Mumbai, is often branded as the commercial capital of India. Like every Indian, I am a bigtime Bolly freak. Last month, I was in the city for 4 days to flee from freezing in Delhi. I prefer to be at less explored places, but friends had planned something else and I had to comply. Mumbai’s crowd is as good as Delhi, population explosion, literally. Constant honking, sea of people and ocean of traffic! I did not know it then, that my short trip will be so colorful, thanks to crafted day excursions highlighting real India and paying ode to Bollywood.
We loved ‘ The Lunchbox’ which released in 2013. It was a busy Monday morning and four of us decided to be a part of the crowd to checkout the vast chain of Mumbai’s tiffin delivery industry. For those who have watched the film know who dabbawalas (people in charge of delivery) are. This was not a usual thing that tourists do, hence I’d request them to give it a shot. These dabbawalas deliver over 1,50,000 lunch boxes carrying home-cooked meals at various offices, daily. The Herculean task takes off from Churchgate Railway Station wherein each on them lift the tiffin boxes on a wooden cart and de-board at Mahalaxmi station. From whatever I saw, the reason behind their success is careful timing, teamwork and coding the boxes before distribution. Most of them stack bicycles with up to 25 boxes and deliver them at respective tables in offices, bang on time. Every detail was highlighted on reel and I was glad to note the marvelous detailing after being with them.
The following day, we headed to Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, branded as the largest open air laundry in the world. This has a Bolly connect too, thanks to ‘Dhobi Ghat’, which released in 2010. Dhobis are traditional laundrymen washing dirt off city’s clothes. There are over 200 dhobi families in the area, cleaning clothes on concrete wash pens, fitted with a flogging stone. It is quite a sight to watch people of all ages toiling hard to make an honest living. These washermen clean the dirty linen, neatly iron them and deliver them at every doorstep.
Happiness does not multiply with money, this is what we realized better after visiting Dharavi. Oscar winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ dealt with lives of urchins from this mammoth slum. Destitution and poverty are what we looked beyond. An amazing idea of social networking was visible among children, playing around, giggling, running through narrow by-lanes. This is India! The opulence and glamour of Hindi film industry is in the same city, yet Dharavi is so diverse. Slum dwellers here usually engage themselves in pottery, recycling and embroidery. Females often work as domestic helps. These people are content and self-made. Even Prince Charles and Bill Clinton had graced the place with their visit.
There are plenty of tourists who venture out on a Bollywood tour, visit studios, meet stars shooting on spot, spectacle a live shoot (can be a feature film, daily soap or commercial), click endless pictures after star spotting, watch an entertaining film in world class theatre. For those who want a different India, visit the unsung heroes from Dharavi, Mahlaxmi Dhobi Ghat, dabbawalas. Cheers to their indomitable spirit!.