06 Dec 2007

     Mumbai was once a collection of small Koli fishing villages.  Today, … with 17 million inhabitants, … it is India’s largest city and its richest city.  It is wealth and influence that fuels its metamorphosis.  The transformation continues throughout the city as new office buildings and apartments replace old and unsightly structures. 

 The buildings are masonry construction but there are no big trucks to deliver the cement and no high lift cranes to hoist the thousands of tons of materials up to each increasingly higher level.  Instead, it is the muscles and sweat of the workers that do this job.  One by one the small parcels of material are hoisted up, … up, … up and put into place.

 Standing on flimsy scaffolds, workers finish the outside of the buildings.  Even though they daily face risks to their health and lives; they are glad to have a job to provide for their daily needs. There are some large and some small scaffolds but all are made from long bamboo poles tied together with rope.  Whether used in the construction of marble temples or the construction of homes, it is all done the same way  As the construction proceeds, each floor is supported by hundreds of wood poles as the concrete cures.  The poles are removed after about 30 days and are used for the next floor.

 As new construction is continually replacing the old dilapidated structures in the slums, residents must vacate their homes.  Fortunately for the displaced families, the government requires that a few rooms in the new construction be provided free of charge. 

 Mumbai will continue to grow in this manner as shiny new buildings spring up alongside slums.  Often, the ground seems to moan, as if knowing that soon it will never again see the light of day.  The slums will … before long …  be replaced by progress, … by wealth, … by a city that grows in economic prosperity and influence throughout India as well as the world.  The metamorphosis is a slow and painful process.  Even as a butterfly leaves behind its shell, so it is with the laborers and servants in this modern metropolis.  All are left behind to endure life with scarcely enough to survive.  Their destiny is to always remain the laborers and servants to those above them in a glittering city.




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