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Sona Pujari: Street Banker
The bank now has branches all over the country. Its goals are both to save for a down payment on an eventual house, and to create an emergency credit when times are bad or if capital is needed to start up a business. But instead of going to the bank, the bank comes to the pavement dwellers, and on 14th gulli in the heart of Kamithipura-- the red light district-- the bank takes the shape of Sona Pujari, street banker extraordinaire.
18. Watching Trains Go By
Another early decision was to seek allies among the thousands who make their homes among the city's three main railroad tracks. If you sleepwalk out your front door you'll find yourself under the wheels of trains that pass ten feet away every two minutes.
A Room With A View
For Parab and thousand in the city, home is a solid wood or brick single room- illegal of course, sandwiched between live electricity wires and the main commuter railway. Running water and sewage are minimal, but Parab and Railway Slum Dwellers are now trying to become "legal" by forcing the city to hook them up to the official electricity grid, instead of tapping into someone else's line-- illegally.
Living Through the Riots
The pavement dwellers on Apna St. were miraculously immune to the bloodshed of the 19993 Hindu-Muslim riots. As Rehmat said: when you're this poor is doesn't make any sense to kill each other in the name of God. But the women used the riots to forge a new strategy, offering loans to get small businesses on their feet again, rather than food and emergency handouts. And it worked