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Study life, study literature. Eat food. Lots of it.
Also, I use a lot of adjectives- working on that, so bear with me.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Moment of Awakening

If you're one of the people reading this blog post, chances are that you lead a privileged life. No, privileged doesn't mean that you can afford to change your phone every six months, or get a new car every second year, nor does it mean taking an international holiday every summer or being able to buy yourself a gift just because you feel like it. It means that you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll have food for your next meal. It means knowing if you're going to get clean drinking water. It means not fearing that one strong gust of wind or one heavy bout of rain could ruin your house. It means not having to calculate every penny you spend, including essential expenses, to see if you can make ends meet. Privileged means that your own governance systems will not, one fine day, just uproot you from your society and throw you elsewhere to fend for yourself. Sounds exaggerated? Its not.

Privileged world, meet Piplaj, Ahmedabad. Piplaj, meet the world, who doesn't know that you exist. What is Piplaj, you ask? This is the little-known, often neglected area of Ahmedabad where the people who previously lived in the riverfront area were 'given' rehabilitation at. If you ever need help finding the place, just ask where the Ahmedabad Sewage Dump is. The colony of the displaced is right there. As a volunteer for an NGO, I have personally been to Piplaj a number of times, and the sight never gets easier. Plastic sheets for roofs, yellow coloured drinking water, no usable washrooms, mud in every corner, mosquitos, snakes and stray dogs- these are just a few of their physical problems. Add to this constant unemployment, medical risks, poverty, crime and prostitution, the condition there is not something that you and I would be able to stomach easily, let alone be able to live in. Yet, the people here don't beg you for money when you go there, they ask if you can help them get justice. People still smile, they are beautiful. But we need to stop making them go through this in order to appreciate their strength. My objective here isn't even to draw your attention to the despicable living conditions at Piplaj- God knows that it isn't the only place in the world where the situation is such. I do however, wish to draw attention to the fact that places like this exist. 
When you peel away the glossy sheen of "Development", you find cracks- where 3000 people become a crack. In the process of making our large cities shiny and tourist friendly, we've pushed away the poor, not poverty.  We marvel at the new attractions in the city, go there for walks and picnics- take pictures there and post them on Facebook. We don't even realise that what we are using at a backdrop for our profile picture used to once be someone's home. Not only that, but in reality, we left someone to survive in inhuman conditions just so that we can take a pretty picture. How does that become development? What is our definition of development, if the lower strata of society is deprived of their needs so that the upper strata can enjoy luxuries? 

I'm not playing the blame game. Everyone, from the top to the bottom, has a part to play- both in paradise and in hell. The question is, do we realise what our part is? And are we willing to follow through with it?

Special Note: This isn't a sponsored post of any sort. Piplaj is very much real, and here is a rough draft of a photodocumentary that a friend, Falak Choksi, and I made about it- Tomorrow?

For anyone who is interested in knowing more about this matter and the lack of an Internal Displacement Policy in India, or if you'd like to help the cause, feel free to write to me or in the comment box. An educational institute also runs a small school at Piplaj, so if you feel that you can help there- through your time, funds or old books and magazines, do not hesitate. Thank you!
Also, my thoughts on this issue are many and can't be included in just one post, so rest assured, there will be more to follow in some time.


  1. of all Ahmedabad ?
    Anyways .. I am glad I know you who does and just not writes .. I have will .. I have a heart but a very small pocket , dear friend..
    Still,I would love to know .. if at all , I can .. how can I be of any help ?
    my email id is - mysayindia@yahoo.com

    1. Thanks.
      Help doesn't always even require a pocket at all. I'll write to you with so many other ways to help.

  2. Farheen, this is a good step forward in helping the people but you I both know that there are more, many more things that you have not written here. Things that often cannot be spoken of. I suggest you write that too.

    1. Thank you. And yes I know, hence the last line of the post. I just need to figure out how to control all that I feel so that I can rationally write about it.

  3. himanshutomar84@gmail.com... I stay in bangalore.. if I can be use of any use.. please do get back to me...