Thursday, 29 November 2012

An Indian trip

Brr! Britain feels cold.
I’ve just returned from a gloriously hot India where I was promoting Secrets of the Henna Girl. Thank you to Penguin India for organising the book signings across Mumbai.

 At the Kitab Khana bookshop at Flora Fountain in Mumbai.
Gorgeous old world style decor inside. Would recommend all book lovers to visit if ever in Mumbai.

In a rickshaw in Bandra, Mumbai.
I also spent time conducting research for my new book. 
My as yet untitled novel is part set in Mumbai and part set in London. My main character resides in an area which much of the world would call a ‘slum’ but which its residents actually call a ‘township’ in the heart of Mumbai.
Dharavi is the place. Here are some pics that I took on my visit. 

A regular home in Dharavi

No room to sit inside the 6 by 4 home
The kitchen inside

A queue for kerosene fuel

Dharavi mosque...most residents are Muslim

 This is Laxmi who works for the Acorn Foundation. She is a single mother who lives in a 6 by 4 space which she calls home. Her daughter attends the local government school and hope to become a doctor one day. One of the most surprising discoveries of my visit was the aspirations held by the residents. Despite their humble origins, the people I met were dreaming and working for a better life. 

Thank you to Vinod Shetty for answering all my questions and helping me make sense of the contradiction that is Dharavi. 

Vinod leads a project called Acorn Foundation which encourages young slum kids who work as ragpickers to get involved in activities like football, art and music, and then veer them towards education. If you’d like to make a donation to encourage slum children to read and write, see their website:

A library provided by Acorn Foundation

Slum kids expressing themselves through art