Of the many things that fascinate me about slum life, this one makes it to the top 3 - slum dwellers of Bombay keeping pet animals in their 10 by 10 rooms. In this case, in their makeshift houses by the highway.
The highway kids had always been especially interesting. We had heard of how some parents take the kids to the nearby public washrooms and get them ready for school. Today we learnt about the same, firsthand.
This lot has access to an AC washroom which charges Rs 15 for taking a bath and Rs 5 for using the toilet. This family of 7, like so many others who live alongside them, keeps their belongings in the 'houses' by the road, and sleepson the footpaths when it doesn't rain, or under the bridges when it does. When it is cold, they share 3 blankets between the 7 of them. Two nights back the 20-year old son got into a fit of rage and 'broke down' their house. The 14 year old in the house was collecting their belongings so that the sole earning member could come 'home' and rebuild it.
In the midst of all this, a family car pulled up and started to hand out clothes. Everyone ran and snatched whatever they could. "New clothes" for tomorrow's Ganpati Visarjan festivities.
And then one by one they introduced us to their pets. A 6-year-old ran into her 'house' and brought out a one month old puppy and the packet of milk it drinks. The little one here obliged us with a picture with their family dog. "He eats with us everyday. When we make daal and rice, we give it to him too."