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'Slum Homestay': Now Foreigners Can Pay ₹2000 a Night to Enjoy 'Basti' Life
January 29, 2018
'Slum Homestay': Now Foreigners Can Pay ₹2000 a Night to Enjoy 'Basti' Life


29 January 2018

It was in 2015 that Ravi Sansi came across a tourist from Singapore who was being harassed by street urchins. He came to her rescue and when she asked him to take her to a scenic spot, he first took her to Girgaon Chowpatty and then asked her to stay at his jhopadpatti in Khar East.

Sansi’s mother took an instant liking to the 28-year-old and even asked her to stay with the 16 other members of the family in their one-room tenement.

"She slept in the same bed as my bhabhi, learned to cook and would wash her clothes sitting with my mother in the doorway," says Sansi. "She cried when she left because she was so happy to have met me."

Since this seems to have worked out, Sansi now plans to start Mumbai’s first “slum homestay” with his family hosting tourists who wish to “step out of their comfort zone”, reports TOI.

“The idea was suggested by 32-year-old David Bijl, who is from the Netherlands and works for the same non-profit that hired Sansi after Google Maps made his job of selling paper maps redundant. Sansi and his family warmed to the idea because they were in need of funds—spending a night at Sansi's home will cost a couple Rs 2,000 and the entire amount will go to the host family,” reports Nergish Sunavala for TOI.

And how will tourists know what they are getting into?

Bijl has started a facebook page and has uploaded photographs of the dirty Indian toilets and cramped slum accommodation. But the online albums also include pictures of happy children and Sansi’s family waving at the camera.

"There is beauty here as well and people are often happy," says Bijl.

However, the facebook page has faced some major flak since its conception since Indians believe that this will create a negative impression about the country.

“There are a whole lot of westerners who still believe India is a country of snake charmers... Now, if you give them a slum stay, they will go back home thinking the whole of India is a slum," posted one individual.

Foreigners have also been precarious of the page because they believe it is an extension of insensitive slum tours.

But Bijl states that the two are different as here, the tourists get to interact with the residents of the slum.

"Here, you are actually staying with Ravi's family, you are learning about their lives," he says. "You're not just passing by and taking a selfie for your Facebook page."