Beside Artist Village - a calm space where we reside - has sprouted a slum, as if out of nowhere. Artist Village is scenically set in a forest which also has a pond, where we go for a walk in the morning, sometimes in the evening. It's whispered about the people living in the slum, they have political support. We have been trying to get it removed without any success, because political support is a dangerous thing to fight against. It consists of huts whose flimsy existence depends on twigs dug into the ground. The inhabitants are impverished, living from hand to mouth. As so happens it has its rowdy elements too.
Now what happened is like this. We and our German friend Hans John Jurgen were going towards the dam in the evening yesterday when we were encountered by a gang of drunk boys from the slums. They shouted obscenities at us and one came towards us as if to strike. We sensed a very serious situation that could mean a lot of harm done to both us and our visiting friend and walked away. There was this particular man with a deformed hand who walked behind us insulting us. We don't know if it was because Hans was a foreigner, or, they have some hidden resentment towards me. Can't they respect a foreigner and accord him some courtesy? We had the phone number of the Belapur police station ready, if the situation went out of hand. But it didn't come to that.
We are the legal residents of Artist Village and imagine us being threatened by the illeagal occupiers of land near us. We felt threatened. Our chagrin at this incident knows no bounds and we are still smarting all over from the incident. But then is this a socio-economic phenomena, which we have to face with increasing migration to cities? It is said that in the near future 75 per cent of India will live in cities. We think this is a prognosis of something really bad which will happen to our cities of the future. So beware and watch out.