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I’ve been dreading (and avoiding) writing this final blog entry.

How can I possibly summarize and give finality to a year that has so altered my life? When Daniel and I decided to move to India it was a leap of faith – a leap to a place where I’d never been; a leap to leave my job and take an unconventional turn; a leap to live in a place where everyone I loved would be thousands and thousands of miles away.

I’ve always been a person who benefited most from taking the road less traveled. It’s been a bit of a life motto really: Go forth.  But India is different – it grabs hold of you and changes you, taking grasp of every sense and every notion you ever had and turning it upside-down.

I’m most grateful that we got to live in India at this particular moment in time.  Mumbai in the 21st century is old and new all at once. I got to spend time with women in slums whose experiences are shockingly medieval. On the other hand, I got to see some of the same women fighting for rights like women in the West did a generation ago.  I saw corruption and caste influence situations right alongside technology and entrepreneurialism and a hunger for change.  Skyscrapers and highways brush up against bungalows and rickshaws and slums. It’s a fascinating era to experience – it’s all changing so rapidly that we got to see it as it was and as it will be.  There’s no better time to be in India and I’m a bit shocked by how quickly the time went by.

It all went so fast that it’s hard now to even remember what it felt like to arrive; I’m a bit in awe over how normal it all became. The insanity of the roads, the glaring disparities, the tropical vegetation, the color, the otherness and the dirt all somehow started eventually seeming normal. That’s the joy of living somewhere new – even the strangest and most opposite place in the world can feel like home. We made incredible friends and met the most wonderful and bizarre and entertaining group of people I could have encountered in a year, both in Mumbai and out.

So there’s no point summarizing. And luckily, I have this blog and I’ll never have to.  But if the blog has to end and if I am indeed back in the US (it keeps feeling like I’m about to board a plane from this short vacation and return to my “home” in India), then I guess I can impart one piece of advice to the wonderful people who have read this blog and commented and shared in my ups and downs: take your own leap.  No one ever regrets the things they did. You might only regret the gora tax you paid on your Alphonso mangos. It’s worth it.

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Sometimes words are not enough.

That’s how I feel about the last 24 hours – after all the excitement, all the buildup and all the anticipation India won the Cricket World Cup right here at home in Mumbai. The city exploded. Fans flooded into the streets. Cheers could be heard until the morning. Bollywood’s biggest star, Shahrukh Khan came out in his car and Bandra was suddenly an excitable mob scene.

The next day, we happened to walk into the Taj Hotel for tea and lo and behold – the entire cricket team was leaving. It was pure chaos – fans shrieked and shouted and pushed and shoved just for a chance to touch their team and their god, Sachin Tendulkar, holding the cricket world cup. And we got it all on video. Incredible.

What a case of the right place at the right time. The right city for the world’s biggest event of the moment. The right hotel to actually see the players. And only photos and videos to even begin to explain it. Go India!:

Shahruk Khan waving the flag

Waving flags on Carter road

People standing on a public bus

The ecstatic crowd at the Taj as the players left

Sachin Tendulkar with the actual World Cup

Daniel and I with our very own India shirts

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Hide and Seek

There are today more tigers living in captivity than in the wild. It is common and easy to go to a zoo and gaze at one of the world’s most beguiling creatures. But the wild is a whole other game.

Not only are there few places to actually spot one of the planet’s 2,500 – 3,500 remaining wild tigers (including the 1,400 that live in India), a tiger is also a master of camouflage. So if you do go to tiger country you are often disappointed.

Sunset at Bandavgarh national park

It is with all this in mind that I became mildly obsessed with spotting a tiger in the wild. Having grown up in a room painted by my mother where a tiger peeked out at me from the bushes, I knew I could not live in India and never try to play hide and seek with its most famous animal.

Everyone I asked told me that despite the many national parks here that hold (or claim to hold) tigers, there was only one place to go: Bandavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. The saying goes: at other parks you are lucky to see a tiger; at Bandavgarh you are unlucky if you don’t. It boasts the world’s densest population of tigers and that sounded to me like as good a shot at seeing a tiger that I would get.

A baby spotted deer in Bandavgarh

So we drove the long distance to Bandavgarh (it is truly in the middle of nowhere; as far from a major city as it could possibly be) and staked out a place at the Treehouse Hideaway, an incredible hotel that places each room up in a separate tree. We were inhabiting nature and ready to see tigers.

