We visited a fishing village that is located on the sea side of the Bhandra neighbourhood , which is a posh neighbourhood with coffee shops, a dog park, a jogging lane, and lovely promenades along the sea. Where Bhandra didn’t look beautiful was on the sea side – you could see piles of garbage, sewage coming through pipes into mangroves, and this fishing village where dogs and pigs scavenged through the garbage.
We divided up into small groups and had conversations with inidivuals and asked them their thoughts on where they live. Many expressed a deep love of where they live , mainly due to the beauty of being by the sea. People were more than fishermen, other jobs included teacher, sandwich-seller, fence-maker. One 12-year-old girl showed us her home and told us about her family and school and that she wants to be a doctor some day. Very little was said by them about waste or sanitation. There have been efforts in the past to clean up the beach but that hasn’t lasted, and they open defecate outside among the litter. They have built community spaces for themselves, like a shelter for hanging out in during the rains and a cover over their water source.
It felt a bit at first as if we were being voyeuristic and judgmental. But asking questions and listening and sharing in small groups broke down barriers between us and them. The musicians in our group asked if they could learn a fishing song, and in turn sang a fishing song from Canada. We then gathered and danced to their music and laughed at each other.
As the sun was setting we left, said goodbye, and continued talking about how amazing that experience was.