Depressed in Dharavi

22 June 2016

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On 60-feet Road, the main road into the Dharavi mega-slum, medical practitioners of various backgrounds offer a variety of services. This might include conventional medicine, but may also include Unani medicine, which can include the practice of bone-setting.

Houses in Dharavi consist of a downstairs room less than three metres squared which is used as a kitchen and sleeping area. If a family can afford it they will build an upstairs, accessed by a very steep metal ladder fixed to the outside of the property: a frequent cause of strains, sprains and breakages. As space is so tight in Dharavi, the upper floor can sometimes be used to generate a rental income.

None of the houses in this mega-slum have their own water supply or toilet facilities. Residents instead must use communal services: foul, over-used (and under-maintained) toilets via narrow, unlit alleyways. This is a cause of great concern, especially to women and children needing to access these facilities at night.

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Aarathi Prasad is a biologist and writer.

Find out more about In the Bonesetter’s Waiting Room, published by Wellcome Collection and Profile Books.