Home Sketch Chawls of Mumbai: “The Social Community”, Mumbai (India) by USK Mumbai

Chawls of Mumbai: “The Social Community”, Mumbai (India) by USK Mumbai


Once we started brainstorming on concepts for a reportage proposal from USK Mumbai, we evaluated many elements of Mumbai that had been distinctive to town and its working tradition – a metropolis recognized for its quick paced and at instances “cutthroat” work ethic, its capability to spring again from horrible pure calamities like floods or man-made ones like terrorist assaults, a metropolis that’s mentioned to be a melting pot of cultures, professions, languages, a metropolis that’s extra practical than poetic, extra matter of truth than ethereal fairy. 



How do you seize the essence of such a vibrant metropolis with anyone subject?! After which it struck us, the chawls of Mumbai had been the right metaphor for town, they’d grown as town grew, they’d flourished as town did with its commercialization and had been now dying as town brings on a brand new glitzy high-rise pores and skin to put on. 



In a way, documenting life in chawls was our probability to see Mumbai in a complete new gentle, to see its human facet from up shut, to see town’s struggles and hustle, to expertise lives lived in cubby holes – identical to nearly all of Mumbai does. And so, we got down to doc the human tales in chawls.


We reviewed plenty of current literature on the origins, historical past and socio-political relevance of chawls. Particularly, we reviewed a e-book by Arch. Neera Adarkar et al on Chawls of Bombay, spoke to _______  and realized that the story we wished to inform was not of its wonderful pastbut of its vibrant current – the human tales of discovering happiness and contentment, of ambition and hustle, of kindness and pleasure. Every go to to recce a chawl solely cemented these tales additional. 



All wasn’t hunky dory, chawl residents have been on the receiving finish of plenty of political misrepresentation, of builder curiosity in usurping prime actual property, and this made them cautious of strangers of their midst. We needed to domesticate contacts, set up our credentials as a not-for-profit enterprise, to create belief to enter these personal areas, however as soon as this was established, we discovered all chawl residents so curious, so giving and open to strangers of their midst that they routinely provided us meals, invited us for celebrations and shared personal tales with out inhibition. 



Originally, we put out ideas on what we wished the reportage to cowl – the structure, the festivals, the professions, however throughout the first few visits itself it was clear, we couldn’t inhibit how the story was coming collectively organically. A number of reporters and their distinctive views additionally meant that the tales couldn’t be strictly compartmentalized, and the sweetness was within the discovery of what they discovered fairly than going in search of ‹particular issues!


Within the month of July, we began planning sketch walks in such a manner that we might cowl as many chawls as attainable till December. Since most Indian festivals start within the month of August, we appeared for chawls that had distinctive methods of celebrating these or had been recognized for his or her celebrations. On the finish of all our sketch walks, we had a physique of labor that encompassed ____ sketches from ___ artists and over ____ tales gathered throughout ___ months. 



Radhika Bawa

Healthtech Entrepreneur and artist at giant ! Have been a daily city sketcher since 2020. Mom of two grown up boys and till not too long ago, pet guardian to Ginger. I’m a lefty! A marathoner in addition to a educated classical dancer. A jack of all trades if you’ll.  


As somebody born and introduced up in Mumbai and extra particularly within the Maharashtrian neighbourhood of Dadar which is dotted with chawls, I keep in mind visiting many a associates’ houses in chawls. I keep in mind the open balconies the place we might stand and watch busy market streets. So I jumped on the probability to assist visually doc this slice of my childhood. Going to chawls and collaborating in sketch-walks helped me relive a few of these reminiscences and likewise see the crumbling chawls in a complete new gentle.


