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14-Jul-2007

July 14th, 2007

Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench

Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench

Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench

I entered Lakshman Rao Nagar (L.R. Nagar), walking and sensing with my feet. There was a sudden burst of rain. The muck that lay (perhaps an unfinished road) came alive. I looked down as I walked. Every hair on my skin stood up as I experienced the filth, the muck, the terd, the garbage, scattered all around. People live in L. R. Nagar, open drains outside the doors of their houses. I made notes:

Sewage – very poor
Sanitation – non-existent

Yes, people live in L. R. Nagar, amidst
Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench.

I walked further into L. R. Nagar, attempting to find the offices where I needed to get some information. The boundaries between L. R. Nagar, Rajendra Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar, Shastri Nagar are all very, very fluid. Murthy, the local cable operator, explaining the boundaries of L. R. Nagar said to me,
“See, you see that pile of garbage. That is where L. R. Nagar ends and Shastri Nagar begins.”
I immediately noted the landmarks (literally!) and the ways in which people create maps of their own localities.

The offices were closed. Murthy could understand and speak fluent Hindi. I asked him:
“Sir, what is the population of this slum? Is there majority Kannada people?”
“Tamil majority. 60% Tamils.”
“Remaining 40% Kannadigas?”
“No, no madam. 60% Tamils, 25% Kannadigas, 15% Hindi.”
“Hindi? You mean people from North India, Uttar Pradesh?”
“No, no madam, Hindi peoples are everywhere in India. Hindi.”
“Hindi?”
“They are Hindi Muslims.”
“Muslims? Hindis? But surely, these Muslims would have come from parts of Tamil Nadu or Karantaka? They must be Tamilian Muslims or Kannadiga Muslims?”
“Illa, no madam. You see, they are Hindi. Now, some are in Pakistan. Those who decided to stay behind, not go to Pakistan, they came here. So they are Muslims, Hindi Muslims.”
I am struck by this revelation. Hindi Muslims. I noted the category.

Murthy is a cable operator. He ‘supplies’ cable to Ambedkar Nagar. He began his business fifteen years ago, the time when you inserted the ‘cashette’ into the VCR and broadcasted the movies to everyone’s homes through the cable network. Then came the era of the satellite television. Murthy became a distributor for Ambedkar Nagar.
“The big guys get people to buy the set top boxes for 3,000 rupees after which the subscribers have to pay 250-300 rupees per month to receive the channels. Here it does not work like that. I go up to the terrace and have my man go over to the terrace of the next building. We throw the wires and make the connections. The big companies cannot come and do this here.”
“Yes, because you the local fellow. You know the local system here.”
“Exactly, because I know the locality here.”
My eyes sparkled as I discovered the idea of locality through this complex maze of wires and cables. Murthy knows the ‘local’, how to make the connections, something which the big companies cannot do because they simply do not know the ‘local’. I make a note.

I leave Murthy, fascinated, hoping to return back. I go over to the next office for data collection. I am directed to a rose-coloured building, but I do not understand from where to enter to get to the office. I am pointed to a house. Someone calls her out, saying,
“Come out. She needs something.”
Out comes she. She is old, wrinkled. I explain to her what I want. She has a morsel of food in her hand which she rolls into a ball and throws into her mouth. She washes her hands, holds me by my arm and wraps her arm around my shoulder and directs me. The local boys are asking me what I want. She shoos them away, holding me by my hand and taking me in a direction.
“Baa, baa. Banni.”

She is barefooted. I watch that carefully. My hair starts to stand up as each sense on me begins to experience all the
Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench
which her feet are traveling through. I almost want to give up my footwear, over to her. She is comfortable (or so it seems). I am not.

It is Saturday and everything is closed. I decide to come back on Monday. On my way out, I notice the open drains. Two children are running boats in the sewage waters. At that moment, I am horrified. My senses come alive.

People live here, here in L. R. Nagar. There is
Filth
Muck
Terd
Open Drains
Garbage
Stench.
These are also cityzens. They also have legitimate claims.

xanga

  1. July 16th, 2007 at 08:00 | #1

    well, i moved to Mumbai long time ago…

  2. July 29th, 2007 at 12:40 | #2

    Isn’t it turd rather than terd? And citizen (though I think that may be deliberate).

    Why do you wander the streets of Mumbai? The city fascinates me too, though I bicycle rather than walk…when I get the time. I used to say I’ve been through every street in Mumbai, but that was a decade ago.