Monday, 24 March 2014

Hidden Treasure - Dharavi tour with insiders

Let this blog find you discovering many hidden treasures around you!!

Few days back a friend posted a video:

It is a 2 minute video, very touching & inspiring. Two childhood buddies, Fahim & Tausif, born and brought up in Dharavi, started a unique tour “BE THE LOCAL”  (BTL) to show people Dharavi the way they see it and dispel the myths about it!!

I met both of them and heard about their roller coaster journey since 2010. They hire college students and train them to work part-time as tour guides. The story of many such student guides, whose lives were transformed in the process touched me. They have become more confident, with wider level of awareness, and are funding higher education out the money earned as a guide. Tausif & Fahim’s dream is to expand this context across the world and help local students to think beyond their limitations. They also organize regular counselling sessions for youth at Dharavi to inspire them, take an informed choice about education and an honourable career.

BTL has received amazing feedbacks from visitors on Trip Advisor: (115 so far: 111 excellent, 4 good). Do read some of them, they echo what we experienced. Many have mentioned that it was the highlight of their entire India trip!

On 22 March 2014, I went on a 2.5 hour tour with Razaaq, one of their guides. We were total 5 people (2 men, 3 women). He was full of enthusiasm, information & pride about Dharavi. Razaaq knew most of the people around. I noticed lots of enthusiasm and positivity. Everyone was busy in their own life, without cribbing, crying, begging. Lots of bubbly enthusiastic kids, some even engaged the two German ladies in our group in a conversation in English. One kid offered us the chips he had. A little baby smiled and waved at us! We found the tour totally safe.

Dharavi is highly self-sufficient. In addition to various factories that make stuff, there are others that repair and make machines for these factories.

We saw recycling factories for plastic, aluminium, paint cans etc; others that made khaari(biscuit), soap; leather tanneries, fabric dyeing & design painting shop in that short trip. A place which had statues & symbols of all religions signifying secular nature of the place. We came to know that Dharavi has 13 legislature constituencies. Its annual turnover is approx $1billion. It recycles 60% of Mumbai’s garbage.

All in all an eye opening trip. I would highly recommend it, if you are already in Mumbai or on your next Mumbai visit. BTL contact details are on their website:

Warm regards,


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