Tweet Krishna Pujari was ready to go home. It was nearing midnight at the Mumbai restaurant where he was pulling long shifts to put himself through school. Just as he was preparing to clock out for the night, however, a coworker called him back onto the floor. A group of young British men had come in and, as the only English speaker, it fell to Pujari to take their order.
Share via Email Foreign tourists are introduced to street children at New Delhi railway station. A small boy climbs out from the hole, steps across the corrugated iron roof and balances himself on a ledge on the other side of the bars, staring back at the visitors, perplexed.
The tourists pause for a while taking in his malnourished appearance, his filthy clothes and glazed eyes. Most carry a small square of cloth soaked in the chemical, which they hold to their noses and inhale periodically.
But there are the overhead electricity wires to Slum tours out for. For anyone weary of Mughal tombs and Lutyens architecture, a new tourist attraction is on offer for visitors to the Indian capital: The tour guide instructs visitors not to take pictures although he makes an exception for the newspaper photographer.
He hopes the trip will get a listing in the Lonely Planet guides. Nevertheless there is something a little uncomfortable about the experience - cheerful visitors in bright holiday T-shirts gazing at profound misery.
Next up is the railway medical centre where a queue of half a dozen children is waiting to see a young doctor. Wearily she lists the problems the children face - broken limbs from collision with the trains or from falling off moving carriages as they go about their work gathering discarded plastic water bottles, injuries from the beatings meted out by the station police, malnutrition, tuberculosis.
Eventually the doctor points out that she has to give her attention to the boy slumped weakly in front of her desk. The tour moves swiftly on to a secluded train siding, where around 15 children are sitting on a carpet, each with a small blackboard, helped by a volunteer to write a few letters and numbers.
These are children who live with their families in the tents and shacks around the station. Their parents have brought them to the capital to escape desperate rural poverty.
Protected by their relatives from the harshest violence of street life, these children are better off than the orphans who sleep on the station roof, but life remains a battle against hunger. This school is run by the Salaam Baalak Trust, which is the organisation behind the tourist trips.
Javed explains how each platform is controlled by a gang leader, one of the older street children, who protects and menaces the other boys in his care. Shouting to make himself heard above the rumbling of the trains, our guide explains that children who run away from home - escaping alcoholism, poverty, natural disasters and family violence - usually take the train to Delhi.
Gang leaders spot a new arrival as soon as he steps off the train and offer help with finding food and safe places to sleep. New arrivals are shown how to strap sharp blades to their index fingers for slashing pockets; they learn which fruit-juice sellers will protect them and where to sell the plastic bottles and silver foil picked from the carriage.
Platform one, where the luxury tourist trains stop, is the most heavily policed area, but also the most lucrative fiefdom, and street children are skilled at dodging trains to crawl into the carriages from the other side.
There are no girls in the gangs because they are picked up by pimps as soon as they arrive, Javed explains. By the end of the walk, the group is beginning to feel overwhelmed by the smells of hot tar, urine and train oil. Have they found it interesting, Javed asks?
Javed says he will take the suggestion on board for future tours.
To see how the children work the trains, you must arrive just after dawn, when the night trains arrive one after the other, full of discarded junk.
Small packs of children, aged between seven and 14, drag huge sacks behind them picking up any litter that can be sold. On a stretch of abandoned track, metres away from the platforms they sort through their findings - snatched purses and half-eaten train meals among the rubbish.
Babloo, who thinks he is 10, has been living here for maybe three years. His life is unrelentingly bleak and he recognises this. For details of the tours email sbttour yahoo.
While tourists are not advised to wander into these hillside shanty towns unaccompanied, walking tours of some of the safer neighbourhoods are available, which will give tourists a fascinating insight into favela life.
Some of the tours include visits to community projects and health centres. A three-hour tour of the Vila Canoas and Rocinha favelas is available from Favela Tour 00 55 21 33 22 27 27; www.Our Kibera-based Dutch-Kenyan organisation “Kibera Tours“ would like to welcome you to a tour in Kibera, the biggest slum of East-Africa.
Our guides Martin and Freddy, born and living in Kibera, would like to show you the daily life in their ‘city of hope’. Mumbai tours and things to do: Check out Viator's reviews and photos of Mumbai tours. So in , the two friends founded Reality Tours and Travel, offering India’s first slum tours.
Now, they take around 18, people per year into Dharavi, pumping 80% of the proceeds back into. A new travel experience gives visitors a glimpse into the harsh lives of Delhi's street children.
But is it a worthy initiative or just an example of voyeuristic 'poorism', asks Amelia Gentleman. The UK has slipped from 31st to 35th place in the global broadband league tables, behind 25 other European countries, research suggests.
Analysis of million broadband speed tests across regardbouddhiste.com is an award-winning company, providing personalised and highly researched walks by arrangement for over two decades. We offer the largest choice of specialty walks in Melbourne for individuals, groups or schools.