Slum tours? Like tours that show around the mess that people live in? Well, I had a similar perception before I read this book by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi called “Poor Little Rich Slum”. It’s a beautiful documentation on how the people of Dharavi made it big. The city of Dreams lives up to its name even when it has the biggest slum in Asia. In the narrow lanes and dilapidated houses, people dare to live up to their dreams. But all said and done, you actually have to experience all of it yourself to be able to appreciate it. And luckily enough, Sarah, my lovely friend from Vienna came for a research to Delhi on a similar topic.
So, let’s take some time out to appreciate the small community of 50,000 people in Sanjay Colony at Okhla Phase II, Delhi. Reality tours (www.realitytoursandtravel.com) gave us the opportunity to walk around the residential colony, interact with the people and even have a sumptuous lunch with them.
Now how do you define a slum? Well we all have our individual definitions and descriptions. A Slum, for the purpose of Census (2011) , has been defined as residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangements and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of street, lack of ventilation, light, or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health.
Let’s talk about the tour now. 80% of the funds collected through these tours are utilized in providing lessons of Computers, English and Life Skills to the slum dwellers. There are qualified trainers for these classes who indirectly become a part of the slum tourism. It was overwhelming to see their office and the classrooms. Who thought that these tours are directly contributing to a social cause? Yes, that’s what these tours are for. To appreciate and get inspired by the people who dare to dream even when they don’t get all the privileges that we do.
We all have countless aspirations. We are just greedy. But all these people want is to work hard and lead a good life. The younger generation aspire for more. You’ll never find anyone in Sanjay Colony who is not smiling. In fact they’ll proudly tell you how they get electricity all the time. The children are so delightful, playful and ever enthusiastic. In fact, the literacy rate of the place is a good 90%!
I’ll share a very cute conversation I had with one of the kids-
Kid- You’re from which country?
Wanda (a friend I made during the tour) – Germany.
Me- Arey tum toh bohot intelligent ho! (You seem to be very intelligent!)
The kid got shy and ran away! We couldn’t help but smile at his innocence.
So, my lovely friends, if you would like to know more about these tours, the following is the link-
The link for this particular tour- http://realitytoursandtravel.com/sanjay-tour-family-lunch.php
The book by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi- http://www.amazon.in/Poor-Little-Rich-Rashmi-Bansal/dp/9381626189
Other Sources- censusindia.gov.in/2011-Documents/On_Slums-2011Final.ppt