Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The first time in India

“Is it your first time in India?” somebody asked me at SPARC’s office. “It’s my first time in Asia”, I said. Being there not as a tourist but as a student, who tries to understand the perspective of the practitioner when being in the field, what I can say now is that the whole work becomes a game of negotiations between all the actors. During our stay in Mumbai we had to deal with two worlds. The first world was consisting of all the primary and secondary forces bringing Dharavi at the heart of development and the second one, the world of Dharavi itself. Day by day, through the presentations and meetings we had, we were able to understand better this entire external system and its context; and on the other hand there was Dharavi, where we walked, spoke with the people, visited their homes and businesses. Between these two realities, as practitioners, we had to find our position and make our response to the new redevelopment plan. We had to find what to do, how to do it and with whom. That was for me the biggest challenge that we faced and tried to express it with certain proposals in our report. All the rest are unique memories that I prefer to keep for me. If somebody would ask me “what did you see at your first visit in India?” I would say: I saw children playing in the streets of Dharavi like in any other place in the world. But it was not football, just cricket..”

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