Paradise in a slum?

I just watched Kevin McLoud’s documentary ‘Slumming it’ on Dharavi
If you missed it last week, please watch it on iView.

http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/program/659866

They live together in squalid unhygienic conditions, but genuinely seem more happy than many westerners I know.  I think it is because they have, through sheer necessity, rediscovered what the individualistic west has lost… community. We have completely forgotten what community is and means, how it feels in daily life, how it breathes.

No one in Dharavi is lonely. No one. Everyone lives in the most intense levels of community. 3 generations of men will sit in the street after work and chat. The elderly, the workers, and the children and youth all respect each other and chat away after the day’s work. Crime is low. Young ladies can walk home at 1 o’clock in the morning and feel safe, because there are always so many eyes everywhere watching everything.

We’ve totally lost that. A ‘chat’ with our parents or in-laws is something we have to plan, involving a thing we call a ‘visit’. Here, it happens naturally in the street because of the sheer human contact forced on them by 1 million people living in 1 square mile. I wouldn’t want to recommend those ratios, but the New Urbanist’s can fit 1 million people into 40 square miles, unlike today’s suburbia which requires an OBSCENE 400 square miles!

Also surprising is something even the most right wing free-market capitalist would love, they have their own billion dollar factory industry! 85% of people in Dharavi have work!

Please watch the iView online today and then watch Part 2 of “Slumming it” tomorrow night, ABC1 at 8:30.

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3 Responses to Paradise in a slum?

  1. specialletters says:

    A fun show – considerably worse than slums I’ve seen in India but then biggest city I visited was Chenai (Madras)
    Yes people are happy – and learn to live together. I much enjoyed Kevin trying to sit cross legged to eat.
    The big thing in India is people have work – I remember westerners getting upset because a local called to someone to come pour a water for them BUT the water man did have a job. Even though the pay may just cover a day’s rice and rent.
    Was that millionaire Kevin visited exploiting his workers. If he is not paying tax then is he “exploiting” the government. But he appeared on the program so I assume he was not worried about the police visiting.

    When they moved Londoners to modern blocks of flats from their rows of terrace houses they lost the friendly life in the street. Of course those no longer modern blocks are now a mess and frequently shown as places of crime etc in UK police shows.

    Tonight’s second show is a MUST view

  2. eclipsenow says:

    Interesting observations on the London terrace house community. That’s what New Urbanist’s are basically trying to recapture. It seems like society has tried these new ‘modern’ ideas of badly designed flats and isolated suburban places, and have learnt our lesson.

    However, that Dhavari doco sure helped me appreciate the services our local councils provide in safe side-walks and garbage collection. I also really like having hot showers, cold beer, flush toilets and a clean bed!

  3. specialletters says:

    2nd show and poor Kevin – has to watch these scavengers sorting rubbish in a dump as the stuff came off the truck. All reminded me of Dickens London “Pure Collectors” http://www.yourdiscovery.com/history/worst_jobs/victorian/index.shtml

    Now they really recycle stuff. Amazing.
    Kevin touched on similar to what I posted about the 1960s move of Londoners to flats.
    A great show on Urban planning concepts

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