Dharavi is no longer only Asia's largest slum, but is turning into the most visited western tourist spot as well. All of the Mumbai darshan (city tour) companies have included Dharavi on their routine tours. Dharavi has gained eminence among the various famous celebrity homes and monuments of Mumbai.
With all of the locations discovered and rediscovered both on land and underwater, the Indian tourism industry is now moving towards displaying the real essence of Mumbai. Slum Tourism in Dharavi was instigated about two years ago, and now, it is spreading overwhelmingly.
Raju, who runs a tea shop, says Dharavi cannot be judged by its appearance. "Till tourists don't visit us, how will they know about us. It's important to know how and what we are doing even in the sordid housing conditions".
Slum tours, which are cheap on the pocket yet ensure a memorable experience, are the biggest attractions among foreign and regional tourists . There are various packages starting from US$ 10(400 Rupees) each to US$130 (5,400 Rupees) for 5 people.
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The core founder of Reality Tours, Krishna, says Dharavi for an average Mumbaikar iconizes grim poverty. The latest Slum touring fad is, however, changing notions. "Dharavi, Asia's biggest slum, has loads of precious mines and we at Reality Tours and Travels flaunt these hidden souvenirs among tiny lanes bound with sturdy visions and aims."
Krishna also added, "We at Reality Tours don't want tourists or suburbs to be exploited so we abide to our strict codes of No tips policy. Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionnaire portrayed, Dharavi sunk in the eyes of poverty and misery we aim to show our tourists the richness and crude businesses, which shelter peace and livelihood.
Reality Tours is a travel agency owned by Krishna Poojari and Chris Way which is established totally for the welfare of Dharavi and glorify its spirit and abundant cottage industries. All the guides are inhabitants of Dharavi who know every nook and corner and have an excellent command over English and explain in detail, how people of Dharavi cherish their lives.
Every tour group has maximum 6 members accompanied by two guides with an extended walk of three and half hours. People on the tour cannot wish they could trap every moment of their stay at Dharavi.
Jessica from Paraguay on the tour says "I am moved by their spirit of sheltering traditional cottage industries, although they lack hygiene proper aids can make these cottage industries more vital".
Alex from Canada says I have been on this tour two times agrees people of Dharavi are poor but just at infrastructure surplus with creativity and constant achieving visions.
With Slum tourism gearing up in all parts of the world poor areas and sordid dwellings are now attaining fame. Dharavi in Mumbai is at top of the list with the name and fame it achieved by its reel appearance in Danny Boyles "Slumdog Millionnaire". Slum tours are aiming at the real-time sneak peek which is a lifetime experience for every tourist.
With regular aid and support coming from non-government organizations slum tourism slants towards showcasing the various abilities and resourceful ideas, of recycling commercial as well as household waste. Persistent slum tours are actively encouraging residents, to attain regular livelihood by selling various souvenirs. Tours also are making efforts to put their profits back into the slums, to improve community standards.
Dharavi generates 665million dollars
Dharavi is an undiscovered industrial mine, with more than 100 small scale industries hidden in the centre of Mumbai. It is a nuclear economy generating village which lacks aid. Dharavi stretches over 530 acres land where people and businesses are cluttered in shanty frameworks.
Jonny Joseph, president of the Dharavi traders Union said "Although our businesses may seem small and crude yet we generate the revenue similar to big garment factories. Most of our profit comes from exporting the garments, cheap labour and minimal overheads are added incentives".
Dharavi is renowned as Asia's biggest slum among Mumbai's most wavering location, yet shelters more than half of its population. Dharavi generates 665million dollars annually within its 4,902 industrial units that manufacture products like ceramics, leather items, tapestry, iron nails-screw drivers, denim pants and many more which are distributed locally as well as globally.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Dharavi is sandwiched between two rail routes which make it the ideal industrial location which allows easy transportation of commodities to reach markets. It also shelters abundant fishing grounds towards the creek and shanty mushrooming tapestry industry.
Javed Malik , who has three leather tanneries said "With the changing generations majority of the businesses are shifting to new locations but the potters and leather tanners have ample space only in Dharavi", who has lived in Dharavi since 80 years. Dharavi Bachao Samiti president Raju Korde said "Dharavi, its location and people are the main pillars that foster small scale industries, but with Dharavi, re-development there is no provision for businesses. Which means the businessman of Dharavi will again face injustice and unemployment and the big business hub will shatter ".
