I was 11 when I first saw the slums, looking out of my plane from Bombay, having been sent to stay with family for six weeks in Pondicherry. I had been kept reasonably insulated from poverty in India which was harsh at the time, frightening, alien, another world. I remember being shocked and curious that there were houses right next to the runway, surely that was dangerous? Suppose a plane crashed? My dimming memory recalls that the slums were nowhere near as densely packed as they are today, but that could be a ghost, invented, filling a gap…
We ventured into the Muslim and Hindu areas, met saw the new but unfinished apartment buildings that no one wants to live in, had stones thrown at us by a bunch of kids, met some fabulous families who were clearly enthusiastic about being part of India’s economic boom and stood looking onto the airport runway back to where I’d been watching in 1984.
And to 2007, Slumdog Millionaire causes a storm at the London Film Festival, I’m dying to see it and finally catch it just before New Year. Great film, great place. Captures the flavour perfectly. And pretty much everyone seems to agree. I hear there are slum tours of Dharavi now.
The original story: Welcome to Dharavi coming back soon.