Saturday, April 11, 2009

Celebrate Dharavi

Sometimes, when we fix an image in our minds with relation to a person, word or thing, it becomes difficult to let that go. We may learn of something that is absolutely drastically different from what we know, we may experience something new that is apt to change our former perception, yet we seldom do so. I have always wondered - why?!?
Mumbai, the city of unparalled dreams, the city that never sleeps, the city of countless opportunities, the city with the undying spirit and the city of many other descriptive phrases is home to many such instances where a single experience, or at times, the experiences and perceptions of others, influence us so much that it becomes near difficult to even fathom the existence of a possible other reality.
When one tries to associate the ‘misguided’ perception with any person, place or thing in Mumbai, many instances come to mind. One such place is Dharavi. Situated in the heart of Mumbai, Dharavi is much more than just the slum and filth portrayed in Slumdog Millionaire and as we’ve seen it, or been led to believe it is like, for years.
Not just dirt, poverty and despair, Dharavi is so much more – it is a vision of hope. We are all aware of the number of people living there, of the so called ‘poor and weak’. But how many of us are aware of the number of schools, hospitals and business establishments that exist within the community?
Nothing embodies the true Mumbai spirit the way Dharavi does. A walk through the area will leave you speechless, perhaps a bit overwhelmed with the extent of impoverishment, but definitely flabbergasted at the forever-thriving life. The true undying spirit blooms here. It is astonishing, it is unimaginable, it is real. And this is the true face of Dharavi.
Look beyond the long-accepted notions of despair. Look towards Dharavi with hope. Observe the spirit of a community that only gets associated with negativity, yet shines through with its determination and spirit, paving a path of livelihood and sustenance.
Celebrate Dharavi.

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