Tour of Dharavi Slum with guide Dilip Vasu
Depart 10:30am from YMCA | Return 2:30pm to YMCA
We experienced an amazing tour of the slum Dharavi today. We walked through parts of it, met with many of the people working and going about their usual daily activities. We were grateful to go inside the home of some friends of our English speaking guide Dilip, and sit down in their slum home with members of their family and enjoy a chai while meeting all three generations of family members.
It’s really hard to explain the feeling we got from visiting the slum. So many of our preconceived views were true, so many of them not. But based on our visit, we can see that it is a very impoverished area, with all types of people within the slum precinct. Some families have been living in their homes for over 100 years – generation after generation. I think it might be somewhat difficult to get out of its clutches.
Inside the slum is a productive and industrial powerhouse, where goods are made and sold outside its boundaries from leather goods, pottery, fruit and vegetable stalls, candles, jeans, embroidered cloth and dresses, and more. Ash and Dacey purchased a Dharavi branded leather bag each with some Christmas money from grandparents. Food stalls are easily found, and we enjoyed the most delicious flaky naan bread to date in the slum.
We were told to mind our belonging, being watchful for pick pockets but we had no concerns on our half day tour there. We watched school children, young and old, dressed in their school uniforms walk to school along a pathway that overlooked the open sewerage that was fed into a stagnant river below via long pipes. Life went on as usual, and so too does the open sewer.
While we sat inside our slum family’s home, we were welcomed into their space openly. Sure this family most probably gets a cut for their time from the tour operator, but it was an amazing experience to see inside and wander their three story home. We climbed steep staircases and upright workman’s ladders to get from one floor to the other. Three generations of family living together – grandparents, children, and grandchildren. The small children, just 2 years old, climbing up the ladders without a care in the world of falling or losing balance. This is their world, born into it and unafraid of it.
The slum family was trying to work out our family – who were the children and who was the mum (it’s a common theme that I appear younger than someone who has had four children), and being nearly the smallest in the family it’s a difficult guess I suppose for Indians. But they’re all amazed and astonished that we are travelling with our young daughters (once we share their ages) and our wish to meet families across India and for a moment in time be able to appreciate how they live and what they hope for.
Travel is a journey. And we are continually reminded of how grateful we are for this journey we are embarking on with our family.