Monday, June 18, 2007

Below: the squalor of the 60 ft road, Dharavi.
Above: a peepal glitters over a rain- wet tin shack.
A canopy of madhumalti, red and white and green interspersed.
Cobalt blue sky. Freshly cleaned. Cloud streaks like a kid’s finger painting.

Dharavi. Asia’s largest slum, under redevelopment; luxury towers and bare flats for the slumdwellers will coexist on precious real estate a few years down the line. A black billboard says: Strike on the 18th. Fight for your rights. A 400 sq ft flat a must! Can’t help wondering, a year or two down the line, the slumdwellers will return, and the laws of Darwin will play out, and some will own several flats, some none.

The prayer meeting. Silent. Except for the drone of the rotating fan.
Dignified. Outside, a gentle rain glistens on the road and you walk skipping past puddles as you make your way home. Thoughtfully.

Jasmine strands for sale. White and orange, in heaps on green plantain. Starkly beautiful. Heady perfume. Why does it seem cloying, stale, fit for the dustbin the next morning?

11 comments:

Ricercar said...

i wonder why it does (seem cloying the morning after).

Proxima said...

I love Jasmine and I miss the Jasmine strands you speak of. I bought a couple from a girl once, barely 13, she was.

I have read about that slum in Mumbai, it was in a National Geographic Magazine a few months ago. Very sad, too many places like it, especially in Asia and Africa.

I read Wisteria blooms. You been around. :> I don't miss the long planes rides, close quarters with too many strangers (it's usually sensory overload for me and headaches), long lines and immigration checks.

Have a great day (or night)!
-P

mago said...

Do you see how important smell is for us? One can remember smell years later and a special smell can bring back memory.
Jasmin remembers me a little of death always. The "sweet odor of death". The baroque motif of "Frau Welt" comes to my mind. See here for two pictures
http://www.zumsterbenschoen.info/Vanitas.43.0.html
what i mean.
Sorry for this morbid thing here.

Portia said...

your writing about knocks me over. i love it.

tea would be lovely right now, tks:)

crab said...

ditto portia .. tea wld b lovely right now thnks :)

austere said...

ricer- it has outlived its utility, and there is a time for all seasons?

proxima- ty for reading wisteriablooms. four jetlagged days or was it five, and allll of the great US of A..it is a lot of space, right in the middle of the suburbs. I hope some fairness is done.
mago- what an association! The fresh strands are lovely, to wear in long hair, but the old ones, ugh..Must view the pic, one moment.

hey hey hey portia! looks who's here! Indian style, with dollops of milk and sugar, and herbs. ty for reading.

crabbiedeah- here! sandwiches too? :)

austere said...

mago- mirror image. lovely. here, and not. reminded me of a ghost story by Tagore, though not directly.

AmitL said...

oh...yes...Dharavi..Asia's largest slum...and,it had to happen...luxury towers replacing the hutments, with a scant thought being given to the hutment dwellers...nice thought about the jasmine strands...In the long term,doesn't it apply to humans too??Grin.

PipeTobacco said...

Beautiful imagery as always, Austere! Thank you! I like your photographs as well.. I have been especially happy about the city scenes.

I notice you have an invite-only blog too (vagerah :)). Is that something I could be invited to join?

PipeTobacco

Proxima said...

mmmm, maybe when I get better at computer pictures I can make a virtual tea party for us. mmmmm

You've really got me thinking now...of course it won't have smell or taste, everyone will have to add that part on their respective ends.

much thinking now.... :)

-P

austere said...

amitl- applies to all creatures, all things fine and beautiful, all creatures great and small..yes, dharavi residents will get flats but human nature being what it is, in due course some will win and some fall, rude and horrid though it sounds. something in the nature of man.

PT- sir, vagerah is jaded, jagged and horrible. No one should want to read that. :). Thank you soo much for seeing the pics, no one sees them!

proxima- lets! what goodies shall I get? dainty or robust ?