Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Photo Essay – Rajiv Gandhi Jhuggi Camp, East Delhi

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Slum guide for dummies

Slum guide for dummies.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Heady after Slumdog Millionaire's eight Oscars, The Delhi Walla has said tata-bye to monuments. It's slum tourism, for now. While Dharavi in Mumbai has already spawned that trend, Delhi has no such dynamic hub of prosperity in adversity. But should you want to see for yourself how the ‘other half’ lives, I give you a handy primer, taking the Rajiv Gandhi Jhuggi Jhopri camp in east Delhi (next to Karkardooma flyover) as an example.

What are slums like?
From outside, you might think the first big gust of wind will sweep them away. But in truth, slum dwellings are tenacious – like the people who live in them.

What to expect inside?
Squalor, clogged drains, slush-filled alleys, but also – you’ll be surprised – happy families and neighbourly bonding, like in any colony anywhere in the world.

Can I visit a home?
Very conveniently. Slum dwellers don't shut themselves behind locked doors. Walking past the houses, you can usually see what’s going on inside – somebody sleeping, somebody cooking, somebody staring, somebody bawling, somebody getting close to somebody else. Should you want to get in, try acting a little lost and maybe in need of some rest on a hot day. Ask, and you shall get an invitation.

What about privacy?
Washing dishes, brushing teeth, showers... all take place at the same public hand pump. On his field trip, this blogger found long queues outside a community loo. A funny sight: people clutching their tummies to ward off the ‘pressure’. The same thing you saw in Slumdog Millionaire.

Are our slums like Dharavi?
Nah. This place, at best, could attract a documentary film crew from JNU. But Hollywood? Forget it. There's no Dharavi energy or enterprise here. At least, not visibly.

Are the kids street-smart like Slumdog's Jamal?
Well, there was no kid caked in crap; probably because Danny Boyle doesn’t live in Delhi. Kids here are cattier than Jamal, if anything. Hardly anyone appeared to be a future chaiwalla, or a gangster, or a gangster’s moll. Instead, the children were getting ready for school.

Such is life

Slum guide for dummies

Yet, life is cheery

Slum guide for dummies

Street buddies

Slum guide for dummies

Slice of sky

Slum guide for dummies

Sunny here

Slum guide for dummies

It's all public

Slum guide for dummies

No privacy

Slum guide for dummies

Shh, he's reading

Slum guide for dummies

Off to the school

Slum guide for dummies


Rima Kaur said...

you did a good job mayank. they must have felt so happy seeing you there, clicking their photographs.

Raluca Sidon said...

Once again, you are so funny and talented!

Milan Kuchhal said...

What if they live in slum, they are also the human beings......
Slumdog Millionaire made its producers billionaire....
nothing will change in slums, till we start seeing them as human beings.......

Prem said...

"You did a good job mayank", says Rima Kaur. Sure, it;s a "good job" photographing and exploiting people, of course no one ever bothers to pay them for their photos! Blogger is superior, he has a camera that can click the less fortunate ones and of course its so fun exploiting them, na?

Raluca says: "You are so funny and talented", sure you are. It's fun laughing at the expense of society's "slumdogs". Your blog is disgusting and your excusrions to such places that exploit human dignity is even at its worse.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Prem. You should sit and ponder over the usage of terms like 'slum tourism'. Social issues are sensitive and sadly, Mayank, you as a journalist have disappointed me.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand the concept of depicting poverty of India if people cant do anything for them. Dont mock at there poverty! A true journalist is one who works for their upliftment and not covers them to make himself popular face.

Rima Kaur said...

prem, not every person who is photographed by a journalist is paid for it. but its sad that at the end of the day, the slum people remain in their slums while we get back to the comforts of our home. but it needs to be shown na?

but i do agree with your other point. the post wasnt supposed to be funny in any way.

Prem said...

Rima, what's there to show? Show that they are poor. Ok. Journalist is someone who has a conscious end of day -- if not to pay them, then just to exploit. cheap journalism. And it seems you like shooting off your points without truly understanding what the issues are.


Ank said...

