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January 15th, 2006

15 January 2006


The roads were empty and clear this morning. I actually felt like running on the streets because I have never experienced roads the way I did this morning (in Bombay ).


The marathon is on today. I land at Marine Drive and stand at Pizzeria. Immediately I notice ragpickers moving about with their hessian sacks. For a minute I wondered and then pieced the story together – today being the marathon, there will be bulk of plastic and paper thrown around on the roads (despite bins). And for ragpickers, this means an opportunity (just as it means an opportunity for the city’s ecology).


It’s amazing how systems work in this city, without government controls and interventions. There was no   ordinance issued by the government asking the ragpickers to come out on the streets. Similarly, there is no ordinance issued to people to behave and conduct themselves in certain ways in the local trains (vis-à-vis space negotiation).


Daily, I come across people sorting out the trash of the city – paper, cloth, plastic. There are slum communities which specialize in this. For instance, the Nagpada slums which sort cloth strips and the groups of women who sort paper around Churchgate SNDT and income-tax areas. I watch these practices at ground levels and wonder about the working (macro) intelligence of the city which occurs through these practices at various ‘ground’ levels.


I am at this moment working to understand systems and conventions in this city and how crowds/groups of people develop workable systems which sustain the working of this city. Also, how these local relationships are being eroded, changed, transformed in the making of the global city …


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