Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dharavi. Woah.

Total area: less than 1 square mile.
Total population: over 1 million people.
Can you even wrap your head around that combination? I still can't. One MILLION people living and working in LESS than ONE square mile. Woah. 

All images via National Geographic
That's what you'll find in Dharavi. As I was saying in the last post, this past Saturday was quite an adventure. Started with a train ride, followed by a little shopping, and ended with a trip to one of the largest slums in Asia. 

I'll go just ahead and say the obligatory "it was unlike anything I have ever seen" rant, but really...it was unlike anything I have ever seen. It was crowded. It was busy. It had it's own unique smell. It was loud.  It was bustling. It was full of trash. It was full of hard workers. There were babies. There were kids playing cricket in a field of garbage. There were Muslims. There were Hindis. There were cabs. There were stares. There were smiles. There were waves. There was everything. Woah. 

Dharavi is special. It is known as the Heart of Mumbai due to it's geographical location in the center of the city. Dharavi is not big in the literal sense, but the amount of work that gets done in that one square mile is unbelievable. It is it's own city with its own businesses, it's own schools, it's own hospital, it's own mailman,  it's own industries, it's own arcade, and it's own nightlife. 

Not only are the residents of Dharavi ready and willing to consume, but they have been for quite some time. Businesses have formed here that could marvel some back home. Garbage, leather, and clay pottery are just a few examples of some of the booming industries in Dharavi -- I could go on and on. Places like Dharavi considered to be at the "bottom of the pyramid" according to C.K. Prahalad may in fact be at the bottom with regards to standard of living, income, health issues, etc., but these things are not necessarily directly correlated to their propensity to consume products and services. Dharavi exports goods to countries all over the world. Pretty impressive.  These places are not just slums. They are communities that live and work together and are completely self-sustaining.  Yes, they may smell awful, and yes they may live in absolutely unthinkable conditions, but they are able to make it work so seamlessly.

I could honestly go on for days talking about Dharavi and what an incredible place it is, but the bottom line is this: they live in conditions that would be unthinkable to the average American, but to them it's the only life they know. They work incredibly hard, love incredibly hard, and laugh incredibly hard. It's an amazing thing to see. We were asked not to take pictures due to the privacy of the individuals that live here so here are a few I found from an article in National Geographic...

1 comment:

  1. i can't even imagine! that doesn't even seem possible. i was waiting for you to report about dharavi..so sad you didn't get pictures, but i understand. so incredible.