These pictures are taken en route my jogging track.. about a stones throw away from my house. Let me put things in perspective...this small area these kids are playing is reclaimed land, which used to be mangroves, to be redeveloped for a club house. There is a small fencing segregating the area these kids can play in from the jogging track-semi playground.
A look at the kids from elite South Mumbai families fortunate enough to be playing in the playground ... all of them would, needless to say be dressed in the best of clothes, most wearing the new fad among kids - crocs for footwear. (crocs cost no less than 800-1500 rs even in the kids range). All kids have their aayah's (maids) accompanying, and less than 3 feet away from them, monitoring their every move, fervently wiping dirty hands, cushioning a fall and other such activities within then realm of 'taking care of the child'. Each child has his or her own sand basket, skipping rope or some other fancy toy, swinging on dinosaur swings or the T-Rex slides... with neat little matching clips in hair, disney water bottles in short, each thing they own is monogrammed, branded or some form of exclusive.
The pictures of the kids above is from the slum nearby, who have made the Ganesh idol from mud, and worship it everyday with the accompanying music (provided by beating wooden sticks on stones and chants), dance around the idol. Been watching them since a few days, finally curiosity overcame and i hopped over and had a look at the Ganesh. The picture does not do justice to what these children have made. There are tiny flowers, buttons and other scrap adorning him... he's never left alone, always guarded by at least one child.
I am fascinated with street children. It takes sheer ingenuity, or possibly forceful circumstances to spend an hour playing with a broken rubber tyre or a few sticks and stones and be that engrossed, and happy.... I told these kids Id come give them printouts of the pictures upon which i was asked 'Aunty aap bhoologi nahi na?' (Aunty u wont forget right?), of course i cringed at the word 'Aunty' :) but whats there, my phone was tossed around 15 hands looking curiously at their pictures in it. These kids who on an average mustve been about years made for a truly Happy smile on my face.
When i first asked if i could take a pictue, they were a little skeptical... after all how many of us 'rich people' really bother to take notice and even spend a minute asking them their names, let alone taking pictures. Initial cynicism once surpassed, they were more than happy to pile into a photo and give me bigg grins.
It saddens me... these children are exposed to the other children in the park.. with their expensive clothes and fancy waterbottles and playing on colourful swing sets. How do you tell a four - five year old child that those swings are out of bounds? Your not allowed to swing because u live in the slum? would he even understand what rich and poor is?
Having said that, these children are content with their rubber typre hung off a tree. I didnt see a Single face looking at the park with the other children wishing he or she could be there, and for that Im glad.