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,


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Being vulnerable and daring greatly - some excerpts

Let this blog find you ‘daring greatly’!! and being courageous to express who you are in all walks of your life.


We could resonate with it totally. She talked about how courage, compassion, connection and wholehearted living was a result of authenticity, vulnerability, willing to be seen and showing up. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.

We recently read her book ‘daring greatly’. I found the book very relevant in current times. A must read for parents, teachers & all those who wish to express themselves. She gives examples from her research as well as personal experiences dealing with her daughter & son, some very delicately handled events that led to lot more courage and self-expression.

She also distinguished – when you encounter a disturbing event/ mistake; you have 2 choices to conclude:
  1. I made a bad choice v/s
  2. I am a bad person

Can you separate the event from who you are? 1st view can lead to learning and course correction, 2nd view becomes a declaration and then a reality.

I am giving below some very profound excerpts of the book:

  1. Fitting in v/s belonging as defined by children
  2. A declaration/ manifesto to be wholehearted parents.

Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.


When I asked a large group of eighth graders to break into small teams and come up with the differences between FITTING IN and BELONGING, their answers floored me:

  • Belonging is being somewhere where you want to be, and they want you.
  • Fitting in is being somewhere where you really want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.
  • Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.
  • I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in. They nailed the definitions.
It doesn’t matter where in the country I ask this question, or what type of school I’m visiting, middle and high school students understand how this works. They also talk openly about the heartache of not feeling a sense of belonging at home. That first time I asked the eighth graders to come up with the definitions, one student wrote, “Not belonging at school is really hard. But it’s nothing compared to what it feels like when you don’t belong at home.” When I asked the students what that meant, they used these examples:
  • Not living up to your parents’ expectations
  • Not being as cool or popular as your parents want you to be
  • Not being as smart as your parents
  • Not being good at the same things your parents were good at
  • Your parents being embarrassed because you don’t have enough friends or you’re not an athlete or a cheerleader
  • Your parents not liking who you are and what you like to do
  • When your parents don’t pay attention

  • Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
  • I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.
  • You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
  • We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.
  • We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
  • You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
  • I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
  • I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
  • When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
  • Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
  • We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
  • As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
  • I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

Excerpts from DARING GREATLY by Brené Brown

May this mail and the book make you & people around you dare greatly and live wholeheartedly!!

Warm regards,