Dharavi turns Organic
Dharavi finally makes it web presence without any governmental agendas www.dharavri.org took form by efforts of a non-profit organization URBZ. URBZ works for the betterment of urban areas with implementation of modern technology. The website www.dharavi.org was started by Matias and Rahul Sharma jointly in a Dharavi welfare scheme organized by the URBZ team.
In today's tech savvy generation everything rests on Internet from shopping to networking. Asia's biggest slum too has its share in the globalizing concept. Dharavi.organic is just the right step which has given Dharavi not just a presence on the web but a forum through which local people can interact and share experiences.
"The website uses Administrators so that every information is verified and then uploaded to make it credible" says Rahul Sharma Co-founder.
Rahul and his team have attributed and analyzed latest web trends and attached blogs to make the website a frequent archive for students and researchers on Dharavi.
Rahul Sharma founder of URBZ stated "The urge to make Dharavi known to the all gave birth to Dharavi.organic". URBZ is an association which works towards betterment of cities neighbourhoods and helping in producing generating and instigating ideas within individuals.
Dharvi.organic is the outcome of a small project which aimed at providing a mouth piece to Dharavi and its vicinity. The website uses 'Mind Touch Enterprise Collaborative Networks' which is San Diego based startup tool"(sever platform).
Dharavi organic is an attempt to connect Dharavi to the world and distribute all the facets behind its existence.
Matias Echano and Nishit Shah cater the System Administration of Dharavi organic stated "Dharavi.organic is a website similar to the Wikipedia patterns which archives images and data on Dharavi which is regularly updated, the site also allows access to various research, project archives to share knowledge".
The website is a platform which allows local dwellers to share the insights of the locality they live and evade people's perceptions. It allows freedom of opinions and welcomes various viewpoints, it also fosters easy access to attain and share information.
Also there is freedom of speech to avoid communication barriers information can be written in English, Hindi and Marathi.
Janaki author of Mumbai Magic blog says Dharavi organic is a medium which collates Mumbai and all its pieces together. It is the best platform for a stranger to know details and well researched facts about Dharavi at one stop.
"We are Perfectionists"
Every postman of Dharavi delivers not just post but ensures accuracy too.
Accuracy we deliver says B S Jaiswar post master at Dharavi post office. He also added with so much clutter we have made our own signs and landmarks and we seldom mislead but with 25 kilometers area zones crafted we have undermined every nook and corner of Dharavi.
Dharavi is an urban junkyard with gallons of recycle-waste collected on every roof top, houses without flat names, every house has two-three floored elevations, sturdy entry and exit lanes with open sewage outlets and plenty of live wires hanging along roadside. But even in this clutter there is no room for misplacement of any post.
Entangled amidst tiny gullies (lanes) and vague landmarks reaching the addresses assigned is a tough call. More than 1000 letters, speed posts, parcels and money orders are delivered daily without any misplacement says B S Jaiswar, post master at Dharavi Post office.
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Jaiswar also added our staff in Dharavi is appointed on how they know and understand the locality, residents are most preferred. Jairam Lele, postman 28 years says "As most of the addresses are names of people or vague landmarks like Arundhati Nayak c/o Chaurasia Pan Shop (local beetle leaf seller) makes it tedious but every postman has a 25kilometres boundary it takes few months to know the vicinity and people.Shrinivas Jagtap, postman says apart from just delivering the post we even connect to varied cultures and communities Dharavi shelters.
Sunken in the mines of Dharavi postmen chip through addresses wearing smile and content with rigor on mind. With all the limelight given to its dwellers and businesses the postmen of Dharavi just bag fading eminence.
No more mud-pod "Dharavi"
Dharavi's Kumbharwada potters have been producing pots since generations. Changing vertical settlements plans are aiming to wipe out the wheels of their lives.
The iPod generation, has struck Dharavi too. With the pottery business entering in new generations the business is sinking its identity and the redevelopment is favored by the youth . Mayur (name changed) the youngest potter of Dharavi says we adore the I-pod more than these mud pods. If this area redevelops we will have a good house and reputation and no one will say "oh you stay in Dharavi and reject giving us jobs or loans".