On our first safari – which began bright and early at 6am – we were filled with excitement and anticipation. Our hotel’s quiet but very knowledgeable naturalist, Banu, assured us we had a very good chance to see tigers over the next few days, but insisted we keep patience. I had a million questions – did the tigers ever do this or that? Did they go to this or that place? Do they come out at this or that time? Banu calmly answered almost every question with, “Sometimes,” as if trying to underscore the unpredictability of these gargantuan cats. He explained that we would know if a tiger were around by the alarm calls of the forest’s ubiquitous spotted deer and monkeys.

Adult male spotted deer and monkey in Bandavgarh

We drove along in our jeep, slowing down at watering holes and other known spots where the tigers lived. I sat with my eyes peeled at every moment despite Banu’s insistence that he would know when a tiger was near. I wasn’t taking a chance – I stared into the brush and scanned every inch I could, hoping I’d perhaps see a flash of orange. But it was to no avail. We didn’t even hear an alarm call. We came back after four and a half hours of searching feeling a little less sure of the tigers’ presence.

But by our second safari, later that afternoon, we were once again excited. Banu tried to explain to us that even though the safaris start at 3pm, we wouldn’t see a tiger until at least 4:45pm. None had been spotted sleeping in the open (and in this heat they rarely do anyway) so we’d only get lucky once they woke up later and perhaps started moving around looking for water. I still kept my eyes active looking at every potential spot below a tree or amidst the brush where a tiger could be napping.

Tiger scratches on a tree

We marveled at tiger scratches up on trees that reached twice as high as any human hand could. We passed the time by enjoying the forest’s other magnificent animals – bright birds, playful monkeys and even a rare jungle cat. But as we continued to drive in we saw a few other jeeps parked at a clearing. We all stood up, hoping this would be our glimpse of a tiger. But a forest ranger informed us that we couldn’t see them – a mother and her cubs (and by ‘cubs’ I mean two year old tigers as large as their mothers) were sleeping around the river bend. Tourists are (understandably) not allowed to ever get out of their jeep at Bandavgarh, so we would have to wait and hope they would come out. It was only 4:15pm.

Looking for tigers that never came

All the waiting jeeps

We waited as more and more jeeps stopped and waited with us – there are no radios in Bandavgarh so if one jeep sees a tiger its only luck of the drive as to whether others see it. But usually once one car is stopped a whole gaggle will stop as well. And by 4:45 about a dozen cars were waiting – we felt lucky we had arrived early and had a prime spot. But it wasn’t meant to be, once again. The tigers did not emerge and we had to get out of the park by 6:15 – a time that greatly frustrated Banu because he believed the tigers would emerge around sundown. We were a full day in and had seen no tigers.

A beautiful flying Indian Roller

On our second morning we groggily met our tranquil leader Banu who, though still subdued, seemed more excited than usual.

A fresh tiger pawprint

Tiger tracks had been spotted earlier that morning in the Zone we were assigned to (each jeep is randomly assigned a route to take so that the cars are distributed evenly). Banu informed us that the tracks were from earlier in the morning and would help us know exactly where the tigers were. We drove in and quickly spotted the tracks – we drove along the tracks to the spot where they led into the forest. We heard alarm calls – this seemed to be the moment. We waited, but nothing stirred. As the day wore on we moved around, tracking more alarm calls, but it appeared we were waiting in vain – the forest hid the tigers and they were not coming out.

A peacock in Bandavgarh

By that afternoon, for our fourth safari I had begun to feel nervous. We only could do one more safari after this one and it was starting to seem like after hours upon hours in a jeep we were not going to find any of the tigers. It felt like a mirage – were these tigers even here? My optimism was clouded. We started driving and once again, Banu said there wasn’t a chance until later – and that we should keep our hopes tempered because our Zone held very shy tigers who did not come out regularly. So we slowly drove around, Banu searching half-heartedly, as we killed time. We saw new species – Sambar deer and a jackal – and I was beginning to accept that maybe this wasn’t my time to see a tiger in the wild.

Tiger sitting up

But as the sun set and we started to drive back towards a watering hole, we saw a crowd of jeeps in the distance – Banu stepped on the gas and we stood up in anticipation. We parked as everyone took pictures, but I couldn’t see it. I suddenly realized that all my scanning had been absurd. A tiger was sitting at the watering hole, but it took quite a bit of energy to see him even in the open – his orange striped coat was an impeccable camouflage. I couldn’t have seen him quickly driving past. But there he was now – a two-year-old male cub, enjoying the late-afternoon sun and undisturbed by all the faces watching him. He was as magnificent as I had imagined and seeing him after all that time searching truly put into perspective the amount of territory tigers cover and their unpredictable wildness. As he stood up to walk away it was incredible just to see him move.