Anita Alvares Bhatia 

I’m Anita Alvares Bhatia, have been part of Usk since 2017. Porto was my first symposium. I  love city sketching! When one seems at Mumbai, it will get its identification and character from its residents, the meals, the by no means die spirit, its ‘I can cope with any problem thrown at me strategy’,  the native trains, BEST buses, the ocean entrance, the ports, the forests in the course of town with its leopards, cricket performed within the streets – Chawls are this very intrinsic a part of Mumbai’s coronary heart like all this stuff its the place the individuals who introduced in industrialisation to town lived. I wished this to be our challenge and was thrilled when it was chosen as such. Being part of the challenge gave me an opportunity to indicate the world their magnificence, the superior individuals who keep there, the spirit they carry, their coronary heart.  I wished to depict all this via my sketches. I even have an curiosity of their their historical past, tradition and social elements and this challenge gave me a chance to get fingers on.

Once I sketch I turn into one with the environment, the sounds, the smells, stimuli being absorbed in my little world and us changing into one. Sketching on the chawls bought me out of my consolation zone, I’m not very   conversational and the one option to get behind the facade was to get to know the individuals. Making conversations, interacting and connecting with the residents to convey out their tales. I loved these moments. Beloved them and found I even have some reportage expertise! Its been a improbable expertise.

What you have no idea of me..I truly dream that I’m sketching, many a instances I’m dreaming of going sketching. The pandemic has not helped there! The scratch of the pen on paper, the wetness of paint is so vivid in my desires. It feels so actual that after I awake up and I sketch!

The preliminary phases of the challenge known as for networking to construct up a contact listing and establish potential places. I began with a empty listing. Slowly and steadily I discovered individuals who might accommodate us to sketch at their chawl, or at a pal’s chawl, or a location the place I might sketch the chawl from. Residents who had been open to speak to me of their life within the chawl, their challenges, their households and historical past. Doing this throughout the pandemic and within the peak of the 2nd wave was one other hurdle. There was concern of the unknown, belief wanted to be constructed. I ventured out, I used to be pushed. At instances scared, however was optimistic… in a perception that every one is effectively

Within the rising up years I’ve stayed in a chawl too, my dad and mom like probably the most a part of the inhabitants in Mumbai had been migrants from one other State, metropolis. As just a little woman I had a carefree childhood residing in a Chawl after which in neighborhood of many a chawls. I had a lot enjoyable and have such lovely  reminiscences. The sketches on the chawls is a tribute to the cherished childhood days.



Tanay kumar

I Joined USK in June 2020

Mumbai is a port metropolis and being on the coronary heart of buying and selling trade which dates again 100 years again has a tremendous story to inform. These tales are embedded throughout the lives of people that constructed this wonderful city. Chawls of mumbai are in all probability the place most of firsts occurred.. whether or not it was begin of a political get together or celebrations of a competition. Being part of this reportage gave me a chance to seize all of those first hand.

I slept at one of many native stations of mumbai repeatedly for two nights after I first got here into town. It made me really feel secure as mumbai lived as much as to its expectation of a metropolis that by no means sleeps.

I come from a small city Jamshedpur and strolling Into mega metropolis Mumbai for me was like a dream. Over time I constructed up a picture of mumbai and the life round it, however The lives within the Chawls was very in contrast to what I had ever skilled in Mumbai. The chemistry between the neighbours, the hospitality and the nice and cozy welcoming atmosphere simply embraces you. I loved the facet of mumbai which I believed by no means existed.


Zainab Tambawalla 

I’ve been a member of Usk since 2017. The thought of a reportage in serving to unearth the true tales, is one thing I skilled throughout my final proposal. So when this chance got here by, I wasn’t going to let it go unexplored. Since 20 years of residing within the metropolis, I’ve skilled Mumbai’s visible character to be a skinny steadiness between the previous and the brand new. The chawls are an enormous a part of that character. By means of the length of the proposal, I seen what number of chawls truly made up Mumbais panorama. The fantastically adorned balconies, the colourful clotheslines, the chaotic but lovely muddle exterior every house, the whole lot seems prefer it has a narrative to inform. 

I believe every sketch stroll to each chawl was memorable merely due to the heat with which we had been greeted. Residents had been keen and took nice pleasure in sharing the tales of their area and their life.




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