I am in awe of your writing and style of journalism. Dont let it go -- Ever!
I think I want to concur with ARRahaman's comments to an interviewer, If we do not see the slums, or show them how will we ever solve these problems.
Again, a big fan of yours keep up the good work.

Prem said...

Ank: you want to state A.R Rahman's point, by all means -- go ahead. Where does the points lead? And this notion that the dwellers need to be "shown", how pompous! are they monkies in a carnival, huh?? Is it "us" who do not uplift them? Rahman lives in peace and high profile life, so its quite easy to showcase and exploit the ones who are marginalized and vulnerable. just like slumdog did that! So they won an oscar, let's not forget it is the colonials who will always use and abuse the Indians. History has pages full of our blood.

Nothing more than a cheap shot at human indignity. Way to go Soofi. Disgusting.

Milan Kuchhal and anonymous 2x, you make sense! Am sure the colonial millionaires are sitting in their tux laughing at those children who were exploited. F--K this is evil.


Anonymous said...

Prem, what is your problem?
This blog is superior in content and amazing in insights.
As for slums, human being live there. They have their lives which are as special as ours. Photographing them doesn't mean you are demeaning them. I just don't get it. What is your problem?

Munna on the run said...

Prem sahab, you seriosuly don't know what you are talking about.
Mayank, fantastic post brother. You are really doing a very important job.

Anvita Lakhera said...

Why is our poverty so precious that we can’t talk about it, photograph it, film it? I guess we should make an altar of it and simply leave it at that. And just keep grumbling what everyone besides us is doing to eradicate it. Before a certain someone comes running after me with a verbal gun let me humbly ask, “What is your contribution sir besides writing comments here?”

I wonder how many people in India realize that we don’t have exclusive rights to poverty there is extreme poverty in the West too. And can we please accept the fact that the world loves Slumdog Millionaire and has only good things to say about India after watching it. Why can’t we handle that?

Pretentious we can handle but one wonders how do you solve the problem of sanctimonious coupled with ignorance. Especially one lacking the sense of irony.

As always well done Mr. Mayank Austen Soofi.

Prem Sahota said...

Oh I have no problems accepting there is poverty. But I DO NOT EXPLOIT the people who are living in slums.
Some of you live in an hour glass, no, wait, rose petals.

this site is out of my computers, there are young goons lurking on this site who are rather unintelligent and follow the sheeps. No one was doubting Soofi's talent for photography, the topic and exploitation gets the minus here.
Munna: can you tell what am i "seriously don't know what i am talking about". give me your "intelligent" views for my seem to be lacking in content! On the other hand, am not least bothered to view juvenille blogs that cannot even hold a decent debate of opinions. If one does not "sugar coat" the blog, one is considered a nuisance. what blasphemy!
Blocked. Pity for such minds! This blog is amateur in content, redundant, lopsided and very stale. but The Delhi Walla is young, and has a long way to go in understanding human dignity and the lack of.
Good bye

Anonymous said...

yes pls....goodbye prem.

Saifullah Ejaz Khan said...

What a "cunt" anonymous is! Saying "goodbye prem". CUNT AND A HALF has no guts to even state his/her name. Prem at least has "balls" to stand up for his opinion and not hide like the rest who blab off comments to look feel good. Check out out other blogs where people learn the art of healthy debate and are intelligent enough to stand by their views. there really is no real views on this blog, either people are agreeable and romanticize Soofi's talent or are absolutely childess in forming intellectual and creative analysis. Buncha kids! No, Buncha spoilt brats who just know how to fart and stench the air.

Good for you Prem, you walked out on this lousy blog that actually insults profund intelligence. The blog recommends other blogs which I checked out. What an amazing site to check is Lahore Nama (our sister city) blogger is Raza Rumi and what a great sense of intelligence, wit and humour. Lacked by this crooked blog and its goons. Learn from Lahore Nama. lahore Aye Aye!

