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Dance of the Water Spirits
A major preoccupation of all poor people in big cities is water, water for drinking and water for all the hundred and one things we do round the house-- the dishes washing clothes, cooking. Water is basic to everybody's life. But pavement dwellers, by definition, don't have taps for hot and cold. So getting water everyday is a major preoccupation. How they do it often involved considerable ingenuity, as Julian discovers in Dance of the Water Spirits.
Samina has lived on the pavement in Byculla for over twenty-five years. But, like most pavement dwellers, she's an immigrant to the city. Samina was born in Bihar, one of the poorest and most backward areas in the whole of India. Married at thirteen to Mullah, she and her husband had no land and were forced to beg to feed their stomachs. At the age of eighteen, Samina and Mullah decided enough was enough and took the slow to train to Bombay and a better life. And lost a child along the way.
3. We, The Invisible
If Bombay's such an economic success story, how come so many of the newcomers have to make their homes on the street? Why can't they find proper housing? What gives? Is it the fault of poor city planning? Callous indifference? Or both? If the city seems indifferent maybe its because the Pavement Dwellers are We, the Invisible.
Water St, USA
Pavement Dwellers may be officially classified as homeless. But most of them are neither beggars, nor are they on welfare. Maybe because there is no state welfare in India. The country couldn't afford it. Most pavement dwellers work, some occasionally, some full-time. In the streets surrounding the Khatau Mills in Byculla there are enough small businesses to fill a separate phone directory, producing all the things we take for granted and that keep a sophisticated urban economy functioning smoothly. Today, Julian's invited to have lunch with his friend Sakina and makes a surprising discovery in Water St, USA.