There’s a neighborhood across the street from the American Embassy School – a city block of striking poverty surrounded by embassy property. It’s best described as a slum, I suppose, or jhuggi, in Hindi. Some stories tie the beginning of the jhuggi to the workers who helped build the school 50 years ago. This is where they camped, and stayed, and gave birth to a few generations of beautiful, sometimes struggling, faces. The school reaches out to the children in the colony in many ways – there are English classes, a weekly after-school camp, an on-site library – this, and more to be a good neighbor.
When I discovered that some of the women who work at the construction site on the school grounds lived across the street, I decided to walk through the colony that I had passed every day and ignored for nearly three years.
It was mid-day on a Friday and the sidewalks were buzzing with children, most home from school during exam season. I talked with anyone who spoke English, and gestured through conversations with anyone who didn’t. I walked through narrow alleys, into homes, around corners, onto roofs.
Here’s a peek: (Sadly, I’ve lost clarity in export… will tweak when I return from a trip down to Madhya Pradesh. Stay tuned for how my children respond to the temples at Khajuraho!)