Mayur also added although it has the same thumb wheel application but today nothing pays in this business, everything works of technology and we can't afford it. I have seen my parents and grandparents all making mud pods , but now times are changing majority of the youth want to be educated and work in high paid jobs not retain traditional businesses and pinching profits.
Dharavi means loose soil in Tamil and we are its shapers says Jitesh Mehta.
Dharavi cherished home and adjacent workspaces but the gearing up re-development project has no such provision. The proposal allocates space for residential and shopping mall with latest amenities side lining plans for ancestral businesses of Dharavi. The project aims to wipe out the pottery business in Kumbharwada, which stretches 13 acres of land sheltering 385 families. Daily 70% mud pots and diyas are made in Kumbharwada - sold in and around Mumbai the business employs 2,000 workers who shape the mud on wheels, bake them on furnaces and sell them to markets.
Raghu bhai renowned potter says we cannot force the young generation to preserve the tradition but I believe pottery is an art and our children will turn back someday. I am not so educated but proudly master pottery and hold seminars and workshops for various Art colleges in Mumbai. Kumbharwada exists since 100years and serves livelihood for thousands of families. Jitesh bhai oldest member of the clan says "Dharavi is world famous for its pottery and a redevelopment project will finish everything and make hundreds of families unemployed which will sooner foster another slum with just a change in location"
Ranchor Das also added Dharavi is a sheltered traditional civilization, its people are thriving to protect ancestral businesses in this fast moving world. Redevelopment means destroying Dharavi and its real essence in the race of commercialization.
Kumbhars or potters living in Kumbharwada (also known as potters colony) carried from generation to generation. But the government should let it evolve, and not impose a development plan. Every resident of Kumbharwada wants the art of pottery production to excel around the world. The changing generation and development plans do not foresee how many people will be unemployed, however some will move to another place to set up another similar settlement.
Raju Korde, of Dharavi Bachao Samiti says Dharavi and the Kumbhars are hoping for aid from government for infrastructure than redeveloping and destroying the existent business mines with every dawn Dharavi hopes to protect its fading businesses and revive methods to rejuvenate newer trends and controlling pollution.
Like other rappers, we don't drink, smoke or shoot up
In a city where rock bands and western culture attain immense popularity and fame, the rappers from Dharavi are striving for identity. The boy band Sout Dandy Squad.
Dharavi has a huge Tamil population, and the majority of these rappers belong to the community. They call themselves Sout Dandy "South is where we come from, and we are dandy meaning excessively concerned about clothes and appearance to be the best" says Rau (Surya). Although the boys follow simplicity but fancy trendy names like international rappers Sean (Suresh Agalianbose), ML (Rahul), Rau (Surya), MO (Manoharan), Havoc (Kanakaraj) and Raze (Kamaraj).
"Rap till I die/step up and fly/ waving ur ma/distinguish and celebrate/multiculture and cooperate/ they call me Tamilian/and that's how I operate." says Sean humming his favorites lyrics.
The Squad use "Tamil electro music" as a medium to convey their views on social issues of India .Their inspiration and existence is the 'D block' (Dharavi) .The Sout Dandy Squad are well equipped DJs and perform graceful hip-hop and krump.
Sout Dandy raps in English and Tamil. They believe like every other music form has its time and generation India now calls for "rap". Apart for rapping the boys aspire professional careers too. One of them is a Masters in Chattered Accountancy (MCA) student while others work in firms as administrative staff and call centre representatives.
With the limelight attained after Danny Boyles "Slum Dog Millionaire" Black Eyed Peas remixed one song in their album Elefunk, which they claim to be their biggest achievement. Another feather in their cap was their last year, live stage performance with members of international Timbaland Productions and Apache Indian. They've also contributed music to the movie "Quick Gun Murugun".
The band iconize "American gangsta rap" which convey the problems of their country through music. They aim to strike the same chords Sean says. Our lyrics focus mainly our experiences and lives, beliefs living in Dharavi
Raze said "We make all the music in our tiny not so well equipped studio at Kandivali with our native instruments and music software our latest composed 10 original tunes are just in the production stage which is has bilingual lyrics Tamil-English titled "Respect or Hate". Our constant urge is to keep creating new styles says ML.
With constant efforts and changing with the boy band is rewarded with financial aid from various non-government organization after 'Slumdog Millionaire.' With more aid coming in the band aims to set-up well equipped studio and create more music tracks.
