Mumbai Dharavi SlumFebruary 18, 2020 in India ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C
We woke up nice and early and set off to get to Bandra junction train station to catch a train to Mahim junction where we would meet our tour guide for todays tour of Dharavi Slum, one of the largest slums in the world. We got to Bandra and got on any train heading in the direction of Mahim, which we found out as wrong as we sped past Mahim junction without stopping...we got out at a random train station and an Indian commuter decided to take us under his wing and ensure we got on the correct train to Mahim, what a nice guy! He even advised us to wear our backpack on our front to avoid the notorious pickpockets on the Mumbai inner city trains. We eventually got to Mahim and took a seat in Cafe Coffee Day, the exact meeting point for our tour.
At around 9:45, Yahya arrived outside with three Irish girls, we went out to meet them to start our tour. Yahya worked for a company called ‘The Local Tours’, a company that we had been recommended by Jen, who Tom used to work with. It is a very socially aware company and they recruit university students that live in Dharavi to run the tours as a means of earning money to pay for their tuition fees, so it was a nice company to do it with. Yahya explained to us all that Dharavi was not a sad place to live, in fact a very desirable place to live for people in India. Over 1 million people called Dhiravi home and it has a booming economy, with a GDP of over $1 billion per annum with textiles, leather and recycling industries being its biggest income. Yahya explained how when Dharavi was founded, from dried up marsh land, people from all over India rushed to buy the land due to its central location in Mumbai, and now the land is very expensive at over a quarter of a million rupees per square meter. We walked round the streets and many alleyways of Dharavi and saw first hand each of the major industries at work and also where people were living and it was right what Yahya was saying, people were more than happy living here, in fact they loved living here. We got an awesome lunch in Yahya’s favourite place and then finished the tour near to a barber shop, so ever the opportune, Tom and I decided to get our hair cut, 80 rupees for a haircut!
The man who would be doing the haircut had bright orange hair with matching beard, so hopefully he was better than whoever does his hair! We played rock, paper, scissors to determine who would go first....for the first time in ages, Tom won, so I was up! I’m not going to lie about 2 minutes in it looked like he had absolutely butchered my hair, but he turned it around eventually and he actually gave me a good cut! After my haircut was finished the man decided to give me a very thorough/violent face wash, involving a pink machine that resembles a polishing machine....it was not pleasant and he was pummelling my cheekbones and nose with this vibrating device. It was then Tom’s turn and that is when we found out he could only really do one style, as we both got practically identical haircuts. Tom then endured the same torturous face wash machine, and tried to pay up....however he was trying to double the cost saying that the face wash (that we didn’t ask for) was additional. Paying no more than the agreed price, we left Dharavi after having a great morning.
We made our way back to Mahim junction and got a train to Charni road where we walked to Chowpatty beach. A little bit of a disappointment if I’m honest...it wasn’t exactly the nicest beach but I wasn’t really expecting much in the centre of Mumbai. We continued walking along the beach to find the hanging gardens that Tom had read about...again a little bit of a disappointment too. However, it was the highest point in Mumbai, hence the name “hanging gardens”, due to its location there was a observation deck nearby that we went up to get a view over crazy Mumbai - this was pretty nice, and free too! We then walked back through Mumbai traffic to a nearby train station, stopping off for a bit of air con in H&M and got a train back to Bandra where we got our now standard order of Chinese Bhel, this time with noodles on top for not additional charge...we were becoming locals here.
After this long hot day, we went back to the hostel for some chill and then back to the same place for more Chinese Bhel, and then we went over the road for an Orea Shake, which was unreal! With the taste of chocolate in our mouths, we then made a desperate trip to the shop for biscuits then back to the hostel for the night.Read more