Tiger standing up

We thought that was it, but a few moments later we heard more alarm calls and sure enough, a different tiger came up to perch.

Tiger lying down

This one was from the same batch of cubs, but a female. Banu mentioned how lucky we were – in a few months, when these cubs at two-and-a-half, they will fight over territory and then most will leave the area to begin their adult lives. We were catching them in their last season. We sat and watched as she lay down, yawned and relished in the day. When she got up to move on I felt incredibly lucky that we’d had such a clear and varied sighting. Many people are lucky just to see a tiger through the trees, when they see them at all. Here we’d had two fully open tigers moving around and standing in plain view.

It was the perfect ending to our safaris – we’d played hide and go seek but the tigers had always remained in control. We’d only found them when they let themselves be found, a testament to their control over the land they have inhabited for innumerable generations before jeeps started searching for them. We’d come to Bandavgarh and avoided being among the unlucky.

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Happy Holidays

It’s very bizarre, after months of living in India, to land in the Brussels airport and see a sign that says: “Brussels: Welcoming. European. Efficient.” I walked through the bright, crisp, orderly terminal until I found a cafe and ordered a tomato, mozzarella and parma ham sandwhich. In my groggy, jet-lagged state I felt a little bit like I was in some weird dream alternate universe – I knew these things existed but they barely seem real. Can I really eat that tomato without knowing how they washed it? Is it really possible that there is good baguette and mozerrella in the world? Where is the trash? Why is no one pushing me?  But also: why does it seem so sterile and colorless?

Yes, after my hazy and jarring layover in Brussels I landed back in New York for 2 weeks to see family and friends. There’s so much to love about being back and yet so much to miss about India (let’s start with the weather…). I’m not going to blog while I’m here, so I hope everyone enjoys their holidays and I will write again once I return to India for New Years!

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Sign Me Up

I’ve been wanting for awhile to add an extra page to my blog extolling the virtues of India’s signs. And I finally have.

You see, a lot of the things I see here deserve one simple posting. But the signs are one of my favorite parts of India. They run the gamut- they’re politically incorrect. They’re gramatically incorrect. They remind you of crazy scenarios that don’t exist in other countries. And sometimes they just have their own charm about them that makes you shake your head and say, ‘this is India.’

So I’ve made a page (click here to go) and I’ll keep adding more photos as I see them. But for today: thank you advertisers of India, you keep me constantly amused.

A few of my favorites:

There’s a whole slew of signs like this one. In America you’d have luxury brands with taglines like “Now everyone can have this item.” Here it’s always “You can have this if you’re incredibly elite. Nothing reminds you of the caste system like a sign that extols the extremely un-American value of all men NOT being born equal (and then making sure that the point has been made by adding “So True”).

Why would God not approve? Why must we invoke God into our littering campaigns?

I love the mangled English and the implication that a ‘fresh’ graduate is akin to a lemon or lime. The real question is: when do we go rotten?









Just here?





This is one that’s funny because its so Mumbai and  so unintentional. The Mumbai bus service is called ‘BEST’ (whatever that stands for. Like MTA in New York). But, of course, anyone without that know-how would assume this sign just means that you’re about to get on the very best bus in a very special lane. It made me laugh when I first saw it and even after it was explained to me, I still like the idea that no one seems to have caught on to the joke.

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I’ve been here long enough that I take a lot of India’s quirkiness for granted at this point. I hate that I’ve become a bit used to some of the things that used to wow me. But it was nothing that a horse-drawn amphibious carriage couldn’t fix.

Daniel’s week had consisted of bouncing from one city across India to the next for work without getting much sleep. Mine had continued to go downhill: Bank of America forgot I lived in India and shut off my card; my internet stopped working again; my driver and housekeeper decided they hated each other for a little while and wanted to yell about it (long story…). So on Friday Daniel announced that we both needed some time to ourselves to just relax. I couldn’t have agreed more.