No more "Mall"
Dharavi's first shopping center-Badshah Mall has never opened after its construction. The spacious four storied structure did not even sell shop units since almost a year.
Inspite of the central location of the Mall around the 90 feet round, the mall units had no commercial buyers. Badshah mall was one of the major attractions in the Dharavi development plans and with its failure other such plans are also at stake.
Although Real Estate makes Dharavi popular in the Global market but the retailers are not ready to hit the ground. Inspite of the overcrowding the retail market does not want to plunge in Dharavi, because of the constant changing Government rules, models and allotment criteria.
Mukesh Mehta, contractor who designed the structure said "we predicted that Dharavi is not yet ready for shopping malls but we expected at least we will be supported by local shopkeepers struggling for space, however time will come we just need some more patience". In order to attract shopkeepers we have reduced the shop units to a more affordable price of Rs.150 flat rate per square feet area.
Mr. Ansari, property owner and constructor said "once the government gives a verdict on its Slum Rehabilitation Authority plan (SRA) then retailers will follow the crowd.
Until then it is a big question mark for the builder whether the Badshah Mall becomes a mile stone in the history of development of Dharavi or will be a monument to be cherished.
Dharavi makes way to Harvard business school
Harvard Business School has designed a structure to analyse and study Dharavi well known as the Asia's largest slum. Harvard business school aims to shed light on the wealthiest locality of Mumbai hidden into shanty shafts.
The case study is titled 'Dharavi: Developing Asia's Largest Slum', which elucidates facts about Dharavi, its birth and also traces the constant ongoing struggle to be illegible to receive proper housing facilities.
Lakshmi Iyer, assistant professor lecturer at Harvard business school (HBS) said "Dharavi is an example within the slums of India- thrive enormous potentials ".
Medha Somaiya, founder and co-ordinator of Centre for slum studies (CSS) at Mumbai University said "Slum dwellers of Dharavi are very sane in business strategies as 700,000 people live on 551 acres also including business units. Although the growth is thriving but well organized and profit making businesses. Dharavi indeed is a great study area to know India's slums do not just mean under-belly poverty, but viable businesses too".
Niraj Hatekar, Economist and Professor at Mumbai University said "Dharavi has attained global identity with the appreciation of Danny Boyle's movie which is one of the reasons for current sudden increase in population and inspite of several attempts the government cannot strike a deal which profits both".
The case study examines the concerns about why, how and whether the slum needs redeveloped also discusses who should do the development government, private sector or just zones separated in larger and smaller chunks. The main issue targeted is to know the exact time frame to carry out the project model, which sets examples for future projects.
Namrata Arora, a research associate at the HBS India Research Center, said "The case highlights the different models of Business and Housing in a urban developing country. Dharavi properties have more value but along with the dwellers both government and private developers demand a fair share that is the sole argument".
Prof .Trumbull said " I discussed the case study last December as a part of the elective course on Managing International Trade and Investment. Of The issue was fascinating must most of the students had both supportive and against viewpoints.
(search for student names at hbs ) said "Analyzing a slum to trace business and economic strategies seemed absurd but Dharavi is the best example which brings students in contact with numerous realities and challenges. Knowing such things exist even today and people are so bold to face such situations is awesome".
"Occupation of profits"
Young children with hungry eyes mud drenched clothes and limbs plastered with dirt covered bandages, is the common site around traffic signals, trains and various public parks, restaurants across Mumbai. Are they really injured? Was there any accident? It stand's a big question.
Apart from being the industrial hub the glimpse city of Mumbai breeds thousands of beggars. The over-crowding population and scarce resources force millions of youth to turn towards beggary.
"No cost No loss profession" says Aslam, 12 who earns around 40Rs. per day near the Matunga Sion road junction alongside Dharavi.
Since the release of Danny Boyles "Slum dog Millionaire" there has been an outrage about young children begging across streets of Mumbai depicting the underbelly of poverty mushrooming in Dharavi Asia's largest slum.
Suresh Jagtap, caretaker of Dharavi Street children centre at Churchgate said "Hundreds of children between the age group of 7 to 16 years are the main prey to beggar mafia in Mumbai. Earlier young children were victims but now new born children are abducted from hospitals and traded in Dharavi." Suresh adds Slumdog Millionaire conveys an intense scene which very well depicts how young futures are curbed in minutes into this trade of beggary.
