No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune. – Plutarch
I have been in Bombay, all of 6 years now. The one area that always intimidated me in the local geography is Dharavi, which is the most densely populated place on the planet with estimates of about 1 million people living in about 500 acres. Perhaps I allowed what I watched in the movies influence my perception, which in itself is quite stupid. I mean, have you watched Twilight? Werewolves being that hairless in human form?! Pffftttt..
If you look at Dharavi from the outside, it looks scary and chaotic. Once you get in, you see that it isn’t all slums and dirt, poverty and scary looking people/criminals looking to mug you. Agreed, sanitation may not be anywhere close to tolerable but they do keep their homes neat and there is a fair bit of beautifying you see through the tiny windows.
When Deepak Singh convinced me to take a walk along with him as he explored the area, I shit you not, I was stressed. I avoided making eye contact for the longest time with the people around. I even got barked at by some massive aggressive dogs and that bothered the dog lover in me. Deepak was there to capture the potters (kumbars) in the area. Amongst other early settlers the Kumbars, a large Gujarati community of potters live and work in Dharavi. We found a couple of spots where I jumped in and asked Deepak to shoot off a few frames that I could use for the post.
An interesting person we met there was Ibrahim Chacha (uncle) who is the only individual that used a manually rotated potter’s wheel for his craft. While everyone else uses a motorized wheel he takes the effort to spin his wheel with a stick, which makes the craft a lot more appealing.
I would recommend you to cast away your apprehensions and go check out Kumbarvada someday. It isn’t all that unnerving as it might appear and you might go away enriched by the often neglected experiences Bombay city has to offer.
If you already have been to Dharavi, we would be interested in learning of your experiences. Let us know by leaving behind your comments.
Photographs by Deepak Singh