Every afternoon the ladies gather on the bench, and chat for hours. We asked Asma to chose a word, and she came up with “Eksat” (the Hindi word for “Together”). She thought it would suit the place.
For me, the ladies’ bench is a source of inspiration since women here always wear beautiful dresses and sarees with vibrant colours. They told me I had to dress well if I wanted to have my picture taken on the bench with them. Ladies’ bench rules!
“Itcha” means “wish” in Hindi. The word was chosen by one of our good friends in the slum, Arbaz, a 17-year old college student. He was big dreams of traveling the world one day!
We painted Arshad’s house without telling him. He’s a very friendly guy, and we wanted to paint a little surprise for him. We asked his neighbours and family to choose a word and they went for “Muskan” (which means “Smile” ). He works at a hotel in central Mumbai and he was delighted to see our work when he came home! All smiles in Phule Nagar!
This is Lakhan, one of our good friends from Phule Nagar. He’s deaf and can’t speak at all, not even sign language. He’s never been to school and therefore he can’t read or write either. In fact, apart from a few hand gestures he can’t communicate with anyone. He spends his days selling packets of water around the local train station. His mother boils water to make it drinkable and puts it in plastic packets which she then pops into the fridge. For the past few weeks we’ve been living off this water!
Each morning, Lakhan comes into our house and wakes us up by pulling our feet, a way of saying it’s time to go to work. Every evening, when the sun sets, he comes over to us and gestures that the day is over and we should pack our gear. Then he comes over to our house after dinner and we have a little drawing session. His drawings are those of a brain almost untouched by culture. Unique and spontaneous!