"If I were able to live my life anew, In the next I would try to commit more errors.I would not try to be so perfect, I would relax more.I would be more foolish than I've been, In fact, I would take few things seriously.I would be less hygienic.I would run more risks, take more vacations, contemplate more sunsets, climb more mountains, swim more rivers,take more cart rides, contemplate more dawns, and play with more children...I would go to more places where I've never been, I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans, I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones.I've been one of those people that have lived sensibly and prolifically each minute of her life; I have had moments of happiness but If I could go back I would try to have only good moments...of those life is made: only of moments..." (adapted from J.L Borges, Instants) After Mumbai I realised how minimal must be life...
I dont want to look like the middle class that go to India and romanticise the poverty, facing the poor with a shocked face pretending a pain that perhaps they haven't felt for themselves and that once leaving the country the pain turns into spirituality in between the pleasures of the western capitalism.
I feel different,I'm happy to have had the opportunity of going to mumbai not as a tourist but as a future development practicioner, thus I reckon the need to express many things that touched my feelings and shaped my mind sending me back to London with another perspective about the simple things of what life is made, and with a huge challenge, what's next!!!, can we make a difference as individuals, as practicioners or as something else that we haven't discover yet?
what in London seemed an exciting adventure for "wannabe" practicioners, in India and our specific work in Dharavi put us face to face with the contested reality, we felt sunk in a policies-sea that appeared as an obstacle for our sweet dreams of "social justice" and "environmental sustainability".
I remember to have talked to my mum few days after we got Mumbai,after her first obvious question of How is India?? my inmediate answer was: there is no poverty in Colombia, what there is, is violence and intolerance, we have the most important resource for developing as humans, Water and sanitation.
When closing my eyes and thinking about Mumbai just one week ago, I can still recreate in my memory those contrasting moments we had in those enormous informal settlements, I cannot forget the children smiling in front of my camera, so happy, going around their "mamas" all the time claiming their attention. Children were our constant company in everywhere we were, asking for food, money and photos. They wanted to be the little characters in our fieldtrip movie, while we fullfilled our need of new faces they satisfied their dream of seconds of fame for the new foreigners.
After our hard work in dharavi and the exhausting hours compiling our findings to take a position against the current climate of the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan, we seem to have understood that change is a slow process that needs to deal with the interests of few, that have the super-power of making difference in many ways. Meanwhile our work needs to focus on showing to those few, new alternatives that make possible the inclusion of the most affected, satisfying both parts without harming the most disadvantaged, that are the majority and have demostrated the willing to transform their lives and space provided that they can be recognised as normal citizens, authors of their own change.