Dharavi Slum, Mumbai

Think “Slum Dog Millionaire” This is the slum which the movie claims as home. However, very little footage was shot here due to the tight spaces. Most filming was done in other slums or on Bollywood sets. Mumbai is the Hollywood of the Indian film industry.

The Dharavi slum is the largest of Mumbai’s numerous slums. It is the size of one half of Central Park in NYC and has a population of roughly 1.5 million people (double the population of San Francisco). One million are permanent residents and 500,000 are laboring transients. The slum is a city unto itself. Most live and work within the slum. The landlord is the government, charging rent and taxes. Mumbai real estate is the most expensive in India, hence rents are high. Residents of the slum pay about $100-150 USD a month. The residents pay once a year for water, and monthly for electricity. The one shortcoming is sewage. There is one flush toilet for every 2,000 people.

The main income source is processing recycled products. Paint, plastics, soap, etc. are all recycled in the slum in their “business areas. This slum exports over $700,000,000 a year of goods. The majority of areas are residential which we could not photograph. The alleyways between buildings were dark and about 30” wide. Every 10-15 ft. was a front door. The apartments are about 100-200 square feet. Children played in these narrow alleyways. Did a lot of hi’s, and fist pumps. Hundreds of hello smiles.

An amazing experience of how the world lives. Unlike the Slumdog movie, we have not seen a blinded or deformed child begging. There are no more beggars here than Bangkok and those are few and far between.

Tomorrow we fly to Cochin in Kerala state to begin our road trips through tea plantation country.


On  rooftop where cleaned plastic products are dried and sacked.


Recycled products bagged.


Sorting plastics by color.
Walking streets in slum.
Photo op taken by our guide.
Congested street scene.



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