Javed Ahmed (name changed) 13 says I came to Mumbai from Faridabad (Delhi) to Mumbai in a train after a fight with by parents and never even imagined to have such a miserable life forever. Javed's legs had been amputed days after he moved in home at Sion area in Dharavi. Javed adds "I don't remember how and when it happened one morning I got up and I was in a hospital I fear someday they will kill me overnight so I listened to whatever they said". Just like Javed the street children's centre shelters 2000 young girls and boys who were forced beggars by circumstances or tricked by crooks .
Radhika Iyer (name changed) resident of Dharavi along the Mahim- Sion rail junction says "I lock my children at home when I go to do household work in nearby buildings, I have seen so many children abducted I don't want too take any chances".
Jitendra Karnik, staff member of Dharavi Bachao Samiti a local non- government organization says " We have thousands of cases registered in police records around Dharavi no one gets severe punishments due to lack of evidence."
The chaotic city of Mumbai is India's largest city where more than nine million live in slums, raising families in shacks built on footpaths.
Ganesh,15 a rescued victim at Dharavi Street children centre said "I was travelling on a train in Madras and next morning I woke up in Mumbai with struggling to even get up on my own and unknowingly pushed in this body trade were hunger pangs and misery vanishes in the shine of coins."Ganesh adds beggars in Mumbai follow a huge network which is operated by the mafia gangs around Dharavi. These gangs approach mostly young children from slums or homeless, run away or abducted from Mumbai and various cities then their limbs, eyes are deliberately crippled to attain sympathy from people and earn extra money.
Arundhati, member of Pukaar foundation (non- government organization) says " Children are slaughtered like animals and left half alive in this profession, later these kids become goons so children must be protected more by families and orphans must be dealt with more vigilance.
Salman (name changed) said "Every area has a Master who collects the earnings from every kid and then distributes a small share out from the chunk. We do not want to betray our master inspite of ill-treatment as he supplies us solvents, alcohol and charras (hashish)." Before even knowing what a profession is young futures are devastated everyday along the streets of Mumbai which is the real truth that many Film-makers have captured on the reel screen, yet there are no measures to save the tomorrows of many young children trapped into the vicious trade daily.
Real "Victim" of Dharavi
"My strategy and resources cannot be put at stake as the government decisions delay more" said Mukesh Mehta, the architect behind Dharavi re-development plan. It has been more than fourteen years and the situation stands at the same shore". Originally the Dharavi bid and the redevelopment was scheduled to take place since 1996 as per the Slum Rehabilitation Association, but constant delays in decision have led to the current scenario where several deals and proposals are present on the paper with no verdict about when the payments will start for the project to Mukesh Mehta the main authority on the construction plan.
The area shelters around 300,000 residents and thousands of small scale industrial units. After the Slumdog Millionaire limelight the shanty town is accused with enormous delays with the recent sobriquet - Largest Slum rehabilitation project in the eyes of not just Indian but investors glued to have a property share. The initial cost fourteen years back was around Rs.9, 000 crore which has now reached to RS.15,000 crore.
So many years have made the people also feel will the project actually start. "Initial delays were justified we did not want to leave the land but now with all the provisions granted and people willing to support the government uses the laidback tone" said Jagdish Nilawe, resident around the 90 feet round junction.
"The project has amended several new structures but there is no news when and how will I be paid or what if still delays occur" said furious Mukesh Mehta.
However with the changing tones government has amended past payment delays with Mr. Mehta by promising an ad-hoc payment of Rs 1.4 crore which is the prime condition of the new planned structure contract.
Under the Government Resolution (GR) of Dharavi Redevelopment
Authority (DRA) the state government has decided to pay the sum of Rs.1.4 crore to Mr. Mehta's- M M Project Consultants. The GR also plans appointment of an arbitrator to resolve any monetary concerns between DRA and M M Consultants.
The Dharavi project looks attractive for all from the outside but Mukesh Mehta has been striving for it since years facing stagnant decision times and critics blaming for scam which has kept him held back yet to the project.
Raju Korde, member of Dharavi Bachao Samiti said "the game is really getting tough yet the man does not want to let go of Dharavi, this clearly states that more gains and we get just pinch of the actual piece".
