Slum: slʌm/noun: ‘A residential area where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding, lack of ventilation or sanitation facility and having drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions’.
The blue tarpaulin contrasting with the raw brick shade and patterns of handmade leaves and flowers sustaining sprinkles of love are claimed blots of the capital Delhi. The place is a kaleidoscope of changing colors and patterns of life with emotion too raw as their structures. The already imagined canvas is the lane spread living society of Vivek Vihar Slum. The Vivek Vihar slum is similie to the phrase “a hole in the wall” signifying a dull and retro ambience in the fast moving capital of Delhi.
These urban spaces with migrated rural population and carried along mindset has each household setting intact. The narrow street encompasses all living necessities with overloaded gas stoves in a shop to Champak and Ningo as copied version of the famous waffles Lays and Bingo respectively. The Ration Shop is also a witness to big quee with counted currencies in hand. The 8*9 sq feet rooms share stories of courage and trauma of at least 6 members.
The ambience both familiar and unfamiliar welcomed me with great amusement and curved smile. An old uncle recalls himself as the masterpiece of interaction due to his previous encounter with a student of probably urban studies or sociology. However a few women blindly refused for any form of interaction as my companion’s camera was too foreign for them.
The clash of horns, laughing Children, verbal advertisement of vegetables by vendors and simultaneous ringing of bells at the intricately located Balaji Temple is a bold witness to the Indianess idea. The buildings have hooks to one electric line to get electric connection to their house. However, Dish antennas are more mushroomed on the rooftop than water tankers.
The sunlight does not impregnate well in the lives of slum dwellers but the rays of hopes reach out to the children well. All the children agree to being admitted to school to pursue regular education and give jumbled up expression when asked of future aspirations . Some children respond to growing up as policemen and some as engineers. The disturbing fact was none of the girls responded to their aspirations.
The clustered buildings and narrow lanes could be real time nightmares for the claustrophobic. However, most dwellers are ignorant of people to space ratio as water and mosquito crisis is way too big a hurdle in their day to day life. However, Gangabai a homemaker and resident since 25 years digs space and water as the main hurdles to development. She finds a family of six in one room as too conjusted. Also, problems of sanitation and medical facility post chickenguinea are alarming to her.
Suresh Kumar, a ration shop owner figures out unclean drinking water as the major threat for the people’s health in the colony pushing them to fatal diseases. He also figures out that the dumping places are not provided and the vegetable vendors create a mess of the already narrow colony. The eviction plan for the Sonia Vihar for the residents of this slum has not been accorded in the due date. Despite the glooming cloud of poverty, poor hygienic condition, poor spatial arrangement of stacked buildings and more, the people of this sub urban slum seem more satisfied and content than most of us.
The ugly side is that despite of dream satellite projects being successful, sky rocketing development plans and 3 years of completion of SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN what remains a grim reality is the poor state the people of the state are dwelling in. The unauthorized colonies have proved to be blots on the fair name of India.