‘Slumming It’ is a documentary by Kevin McCloud whereby McCloud visits the slum of Dharavi in Mumbai, India. Here he finds a world that is so different to that which Westerners (like myself) experience. The children play among filth near toxic drains, Pollution is everywhere. Poverty is everywhere. Surely this must be soul crushing for the inhabitants. And yet there is a richness of spirit that is fascinating to watch. The people recycle everything in a manner that is quite incredible. And the people endure and even thrive. Let me just say I loved the colours they wear and their pride in themselves.
My fictional suburb of Blue Anchor in my dominion of Shade is based on this. I describe toxic canals (the canals owe something to Venice, one of my favourite places in the world). Filth and faeces litter the streets. Hopefully the people in Blue Anchor have the same spirit despite adversity.
Admittedly one of my other inspirations for part of this fictional suburb is a section called Nine Nuns that recalls London’s St Giles rookery. I do this in honour of an ancestral family that escaped the place two centuries ago. But I can write of that later.
I base my fictional suburb on this place because I feel that fiction should contain truth. Yet interestingly enough I am not sure what truth it is that I am seeking to paint.
Certainly all of Shade is a recycling society like Dharavi. The people in Shade do not think of it that way. They think of themselves mining forgotten civilisations. They find wealth among the trash in the landscapes above their chasm city. Their artificers create marvels that they sell across the dominions. They are creators of magic!
Thank you Kevin McCloud for the inspiration your documentary brought me. Thank you people of Dharavi.
To all my readers, I truly encourage you to watch this. YouTube even seem to have it.