We decided to go to Alibaug, which is a beach town about two and a half hours outside of Mumbai. I loved driving out – its calming to watch as the crazy dirty chaos of Mumbai turns into quiet high-rises and then morphs into craggy hills, as though one of the world’s major cities wasn’t just a stones throw away. We got to the hotel and spent the first day just zoning out- reading, eating and sitting were the main criteria.

But for the second day in Alibaug we wanted to experience the beach and the Kolaba fort, an 18th century fort on an island about a kilometer from the beach. It was a gray and misty day but, as always, it was still plenty hot. And as we walked up towards the pier, I noticed there was something a little different about this particular beach.

Alibaug Beach with Kolaba Fort in the distance

The tide was out so far that half of the beach was just wet sand. The fort stood in the distance with water surrounding it, but we watched as people waded their way up to it. The water was so low that all you needed to do was hike your pants up and start walking for about half an hour from the beach and you’d reach it – no swimming required

But there was an even more curious spectacle to take in as we got to the beach’s edge. Strangely rigged horse-drawn carriages were at the ready to take tourists across the shallow shores. Instead of regular wheels they had the kinds you would normally see on a dune buggy. They were equipped for sand, water and the weight of whatever number of people wanted to cram into their chariot.

We came up to one and asked the driver how much. “Teen-saw”, he responded. 300 rupees, or a little less than $7. This was not going to be like the $50 carriages in Central Park. I still had to haggle, just to save myself a little respect.

The view from our horse

“Doe-saw?” I replied (200). The man nodded and waved us in. I realized that while our carriage ride was going to be less than $5, based on his easy acceptance of my offer, I probably was overpaying by at least half.

With that, we trotted off. It seemed like we were in some weird dream sequence. We looked out onto gray skies and black sand on our way to an eroding imposing structure in the distance – I felt like a character in a fairy tale. The horse hit the water and kept going. The carriage – all wood and metal, with paint flaking off every plank – teetered and tottered but we got there eventually. Our transport waited and we went for a stroll around the abandoned fort.

Kolaba Fort

Daniel commented that it was easy to imagine this place as it must have been. It was true – there weren’t a lot of people around and perhaps it was the clouds that darkened everything but it seemed like we were in some sort of abandoned piece of history.

Daniel and our chariot

We made our way back and I watched as ‘land’ started coming closer and closer. Our horses decided to make a sprint for it at the end. The whole thing was fun and weird all at the same time. And it had cost us around $4.50. Only in India. I’m glad we got away to be reminded that there’s so much more we can continue to be amazed by.

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Thank You

View of the mountains in Iran from the plane window

Sitting on a plane with the in-flight map telling me I was somewhere between Semnan and Mashad, Iran, I looked out the window and saw something amazing. Sand-colored mountains swept out in front of me, and at their base was a swirling mass of desert. I’d never seen anything like it before. So I just stared and watched as this remote part of the world went by. No people could live there, probably only a few plane passengers ever happened to look out the window and see it. And it was beautiful.

I’m in awe of the world. At 37,000 feet and 6,000 miles from New York it feels like there are an infinIte number of places and things to experience.

I normally don’t get overly personal on this blog, but i want to thank the person who helped plant the seed for that awe of the world- my grandmother. It was for her funeral that I needed to leave Mumbai and go back to the US this week. And I already miss her with all my heart. But I’m just so grateful that I got that love of the world from her.

She and my grandfather travelled all over the world at a time when few did. When Daniel and I went to Kuala Lumpur in June she had told me all about the ‘small rural city’ I was about to visit. She told me she could still picture the faces of children bathing in the river. She was amused when I relayed to her that her small rural city was nowhere to be found and had been overtaken by a bustling metropolis.

She had never been to India but she still loved all the stories. When my mom recently went to visit her she had all my blogs printed out, paper clipped together in order, and the topic of each one written out at the top in what I assume was her beautiful distinctive handwriting.

I was thankful this week for the perspective even a few months in India had given me. Every small difference stood out- some welcome (cleanliness, urban planning, my beloved bagels) and some moments of India missed (the color, the vibrancy, the equally beloved Indian food). It was reverse culture shock, being reminded of the different lives everyone is living simultaneously throughout the world.

These are such different, unique worlds. My world at home, my current world in my little patch of Mumbai, and even the worlds I flew over and could only see at a distance. But how incredible that we live in a time where we can aspire to experience it all.

I am going to keep writing and hope that she’s still reading. I am going to keep looking out windows hoping to catch a glimpse of something new. And I am going to feel lucky to be back in India.

