First impression, hot and dirty. The girls in our group were not feeling well with this extreme change of environment. However, I was in fact quite used to the weather, the busy street, the sleepless city. My oily face, my wet T shirt, the smell of air condition, everything remind me of the time in Thailand, Beijing and my hometown Hong Kong. Despite the same hot and humid weather, Mumbai has its unique character that you can never forget. Everyone is amazed by the transportation system here (if there’s any). The truck, bus, taxi, tuk tuk, motorcycle, bike, cow, trolley, human, children, dog, goat… Everything on the street is so close to each other and moving in whatever way they want.
I'm glad that we stayed for the extra 4 days after the field work. I feel like this is when we truely understand Mumbai and India. It is so different from watching the choas through the window of a hired van. It was just like watching a fish tank against diving into the big ocean.
What we learned in the process? Of course there're a lot about the context of Mumbai and Dharavi. But what's really striking is how it changed our perspectives. It is easy to generalise the term 'slum' without thinking the deeper meaning and the story behind. Seeing people sleeping on the street, the excited kids, the life of working class, your whole perception of the world and the values of things are totally twisted. You are forced to rethink what really matter and how curel the real world is.