On Wednesday this week, I tagged along on some student research trips around waste in the city. First we went to Connaught Place and talked with primary waste pickers and also some construction workers about their trade and their understanding of poverty (for an assignment in the Politics and Development class).
Then in the afternoon, four of us went out to East Delhi to visit a neighborhood of trash pickers who sort the wastes. It was an amazing visit and I’m really proud of our students for thinking creatively and strategically about how to have those conversations, how to work with an interpreter, and build report to facilitate the harder questions. After that we went for fresh lime soda at the Radisson fancy-pants business hotel just on the main road in front of the settlement. When asked what was behind the hotel, the waiter prevaricated; but even though you could see the slum from the back windows, never acknowledged its existence.
After recharging, we hailed an Auto and headed for the big Delhi dump in Gazipure. Afterdifficulting convincing the auto driver that we really wanted to go there, we walked. Our “shortcut” took us through a neighborhood of metal working shops, recycler’s with houses perched above, and cow dairies(?), and finally arrived at the main trash pile, swarming with birds, smoke rising from a dozen fires, taller than any building in Delhi (it’s called Delhi’s Himalayas). We ended up walking to the top and looking in every direction as thesun sank low. When we descended, we hitched a ride with a garbage truck on its way down (and I almost fell out the door when it popped open going over a bump)
At the bottom we made our way back to the metro and then home to shower, and eat dinner. In short, it was a perfect IHP day.