However the Government seems supportive towards Mr. Mehta, by allotting him as the main consultant of the project in the Global tender, which will allow various foreign investors to pool in interests in the project. Aryan Jagtap (name changed) said Government has planned to sell 40 million square feet land which will be segregated into both commercial and residential zones also provisions to school and Medical units.
Story : 11
where is my "snack"made?
Different types of spicy and diet savouries, banana chips, fried peanuts and crispy chaklis(spicy circles made of rice flour that turn into wheels) and many other varieties of south Indian fresh snacks that we enjoy as pastime while watching television or outing with family are often made in Dharavi. As the ghetto provides ample space, cheap labour with minimal overheads maximum profits and easy transporation.
According to Dharavi Food Productm manufacturers Welfare Association, Dharavi ranks first in the world for producing tasty, varieties of home made snacks. The production units in Dharavi produces more than 1 lakh kg of savouries, crisps (fried chips made of raw bananas, sweet potatoes, dried jackfruit)daily with an annual turnover estimated between Rs 70 crore and Rs 80 crore with no tax as the businesses fall under the social economic zone (SEZ).
A Dharavi-manufactured product is sold several times in the market and packaged even multiple times till product may reach the consumer so people never know what they are eating is made in Dharavi"said a local producer. The largest produced snacks are the gram flour fried noodles known as "Farsan" in both spicy and peper flavours which are largely purchased. small time industry attracts Maharashtrians and Gujurati's being native to Mumbai but the owners in this business are not local.
Like the other industries savory industry units are traditional businesses of the Tamil families that came to Mumbaiyears ago in search of work from rural villages of Tamil Nadu and settled into personal businesses. The business however employs majorly women, who work in flexible shifts on traditional small scale production machines and large fry pans.Kartick shetty, owner of A-1 savouries said "there is competition increasing and the thriving business in dharavi does not generate much profit, with the development plan things are becoming more difficult, we are searching for newspace outside the city to move soon".
Chandrashekhar Iyer,owner of Venkatesh savouries said "compared to tanners and potters our units are not causing pollution, so we are looking forward for allotment in the re-development scheme.
After the fluctuating dates and multiple land ownership disputes in Dharavi residential project now is the plan B part of the government plans the re-development of the 'H' block into a spacious sports complex will be first on the agenda list. The 'H' block is under the ownership of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) which ensures no hassles in the mandatory paperwork of the plot" said N U Shrote, State sports director.
Dharavi is a mini town with sections of communities and businesses packed together in the heart of Mumbai. Dilip Rao, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) project contractor said "The 'H' block of Dharavi along the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and close to the Dharavi bus station junction near Mahim Nature Park lies the vacant plot measuring 12427 square metres where the well furbished sports complex will stand".
Mr. Mane (name changed) said " with the design structure tenders taken up construction company will soon start the initial stages of the project . Our company aims to woo people with their creative architectural styles like previous projects". The official company bid and construction company details will be stated by the MMRDA in the press conference next week at the bhoomipoojan (ceremony performed to inaugurate the new construction site where the ground is worshiped and then the project starts)
Mane also added "This project means a lot to us as its success means a tough competition to all the private bidders in the Dharavi Slum Rehabitation Authority (SRA)scheme. The estimated cost of the Complex is around Rs.15 Million".
The Complex is estimated to be a four storied structure with well organized underground parking facility as sanctioned by the MMRDA. The building will have spacious lounge areas, auditorium, swimming pools, restaurants, dormitories and guestrooms. And modern well furbished sports facilities will include open air field courts for hockey, soccer, volleyball and large multiple pitches for cricket coaching. The complex will have special benefits and schemes for Dharavi residents and allow access to non- residents at a nominal entry fee.
Dim lit tables, glass of tea- local buddies and chasing the red puck (rani) is every youngsters pastime along the streets of Dharavi .
After cricket every kid in Dharavi plays Carom. Kubharwada's (potters colony) janta carom club is a local hang out place and the oldest carom club still attracting people like always.
The club began in 1963, initially it had just 12 tables and Rs.3 per game . Shoaib khan , who runs the Janta Carom Club said "We had queues waiting to take over the table as soon as a game was over, and now we have 40 tables and yet the crowd finds the space is small".
Habib Ansari, the owner said "Carom was the most played game in the 1990's every nook and corner served alcohol and carom clubs were the only amusement people resorted to, but with computer and video games children have forgotten the puck chase -hooting for red puck to fall in the pocket and the victory wave inspiring you to give it another go".