The swirling deserts without the mountains

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Gone a few days

Just FYI I’m back in the US for family reasons so I will not be posting again for a few days. Check back next week.

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Driving out of Bombay was a shock to my senses — could we really be this close to lush green mountains? Apparently it had been here all this time while I was living in my little city cocoon.

I took a bit of small break from writing for the last few days because Daniel and I took a long weekend to Pune and I wanted no computer distracting me from my first moment away from Bombay.

On the highway driving out of Mumbai

And it was those first moments that truly stuck out – the feeling of traffic fading away, of noise and honking dissipating, of seeing rolling hills and no crowds of people. This was a piece of India I hadn’t seen yet, and it struck me that while I felt at home in ‘India’, my whole notion of India was based on Bombay.

We had decided to break up the four-hour drive by stopping at the Karla Caves. The literature I’d read about these caves was oddly imbalanced – the caves are beautiful, but not a major site. It’s an important historical landmark but certainly something you could skip. The caves are hard to believe, but not if you’ve been to any of the more major caves in India. So I didn’t really know what to expect.

We drove up to the base of a hill and started hiking up. On the way Daniel and I ate some roasted corn while we looked out onto a spectacular vista. I was already convinced this was a good stop. We made our way past sellers jockeying to play their Bollywood music the loudest while women weaved garlands together. But none of the usual attempts to sell us items came our way – they were mostly baffled to see white tourists.

When we’d hiked up and paid our 100 rupee entrance ($2 compared to the 5 rupee entrance for Indians) we entered the main cave. And it was magnificent. In the 2nd century Buddhists had carved out the interior of the cave to create a hall with grand pillars lining the walls. At the entrance and above each pillar were intricate carvings.

I am the tiny person...

The Karla caves interior

I stood there and took in the site, marvelling mostly at the fact that this is a site considered “off-the-beaten-track”. In a country so large and so full of rich history it’s amazing how much goes unseen. And I’m sure that if I had gone to the Ejanta and Allora caves (something I’m hoping to do while I’m here) before coming to Karla, I would also have been fairly unimpressed. But here was a cave that more than 2,000 years ago people had dug into (with no modern tools or explosives) and created a pillared hall out of the stone. And it still stands today in pristine condition. How is that not something to shout from the rooftops about?

It mostly just gave me a big reality check that I cannot get too settled into Bombay – I have to see this incredible country.

Of course, after feeling that, the rest of Pune was ironically slightly underwhelming. It certainly is a vibrant city – it’s three or four hours south of Mumbai, a hub for colleges and universities with a thriving cultural scene. I’ve heard it described, for all these reasons, as the Boston of India.

View from a fort in Pune

But we were mostly there to see some of our friends who were in town from the US – and as such the few forts and temples we went to took a backseat to the enjoyment of seeing familiar faces (especially since these forts and temples were not as nice as other temples and forts we had already seen. I’d already forgotten my earlier reminder that we shouldn’t stop appreciating the seemingly less-impressive-by-comparison sites).

One other thing that did strike me about Pune was the presence of Marathi, Maharastra’s main language. I know a lot of people speak Marathi in Bombay (in fact, many native Bombayiites try to argue that everyone here should place more emphasis on Marathi), but Hindi and English rule outside of residential areas. But in Pune, Marathi is king.

Of our two friends (both American second-generation Indians), one spoke Marathi and the other Hindi. And our Hindi-speaking friend (and Hindi-speaking driver from Bombay!) had quite the difficult time. I had heard so much about India’s multi-lingual idiosyncracies, but since in Bombay I am always the foreign one, it amazed me that even a few hours away, Hindi speakers also were lost.

On our last day in Pune we ventured up to a temple on the top of a hill that overlooked all of Pune. It was beautiful to see the whole city laid out in front of is. It was large and sprawling and just another reminder of how small we are in this country with so many people, cities, languages and cultures.

And so we drove back to Bombay, but with a newfound determination to see the rest of India – not just the small India that I know.

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We marched out of the Dharavi hospital with a sense of purpose. I’d come back to begin my project here with the domestic violence prevention center. I’m going to be documenting the work they do and so I’m starting by shadowing for a few days.  I’d met up with the supervisor in the main office, but he was taking me to the field office, in the heart of the slum.

