This sanitation worker says he says certain beauty in Mumbai’s indifference

Satish says that he sees beauty in the city’s indifference. the city doesn’t go easy on those who were born here, it treats everyone the same

Updated: Aug 31, 2018 15:40:13

By Sagar Pillai

Satish Chavan spends over 12 hours a day climbing in and out of manholes for minimum wage. He dreams that someday he will run his own grocery store. (HT Photo)

Surrounded by the worst of the city’s filth, Satish Chavan, 29, spends his days down in the sewers, among the hundreds of sanitation workers who keep Mumbai’s drains flowing.

He was born and raised in Parel and began in this line of work seven years ago, after he failed Class 12. The first few months were so bad, he says he considered leaving the city.

“I got dengue and then malaria. I thought I might as well give up and start looking for jobs somewhere else. But I decided to stay because I believe Mumbai can fulfill my dreams.”

That dream is to work for himself. “I want to run a small grocery store,” he says.

For now, he and his colleagues risk their lives on a daily basis, climbing into manholes full of noxious gases with minimal safety gear, for minimal wages, with medical care that is sporadic at best. The hours are long, often more than 12 a day, with no overtime pay.

Still, Chavan says philosophically, he sees a certain beauty in the city’s indifference.

“I thought Mumbai would go easy on me, because I grew up here. But this city treats everyone the same. The lessons I have learnt in this line of work, I don’t think any other job could have taught me. Positivity. That everything happens for the best. And that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.”

(This story is part of a series Moving Images that celebrates the city of Mumbai through its people.)

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 15:38:38


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