This was written few days ago…apologies for the delay in posting
The last night in Bombay has finally come. In these last few weeks, I’ll have visited 3 or 4 slum rehabilitation projects, many pavement dweller sites, ridden the train in Mumbai, attended a fashion magazine party, shot a bollywood movie (ok ok- it was a tv add…but who has to know!), met with high ranking government officials and NGO workers, with architects and planners, and most importantly, will have visited and interviewed many people of Dharavi, where we spent 7 afternoons.
India is decisively a place where the extremes stand far from each other. The distance between the clients of the Trident or Taj Hotel and those of SPARC or NSDF could not be any greater. Unlike most, we had the opportunity to interact and deal with people from both poles. How many people can walk from Dharavi to the top floor of MHADA’s office to share tea with the vice-president in the same day!?
Our direct exposure to highly ranked policy makers and their ‘subjects’ positioned us between the grassroots and decision makers. It located us between black and white; at a place built of compromises. At this point, I definitely felt far from home, from academia and from utopian ideas, and right in the professional world. It was harsh to be reminded of the needs for trade offs; of establishing a fine balance between ideals and realities- to depart from our beliefs to be realistic...