An abode of anonymous toiling hands

Flanked by multi-storeyed apartments all around, this neo-slum in Iblur has all the hallmarks of a temporary settlement. Huts made out of tarpaulin, tin sheets, abandoned flex boards and other waste materials are packed into an area not more than four acres. This is what Nasreen with her husband, a scrap dealer and children, Yaseen and Jasmeen, call home. Like three dozen other families.

A few hundred meters away loom the apartments where Nasreen works as a domestic help. Toiling from 6 am to 3 pm in six houses, she manages to support her husband and save a few hundred rupees every month for that trip back to Kolkata, once in two years. She has no Aadhaar card or a BPL card. But she insists she is a Bengali.

There are no drinking water taps, no sewage line in sight, not even a streetlight. But this is a slum in the making, away from the official glare of the BBMP and Slum Development Board. In a few months or years, the place could morph into a bigger settlement with its own ecosystem. Yet, this would remain a private slum, undeclared and thus not
eligible for any development.

Such larger concerns escape Raju, a ragpicker resident of this neo-slum. Having come to Bengaluru an year back, he had stumbled upon this place and decided to stay. It was ideal to spend the night after a hectic day’s work that would fetch him Rs 200 to Rs 300. Young children emerge from the huts, roam around totally uncared for. But Nasreen insists her son goes to school, dreaming that one day he would save the family from
despair.

A few huts away, Taanya comes out carrying her toddler nephew. Her brother Mohsin is close by. She proudly introduces herself as a fifth standard student of a bridge school.

The family, says Mohsin, is from Delhi. But he would remain in Bengaluru, because this City has given him a job, as a housekeeping staffer at a hotel nearby.

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