From the bejewelled red and green inlays of the pearly white Taj Mahal, to Jaipur, the “Pink City”, to the greens mountains of Nilgiri Hill, and of course the flood of colourful saris surrounding every temple, India is truly full of colour. However, strangely enough, for me the most vibrant colours can be found at the slums of Mumbai.
Standing on an aluminum roof of one of the industrial buildings in every direction, for kilometers all I see are colours. Starting with the majestic green and white mosque. The tallest building in the slums. Followed by the 100s of other aluminum roofs covered in a multitude of colours. Some with coloured plastic containers waiting to be shredded. Others with the confetti like shredded plastic drying in the scorching Bombay sun. Flying fabrics, drying in the sun to set the stain before being made into garments. On the ground the colours continue, women pass in saris of every colour, men in checkered lungies, reminiscent of Scottish kilts. Pastels of the houses in the residential area pop against the grimy grey and brown of the ground. And the most bright are the gleaming faces of the kids and locals as they greet you…and not beg. The first place in India, where for a couple of hours no one asked me for money, school pens or chocolate.
The locals love living here. There is a sense of community and helpfulness among people that is so refreshing.
This is not to say it is not horrible. The people working in the industries are in awful conditions. Working long hours, in dimly lit shacks basically. The youngest age being 14 and the oldest has no limit. They are given free accommodations. Sounds good, eh? Nope. It’s just the second floor of the shack they work in. The wages are about $2 per day.
They seem happy and they do take care of each other. The children are sweet and smart.
We could really learn about community from the slums of Mumbai.