Although the carom boards have changed from original sheesham wood to plywood the rates of the game have no effect at Janta. The changing generations are replacing the game with snooker and video game parlours which promise assured monetary rewards.
Story : 14
Food, Shelter and Condom
Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is promoting condoms as the basic necessities of survival.
Sex has been a taboo in India since generations but thousands of cases registered daily of AIDS is demanding attention. After the "Great Mumbai Wall" at Bandra Tulsi pipe road artists hit the sturdy roads along Dharavi. In order to spread awareness across the area Dhanya Pilo and his team painted several spots in Dharavi with paintings depicting Aids with a Bollywood theme.
"We just want to spread awareness and if our creativity helps we don't mind" said Dhanya Pilo, the artist who created several such wall paintings in Bandra North Mumbai.
"Dharavi needs a direction, they have a rich heritage of tradition and rituals we just need to educate the people in their styles" said Meghna support staff of the Acron Foundation trust. Every poster had a Bollywood theme but the message was to reach out to people about HIV Aids and the safety norms. The most liked poster was the Food, shelter and Condom which conveys the importance of condom with the basic necessities of life an initiative to promote safe sex.
Mr. Pawar the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, (BMC) ward officer said "We have installed more than 20 condom machines in the region and have made several attempts to educate them, but this seems the best resort as loads of people are amused by the wall paintings and it gets the message right across".
Nisha Jacob, graffiti artist said "the success of Chapel Road was the start and now we are heading towards various projects. Our main mission is to convey the real Mumbai, its people and social issues".
Vivian, Holy Cross Hospital staff member said "Today's Mumbai demands the different approach and with creativity various artists are making attempts to make it happen, constant efforts will change the concept of taboo about sex and individuals will have an open minded approach.
I am Your "Watchmen"
Majority of the wrestlers Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur form the bulk of the membership of the ten to 15 akhadas that survive in Lower Parel, Dadar and Currey Road. They come to Mumbai to train in the hope of eventually scoring jobs in the railways or the police force. However, most end up working as security guards, drivers or porters.
wrestlers, are forced to take up domestic jobs in security agencies, gymkhanas, cargo loading- unloading staff or residential guards. With the decreasing interest in Akhadas and Kushti the pehelwaans (wrestlers) have no other alternative of earning than part time jobs to gain finances and save the Akhadas.
Akhadas and Kushti (wrestling ring and mud wrestling) are rural conceptions which are fading with the commercialization the last left venues are fighting for its survival. Dharavi's Maruti Akhada was started by Baliram Jaikishan Dhule in the 90's - a famous, national level wrestling champion.
Jaya Karnik, 36 trainers at Maruti Akhada said "The main people coming here were either local youngsters or middle class workers of factories both have better options so numbers are declining.
With the dying tradition of Akhada- Kushti (mud wrestling) the wrestlers are forced to take part time jobs to support their diet and maintain the Akhada.
Vishnu Shinde, national level weight lifter said "I am strong enough to win a championship, but not brave enough to see the Akhada vanish at the cost of development". Maruti Akhada in Dharavi is the last of its kind with a small area behind Kumbharwada. The Akhada has a 300 square feet plot which allocates the traditional mud pit where wrestlers practice. The players wrestle with opponent's in a red clay mud pit, where they push throw and show there muscle power to prove who can overpower the other, with their bodies turning into mud statues.
The wrestlers cannot afford the maintenance anymore and they do not get sponsored also, so the Akhada is becoming worst day by day, Jaya Karnik said "our bodies are suitable for any hardship, we look up to our idols and get motivated but the Akhada will not survive if this continues".
Even though it has been one of the oldest form of sport yet lacks name and fame. The over powering of western sports is killing the sport completely at those people who had been in this sport have nowadays started training in local gymkhanas and they are very well paid so no one wants to stick to strict schedules and codes of Akhadas with no remuneration" said GV Pargaonkar, member of the Bombay Physical Culture Association.
For many of them, the high point of the year comes in March and April, when they travel across the state to participate in tournaments held during village fairs. "You can earn anywhere from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000 at these village fairs," said Ashok Patil. The village fairs are where the big money lies but Mumbai is the source of steady jobs for them. So becoming a wrestler in Mumbai also involves performing a balancing act.