I take photos almost all the time when in India, but not of people I really pity. People with no dignity. There are lots of them in the streets of Mumbai.
The first time I came here, I was intrigued about the number of people sleeping on the streets, at all times. No shelter, just there, on the pavement, their only belonging a sack perhaps. Chappals have to make do as a pillow. In the city, the south part of Mumbai up to Mahim where the suburbs start, people mostly sleep on the pavements. I haven’t yet seen so many families who live their life on the pavement – but they might be there. The City is quite nice, especially in the morning. Colaba, Khala Goda, Fort, Nariman Point…. – lined with great buildings put up by the Britishers – and the green maidans. Still, the many poor people remind you constantly about the hard life of Mumbai.
People tend to walk not on the pavement itself but along the cars in the street. Now I do the same. The pavements are fully occupied with stalls, hawkers, vendors …. and sleeping people at all hours.
In the suburbs you get to see all sorts of living conditions. Big areas of slums. Shacks lined along the pavements. But many are those who just live on the pavement itself. They sit around a small fire, eat some food, half naked childre crawling around or going to the toilet just there. Going by car through Mumbai on a late evening is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have never seen so many deformed people anywhere. Limbs are missing, or totally deformed – here you can see every disorder possible. Very often they move among and around the vehicles on the roads, begging for money. They search out tourists, come to our cars. It’s heartbreaking, but if you start giving money you’ve got yourself a full time job.
Children is another story. Many work for the mafia. They are brought from the outskirts of Mumbai into Dadar (I’ve been told) and spread around the city in order to beg all day. Strike up a conversation with a native about these issues and very often you will feel he/she doesn’t really pity. -They live a simple life compared with ours, a friend told me. – They have no rent, no maintenance, no work to worry about. They just beg and eat and sleep… Maybe you have to grow up in Mumbai to take such an attitude, for us it’s impossible.