All posts by smcsfootnotes2015

‘Zameen Hamari Aapki, Nahi Kisi Ke Baap Ki’

By Saurabh Kumar

In May 2015, I spent 36 days with the protesting people of Mandala, a former slum basti in Mankhurd, Mumbai which had been bulldozed ten years ago by the state government on account of it allegedly being an illegal construction. The former residents of Mandala had returned to reclaim their land – their protest was marked by zesty slogans, banners, songs and most remarkably, hope that the city would this time listen to their plea and offer them legal tenure to the land they considered home.

This photo essay captures a few shades of that protest.

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When Home is a Hostel  

By Tarishi Verma and Swati K.

Whenever we go out, a simple question often creeps into conversations, “When are you going home?” For hostel students, it’s no different except that we make a home out of one bed and half a wall in a tiny room. A hostel room is often shared between two, sometimes three or four or even more people. But each of its inhabitants puts in effort to make it ‘like home.’ From decorating the walls to keeping it incredibly messy, every act demarcates ‘personal space.’ And even among the tiny personal space, there will be a magical public space. In a room with four people, these demarcations are sharp. Where one side of the room maybe spick and span, another area would make a cleanliness freak cringe – you may as well draw a line. Where one wall would be empty, the other can be full of pictures and a third would be full of notes. But together, the same hostel space becomes a home away from home.

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Surekha Ka Ghar

By Tanvi Khemani

It has been over seven years since Surekha and her family moved into the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) building at Aarey Milk Colony. Her 1-Hall-Kitchen apartment (where the hall becomes a bedroom at night) covers only 225 square-feet, but houses four adults. It is small by most standards but the family has mastered the art of organizing their lives to fit into a cramped space.

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The SRA buildings at Arey Milk Colony in Mumbai
Surekha's is one of the many buildings in the SRA compound.
Surekha’s is one of the many buildings in the SRA compound.
The common letter box for her building.
The common letter box for her building.
A dream deferred - their elevator is still under construction.
A dream deferred – their elevator is still under construction.
Her love for flowers and her husband’s devotion to the Hindu goddesses is apparent as you enter their apartment
Her love for flowers and her husband’s devotion to the Hindu goddesses is apparent as you enter their apartment
Surekha making tea in her tiny but spotless kitchen.
Surekha making tea in her tiny but spotless kitchen.
The toilet has been cleverly concealed behind the picture of a waterfall.
The toilet has been cleverly concealed behind the picture of a waterfall.
The view from their window is perpetually obstructed by clothes kept out to dry.
The view from their window is perpetually obstructed by clothes kept out to dry.
Many of the SRA buildings in the compound lie vacant as the rehabilitated communities refused to move in, complaining about the lack of basic amenities.
Many of the SRA buildings in the compound lie vacant as the rehabilitated communities refused to move in, complaining about the lack of basic amenities.

The Watchmen

Akshay Panse and Geetha K. Wilson

In the busy life of a metro, rarely do we pause to notice the different bodies inside the identical uniforms. The watchmen who guard and secure our apartment complexes, themselves enjoy very little economic and social security. The work of a security guard is tiring and often thankless. Even though these guards spend 8 to 12 hours per day on the job, many only have a stick and a chair to keep them company. In this photo essay, we have tried to capture the human face behind the uniforms that guard our gates.

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Finding home under the Mankhurd fly over

Vishal Langthasa & Arjun Chavah

Some roofs are small, some are big and we bring you the story of two families  enjoying the luxuries of a huge elongated roof which they generously share with many others.

The roof is the Mankhurd fly over, which is also lovingly called Mankhurd Bridge, located in the suburb of Eastern Mumbai. Ashok’s three-member family and Geeta’s six-member family live under the portion of the fly over just near Maharashtra Nagar area. Forty-year-old Ashok’s small family, from Maharashtra’s Beed district, comprises of his wife and father-in-law. They had lived under the Mankhurd flyover for just 15 days when we interviewed them. They used to live on the streets of Fort earlier but due to repeated hounding by the police they chose to head eastwards.

On the other hand, 30-year-old Geeta and her family have been associated with the bridge for over 15 years now. Although most of Geeta’s time is spent under the bridge selling puffed rice, she claims that they live in a little shanty just beside the bridge. Geeta’s husband Ganesh has a disabled right arm, thus Geeta has more responsibilities on her shoulders. They came to Mumbai from Banaras in search of a living in 1999. Geeta and Ganesh have two daughters and two sons.

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Life in a BDD chawl

By Radhika Agarwal

The Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawls in Worli are a set of about 121 buildings which were developed in 1920 by the colonial government to provide low cost housing to workers in the city. A barrack like structure with long corridors and common bathrooms at the end of it, these chawls have a close connection to the city’s working class and Dalit movement histories.

Today different communities of people reside here, predominantly Dalit Ambedkarites and state government employees – mostly police personnel. With their close proximity to the Lower Parel office district, the Worli chawls are now being eyed by developers for redevelopment projects. Some parts of the area are already in the process of being redeveloped and one can see tall isolated buildings juxtaposed next to the traditional chawls with their focus on community-based life.

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Abandoned Hopes

By Shreya Sachan and Sujata Sarkar

It’s surprising that for a city where people yearn for a roof over their heads, Mumbai has a fair amount of abandoned buildings, crumbling edifices, and vacant land plots. The reasons are plenty: buildings under legal or other dispute – usually between landlords/redevelopers and tenants and their heirs or the state and citizens; forsaken redevelopment of plots especially when the developer runs out of cash; or abandoned just due to plain old bad luck. For this photo essay, we visited three sites. The first one was a house in Chembur where a sole woman tenant rebuked us for shooting pictures of her house. The second one was a shut-down hospital in Koparkhairane, now a site for petty criminal activity and obscene graffiti.  The third site was a Transit camp for displaced families at Mankhurd.

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High Court order

Hospital Navi Mumbai 2

Hospital Navi Mumbai

Transit Camp

Transit Camp 2