Bye Bye The Delhi Walla and its childess trail. (f you have guts, you will print this and advocate blogs that make sense - ie, your blog list)

Oh yeah, and Rima says she "can't stand debates and does not like fighting", bhai, who's fighting? It's called "learning". The rosey-petal vision is very poor, for no one hardly gains from living and viewing a world as passive-non active. Bet Mama & Papa slog away to cater to their "Pinky" ! lol

Saifullah Ejaz Khan
Delhi, India

Rima Kaur said...

saif, i think you crossed the line there.

i would have agreed with you for a second when you said this is not fighting, but learning. but as the filth in your comment unfolded, i reconsidered my reconsideration.

and i am surprised that a person who has "profund" intelligence does not know how to use quotation marks. they cannot be put over any random word, you know.

with this i let it rest.

Saifullah Ejaz Khan said...

Grow up Rima. Quotation complaining! LOL. How about your line, "i reconsidered my reconsideration"? BOLO. should it not read: I reconsidered by CONSIDERATION? chalo, before you attack, you are quite reactioanary as per other comments, thus I do not pay much attention to your sense of judgement or analysis. Even your blog is extremely stale!

I checked to see if Soofi would publish my last comments. Good. He has balls, am sure good ones! LOL. Just the goons who he attracts on his blogs are quite spineless in their opinions. Some, I must say!

I did not cross any line and am not at all apologetic for giving my views! Okay bye bye, over to Rumi's blogs (time to read meaningful subjects and discourse with similar people).

I must say, Soofi is quite a looker, only if he managed his stories well, then he would attract readers he can benefit from. Unlike the rants of childish adolescents! Tho, looks has nothing to do with intellect, he can have both. Already has one, lets see the rest....

Saifullah Ejaz Khan
Delhi, India

Rima Kaur said...

reconsidered my reconsideration


reconsidered by consideration

are two entirely different things. what i wanted to say has been perfectly contained in those three words. your correction has a completely different meaning.

its alright if you find my blog stale! you can hate it, mock it, throw virtual eggs at it. its ok!

yeah i am quite reactionary! something that i completely agree with. good day.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Interesting to stumble upon this as a Westerner working in Delhi for a few weeks.

Hiding poverty does nothing to change it, and it is admirable to show that joy exists everywhere, not just among the rich. It's an important lesson, conveyed in these pictures' smiles.

To call this post exploitative is simply ignorant. Anyone believing Mayank makes money from this blog doesn't understand blogging and the internet. What Mayank is doing here is an act of generosity - a sharing of his talents for observation and writing - to his readers, giving us all glimpses into worlds we might not see or, in Prem's case, prefer to either hide, or hoist upon some pedestal so she/he can feel better about her/himself. All of which is about her/his problems, not the people in these photos.

Also speaking as an outsider from the west, it's a bit funny to see how seriously some take Mayank's writing, and judge him so harshly for it. If you don't like what you're reading, start your own blog. It's free. Don't expect Mayank, or anyone, to do your work for you.

Sahil said...

I've always liked your work Mayank. I don't know if its good or bad to exploit the slums. Reema, Milan, Prem all have their respective points of views and their says and do's; but there is one man, who is actually doing something (regardless of whether it may be a good thing to do or not), and that man is you.
Your article, above other things shows to the apartment dwellers like me that there isn't all that is 'YUCK' in the slums. There is happiness too, and there is life.

Vishal said...

I have read all the comments and finally I think 'Anon Westerner" has said it all very nicely, there is no exploitation, we cant hide/ignore, blogging is free, etc.

BTW MAS, though some may call it reomanticising poverty, seeing India from typical Westerner viewpoint or Rich-man's pornography, etc but you still bring to fore quite few relevant issues that we as society need to understand, and where possible take onus to resolve...... Many readers who commented may be frustrated due to lack of their ablity to do something about it. I know I keep harping but whenever you write about issues always provide contact details of NGOs (with website where people can contribute money online or offer to wor as volunteer as there overseas readers too) working in those areas or on those issues. E.g. If story is about clums then provide a list of NGOs in that slum working on sanitation, NGO working on childern's education, NGO on mircofianance for housewives, NGO for training housewives, NGOs working on drug and substance abuse, NGO on heathcare, NGO on women's issue, etc. becuase a slum may have multiple social, economical, urban planning and healthcare issues.