As I said in the earlier blog post, the people in the first “Hollywood” slum seemed to be optimistic, and united against the common enemy. However, in the other places that we visited, the same cannot be said.
After a traditional Gujarati lunch, we took a 30 minute rickshaw ride to the very edge of Ahmedabad. Because I was so full from the lunch, I closed my eyes for a short time in the rickshaw. One moment we were in the city, where everything smells like spice, with a small amount of exhaust. When I opened my eyes, I smelled chemicals. It felt like we had completely left the city. There were warehouses, and smokestacks that rose into the sky.
The rickshaws took a turn off the main road, and there was row after row of warehouses, with not a person in sight. Then, huge gray concrete angular buildings appeared out of nowhere. Honestly, I felt that it was a bit futuristic, in a bad way. The buildings looked modern and functional, but the society was not as advanced as the buildings seemed to be. The buildings were very imposing, and seemed to be the complete opposite of the community we had visited a mere 2 hours ago.
When we got there, people began to crowd around us, much like the earlier community. Small trundle-like beds were brought out for us to sit on, while on lookers crowded around us to listen to the conversation Beena Mam was starting. The whole conversation was in Gujarati, so the interns only understood what was being translated for us. We heard them talking about how they got uprooted from their homes on the riverfront, and the community that they belonged to. Many of them did domestic work in homes nearby. But because of their relocation and where they are now, the cost of going back into the city for work is more than what they would actually be making. This forces them to work in the factories, which are very dangerous, and they do not know how to navigate. Their water is extremely dangerous, and makes them sick. It was a lot to take in as an outsider, and as someone who is not in the powerful position to help them.
As a team, we all felt that there was some miscommunication to the people on what our role there was. While we were just visiting, the people may have misinterpreted “foreigners” with “help”. While they were telling us about all their hardships, we felt as though there was nothing that we could actually do. Debriefing with the team this morning, I think we all felt better discussing the point of the field trip, which was not to feel pitiful about how we can’t immediately help them, but savor the fact that ultimately, the more people that know about their hardships and spread the word is better than none.