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Experience life in Mumbai’s slums

Mumbai's slum life is worth experiencing
Image courtesy: ©David Bijl

It’s great news for those who enjoy getting under the skin of the place and experience it the way locals do. Mumbai now offers a chance to do that by staying in a slum in the heart of the city.

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Ravi Sansi has thrown open the doors of his one-room home in a slum in Golibar Road in Khar East, where he stays with 16 family members. Guests will be put up in a converted loft with a single mattress, an air conditioner and a flat screen television. However, the toilet is shared and outside the house. If guests want to eat in his home, his family will rustle up a meal or they can dine at restaurants nearby. The cost: Rs. 2000/night.

The unusual initiative was born after a Dutch traveller, David Bijl, happened to stay at Ravi Sansi’s home for a night when he was stuck in bad traffic. That’s when the idea struck him, says Ravi.


Exterior of Ravi Sansi’s home
Exterior of Ravi Sansi’s home
Image courtesy: ©David Bijl

Ravi Sansi is a worker at a factory where the NGO, for which David works, produces cooking stoves. He was a bit hesitant thinking that tourists would not want to stay in a slum. But David Bijl explained that many travellers enjoy interacting with the local community, which does not happen when their experience is restricted to known tourist spots.

Ravi Sansi’s rudimentary knowledge of English will help him communicate with the guests while David Bijl will take care of the bookings through their Facebook page.

Foreign visitors are no strangers to Mumbai’s vast slums. Walking tours of Dharavi, the city’s biggest slum, have become popular with tourists who get to see that although living conditions may be tough in a slum, it is also a vibrant community of hardworking and honest people.

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