We got to our hotel in Mumbai at 10.30am and chilled for a little bit before heading out. We walked around south Mumbai, saw the washerman colonies, the gateway of India, Marine drive (which is like the Miami of India with its art deco buildings) and watched the sunset there.
Mumbai aint that crazy! We quite liked it!
Yesterday, we had a morning in the hotel planning where we are going next (Udaipur, Jaipur and New Delhi) and then we booked on a tour that took us around the slums of Mumbai – Dharavi. It was only me and Nick and our guide, Dev from ‘Reality tours’. It was INCREDIBLE.
The slums of Dharavi. 1 million people living and working in 2.16km squared. 570,000 people per square km. 20 times more dense than Mumbai which is already one of the densest cities in the world. People that live here are Mumbai drivers, domestic workers, garment manufacturers, garbage collectors and office workers. “Without these people, India’s commercial capital would simply cease to function” says Reality tours. Dharavi recycles 80% of mumbais plastic waste. We watched men in tiny huts melting aluminium without masks or safety equipment. Breathing in toxic fumes daily and they would then clear that hut and sleep there overnight in those fumes. Their life expectancy is 50 years old. We stood on a rooftop of one of the huts and looked over Dharavi. Dense doesn’t quite cut it. Dev told us about how the government were trying to build flats to get people out of the slums so they could ‘tidy it up’ and how people want the land to build on as it is ‘prime real estate’ between two major train stations. He told us a few stories which made us understand why these people want to stay here. They have built their own city in Dharavi. Communities, schools, banks, emergency services.
Dev obviously knew his way around and kept swerving down tiny passages “mind your head!”, “watch your step!”, “oops, this side!”.
Passageways were only just wide enough for us to fit and were pitch black as huts built on top of each other blotted out the daylight. We had to duck under pipes and ceilings and the air got hot. It was 3pm and we couldn’t see a thing! Kids were running around our feet and playing hide and seek and doorways were open which showed 10 square metre huts for families of 5.
There are muslims, Hindus, Christians, Immigrants, Locals all living and working together in PEACE. The population speaks more than 30 languages and practices over 6 religions. Most importantly, children are running around happy. They have food, friends and family. Bare minimum AKA just what they need.
3.5 tonnes of food are produced in Dharavi but it is repackaged and “made in…” somewhere else as brands don’t want to be associated with the slums.
Again, children were shouting “Hi” and waving and running up to us and pointing at out piercings, shaking our hands and asking “how are you?” because that is all the English they knew. Friendly, lovely people.
There are many slums in India and in fact all over the world but these people work incredibly hard and risk their lives daily for their families. Politicians are typically useless and corrupt and yet they don’t let that divide them as a community. They help each other out and have built safety in the un-safest of places.
We could learn so much from those people who have so little.