We had to go single file – there are no sidewalks in Dharavi that I’ve seen. We were walking along 60 Foot Road, which is named quite literally for the width of the street.  It’s a bustling thoroughfare with shops on either side and then trucks, cars, motorbikes, people, stray animals, and trash all crowding the road.  Because of the monsoon everything is wet and mud sticks onto my feet and legs within the first steps. At times I had to breathe through my mouth when passing a particularly garbage-filled (or excrement laden) area.

I tried mostly to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and following my leader. I kept one eye on his black shirt in front of me and one eye on the ground so I didn’t fall or step on anything that could hinder me. We maneuvered through large good carrier vehicles parked on one side of the road while cars and motorbikes went around us on the other side. It’s like an elaborate game of Frogger getting through the Dharavi streets, and you can’t stop paying attention for more than a moment.

But when I could steal away moments of attention, I tried to take in the energy of the place. It’s like it’s own small city in the middle of a metropolis. The commotion has a pattern and every shop and stand is bustling with the breath of the community. It’s colorful and chaotic and exciting – even while you’re trying not to get run over.

By the time we got to the office my sandals were soaked through and the bottom of my blue kurta was splattered with mud and dust and who knows what else. The office is mostly just an empty room with no windows and no formal door – paint cracked on walls that were entirely empty except one team photo. Everyone sat on the floor, paying no attention to the one piece of furniture in the room, a desk with an unused old computer. But the circle of women that occupied the space filled the room with their vibrancy.

I took my shoes off and sat with the women, who were diligently writing in notebooks on wooden trays perched on their laps. One volunteer, who had been brought along to translate for me, alerted the group to my presence. In Hindi she explained who I was and why I was there. Everyone looked up and smiled at me – without words I knew I was welcome.

Through slow translations I began asking questions. The most vocal of the group, a woman of approximately 30 in a blue kurta with her hair pulled into a tight bun, started by explaining their day to day activities. In the morning they document the previous day’s work (hence the writing when I walked in) and do office activities. In the afternoon they hold sessions.  The sessions consist of groups of women from the community who want to talk about any issue that’s bothering them, whether it be sanitation concerns, food rationing, or safety. The field workers try to use these sessions to solve community issues as well as raise the problems of domestic violence.  Even though all of this was being said to me in Hindi, the woman speaking looked straight at me as she talked, as though she wanted to make sure the message was coming through.

I asked why the subject of domestic violence had to be addressed in such a roundabout way. A quiet woman in an orange sari with a slew of bangles and earrings responded animatedly once my question was raised. She said it’s an impossible topic in Dharavi. No one would come to their group sessions if they were just speaking primarily about domestic violence. Most of the time, if a woman raises the issue, she begins by saying she has a cousin or a neighbor who is experiencing violence in the home. Then the workers have to approach her later to find out if it is really she who is in need of help or counseling.

We talked for over an hour through translations about the various work they do beyond the group sessions – outreach campaigns and talks and films, youth groups and now even a men’s group. They have an upcoming campaign August 15th for Indian Independence day where they will try to recruit new members. They’re also now training more active members in how to deal with domestic violence throughout the community beyond the group sessions.

The women truly lit up when I asked why each of them had decided to make a career out of community work. All the field workers are originally from Dharavi and all the ones I spoke to had originally gotten involved through the groups they now lead. Most of them originally didn’t even know you could have a job where your duties were just helping others. But as every one went around the circle and told their individual stories it was clear that each had been inspired by the small changes they could create and now all were devoting their life to it.

We took a break for lunch before they went out into the community for their afternoon work. I sat, hesitant. I certainly didn’t want to get sick from eating street food in Dharavi. But even before the Hindi was translated I could see that they all wanted to share their food with me. They all now had questions for me and it was my time to share. As they pulled out their rotis and various vegetables they started quickly asking questions to my translator while motioning for me to eat.

I didn’t want to be rude. I couldn’t be rude – they had answered every question I had and had welcomed me in without hesitation.  And now they wanted to share with me.  So I took a roti, said a little internal prayer hoping to not get sick, and ate. As I ate I answered all their questions – why was I here in India? What country did I come from? Did I like being in Mumbai? Did I miss home? Did I like Indian food? Through the translation they all laughed and smiled and kept asking more and more questions.

And when lunch was over and they were off for their afternoon work I said goodbye and made my way back through the crazy streets of Dharavi. I’d be back the next day to see the group sessions and I already felt truly lucky to be able to watch them work in this place they loved so much.

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