To clarify, it’s not the people who are on crack. But this is the term I decided on today, while I got lost in Mumbai, for people who live in the places which you don’t think people could actually live in (i.e the cracks and crevices of Mumbai), and the people in Mumbai I admire the most.
I love Mumbai for many reasons and I’m finally getting to see the city in the way I want to- with absolutely no plan. I hopped on a random bus in front of my cousins house and I just decided to go for half an hour and get off wherever it took me. It so happened to drop me off at a random area of Chembur. So I started walking around aimlessly, and after 10 minutes I found myself inside a pseudo slum area. And it brought me back to the days I was in college, working in Behrampada– a slum next to Dharavi in Mumbai.
I realized I’m still in awe of Mumbai and Mumbaikers. Especially the people who come here to make it. As I was walking aimlessly around this pseudo slum area (the lanes were wide enough for a car to fit through so that’s why I don’t consider it a mega slum), wherever I turned there were the dark alleyways (basically no more than cracks really- hence the term, hopefully of endearment) that you have to walk sideways through in order to fit. And within each of those cracks I could see doorsteps and house entrances. And I remembered the first time I went into one of those houses in Behrampada, I was shocked at how..NICE the house was inside. By nice, I mean it was incredibly clean and well kept. Definitely not what I expected (which, in retrospect, probably speaks to how sheltered and patronizing I was/probably still am). I think I was impressed by their pride- the pride for the place they call home, the way in which they cared for it, and the way in which they treated anyone who entered their house.
Flashing forward to the present, it made me a little sad that I was no longer a part of that world. I realized I couldn’t wander into those alleyways anymore, because frankly, I am no longer welcome. Honestly, I don’t really know if I ever was, but at least I was lucky enough to see it, and take it all in.
If you are lucky enough to get inside the cracks, I suggest you take the opportunity and cherish it. Its a whole different world in there. Its not better or worse- just…different.
Its a world I still admire and respect.