The Elephant in the Room

India's slums coexist with her cities, in an uneasy relationship. The stories of slum dwellers reflect the casualties of urban growth

The putrid smell is the first thing that hits you. This stench is what hundreds of slum dwellers live with, every day. Onion peels, egg shells, plastic bottles, and a cocktail of unassorted garbage rot for weeks. Chemical effluents foam up the borders of a pond – which doubles as a drain. Three-wheeled trucks come and go, adding heaps of garbage to the sludge in the pond.

A little girl sifts through the plastic waste, drinking water from an old plastic bottle. Her father sifts through the garbage to see if there was anything he could sort and sell. “You want to put our photographs in the paper? Why bother?,” he asked and went on with his work. The little girl smiled at the camera and continued drinking from the bottle.

These are the stories of slum dwellers, who have spent their lifetimes here.

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