BOOK: POOR LITTLE RICH SLUM
AUTHORS: RASHMI BANSAL AND DEEPAK GANDHI
PUBLICATION: WESTLAND LTD
The book, ‘Poor Little Rich Slum’ is a great valiant effort in bringing to the forefront what urban dwellers in cities would rather hastily sweep under the carpet. The book writes about not just any slum but a place where “….a cauldron is bubbling with enterprise, with a never -say-die attitude. With spirit and spunk…” It writes about “Ten by ten feet rooms occupied by eight- member families with barely enough space to stretch their legs. Stove in one corner, TV in another.”
One wonders, “….Even that is surely not enough…Where do people relax? How do children study? When do couples make love?”
The answers are obvious because people do adjust, they make do with what they have.
“They adjust to lack of privacy.
They adjust to lack of hygiene.
They adjust to lack of progress.
Because this is the only life they know”
Although they are aware that there is a better life out there.
Poor Little Rich Slum could be just any other book about a society bursting at its seams, bearing with the indifferent attitude of the have-it-alls. But, there is a difference. What makes this book stand out is the heartfelt intention and initiative of the authors and the photographer to make a difference and the ability to perceive life from the point of view of the people living in Dharavi.
People in the pages of this book are real living characters who suffer, slog but survive only because of their determination to make it in life, come what may. We may not expect this from them because of the background that they come from. But it is a fact, that Dharavi shows time and again that life can be lived and made a success of (of course, the definition of success varies everywhere!) if only one aspires for more with the little that one has.
Characters like Jameel Shah who is currently on the hot list of actors like Katrina Kaif, Hritik Roshan, Kylie Minogue, etc for making beautiful dancing shoes, Mustaqueen Bhai whose stitching work has brought him customers not just from Mumbai and other parts of India but also from Mexico, Panama and Brazil, Panju Swamy – the owner of Ayyappan Idli Stall, Fahim Vora and Tauseef Siddiqui of the ‘ Be The Local’ travel and tour agency which caters not just to tourists but also provides employment to college students from Dharavi, Rani Nadar of the ‘Rebe Rubi’ tailoring centre where she “continues to sew hopes and dreams” inspite of the fact that “Dharavi cannot be fixed with a few stitches,” Praveen Sakpal of the Gurudutt Gymnasium whose boys have made it as bodybuilders representing district and state levels and many also procuring railway jobs in the ‘sports quota’, Aneerudha Paul from the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) who could be designing golf courses and penthouse apartments but prefers to be part of KRIVA, to fight for the development of Dharavi and its people – all of them and many more such inspiring people and organizations make Poor Little Rich Slum a worthwhile effort and deserving read.
I would suggest that everybody, irrespective of status and ideology must have a TASTE of this wonderful book. The writing touches the heart without getting too emotional and the pictures are mind blowing.
“Yahan sab kuch hai – paisa achha hai, log ache hain, par aasmaan nahi hai, jaan hai, jahaan nahi hai.”
(Here, everything is there – money is good, people are nice but there is no sky. Life is there but there is no world).
“A slum of energy, enterprise and hope.
Where every hand is busy, every head held high.
Where people could be miserable but choose to be happy.
A choice each of us can make.”
This quite sums up Dharavi, about which the authors so passionately write in this beautifully designed book. I think this should be a prompt enough for you to read this book? What say?
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