Gundecha Symphony

Gundecha Symphony is a series of partially-completed luxury apartment buildings at the end of Veera Desai road in Andheri west. Bombay’s skyline is interrupted with countless new buildings like these: everyone is building up, to fit more people into the already overcrowded city. Gundecha Symphony’s final buildings are in progress: homes for rich fair people made by poor dark people. The unfurnished, concrete skeleton of the building has become a temporary home for those who are building it.

A construction worker is not a single unit: he also comes with a wife, and kids, all of whom need a place to be. So all of their lives are stored in the unfinished buildings until they’re finished, and then all of their lives are shifted to a new place, again and again.

Women, who since girlhood have been shifting from one construction compound to another, tend to everyone’s needs. Some knead atta for chapatis, some scrub a flat piece of rock before scrubbing clothes on it. Others carry water in clay matkas on their heads, weaving their way gracefully around the different obstacles on the ground. Wind pulls through their synthetic saris. Through the water droplets falling from the building structure, I watch them shining in the sun. Feeling that it is such a sin and such a relief that something as beautiful and good as a woman can be found here, a place which otherwise at times looks so bleak and godforsaken… even despite all of the purposeful activity conducted within its grounds.

Children, who need to be children in whatever unfortunate circumstance life thrusts them into, play cricket amidst rebar and rubble. They laugh and yell and shove each other around, Hindus and Muslims and everyone else together. What can they do about being born into such a place? Make do, by playing, laughing, crying and being. And they do.

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