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Chapter 17
Nandita in Mumbai

I came to Mumbai a month ago. Since we came, mother has been admitted in the hospital. We had to come to Mumbai for her treatment.

The Big City - Mumbai!

Woman and a little girl standing at a railway station and a man is waving at them.

I have slowly got used to the city. I still remember the day when mother and I got off the train at the Mumbai station. It was so crowded! I quickly caught hold of mother’s hand. I was thinking about how Mama would find us in the crowd. Just then, I heard someone calling loudly from behind, “Nandita, Nandita.” I turned back, and there was Mama.

We left the station and were soon on our way to Mama’s house. But, again, it was so crowded everywhere.

For the teacher: Mother’s brother is called Mama in Hindi. Ask children what do they call mother’s brother in their family?

There were many huts lined all along the narrow street. We went through the street to reach Mama’s house. Mama, Mami, their two daughters and a son - all live in one room. Now, I too live here with them. It is here that we sit, sleep, cook and wash -all in one room.

A combined picture of a dirty street and a room where all members of the family are doing their respective activities.3

My house in the village also has only one room, but we have separate places for cooking and for bathing. We also have a courtyard outside.

Water, Water

Mami, Seema and I get up at 4 o’clock every morning and go to the public-tap to fill water. Oh no! You won’t believe how many fights there are for water. If we are just a little late, then we are not able to fill water for the day. There is no tap in our house in the village too. The pond in the village has water. It takes twenty minutes to walk to it. In summer, sometimes, the water in the pond dries up.

For the teacher: Mother’s brother’s wife is called mami in Hindi. Ask children what do they call her in their family?

Then we have to walk for almost one hour to the river to get water. But in the village, there were no fights for water.

Few women fighting over water near a tap where buckets are lined up.

In the street where Mama lives, there is a toilet at one end. Everyone in the street uses that toilet. It is always very dirty and smells so bad. At first, it used to make me want to vomit. At times, there is no water. We have to take water with us. Now I am getting used to all this. In the village, people go to the open places or fields for toilet. The men and women go to different places.


  • Why did Nandita have to bring her mother from the village to Mumbai?

  • Nandita used to feel like vomiting when at first she had to use the toilet where Mama lived. Why?

  • In what ways did Nandita find her Mama’s house to be different from her house in the village?

  • What differences did Nandita find between getting water from the public tap and in the village?

  • Was there electricity at the place where Nandita’s Mama lived? Guess.

Learning New Things

Woman cleaning a house with a broom.

Everyday I go to the hospital by bus to see my mother. At first, I was too scared to get into such crowded buses. I was not at all used to it. I was afraid. But now, it is not like that. I know how to stand in line, how much to pay for the ticket, where to get down.

Where we stay, there is a tall building nearby. My Mami works in seven houses there. She washes utensils and cleans the houses. One day I went there with her. When

I first saw the building, I thought that it was one big house. But I found that there were many houses, one on top of another. I was wondering how I would climb so many stairs, but there was a lift to take people up and down. It was like a big iron cage with fan and light and even a bell. So many of us got into the lift. Somebody pressed the button and lift went up quickly. To tell you the truth, I was very scared in the beginning.

Let us talk

  • Do you know anyone who was admitted to a hospital?

    • For how many days was he or she in the hospital?

    • Did you visit the person in the hospital?

    • Who was looking after the patient at the hospital?

  • Have you ever seen a tall building? Where?

  • How many floors did the building have?

  • How many floors did you climb?

Another House

A small girl peeping into the kitchen of a house.

Mami took me first to Babloo’s house. His house was on the twelfth floor. What a big house! So many rooms – one to sit in, one to eat in, one to sleep in, and one to cook in. Their toilet was also in the house! It took Mami a lot of time to clean Babloo’s house, but she could work easily. There was a tap in the kitchen and water flowed from it. Babloo put a bucket under the tap to fill water for his bath. Then he sat down to watch TV. So much water was wasted – I did not like it. I went and closed the tap.

Babloo’s house had big glass windows. Mami told me to look down from the window. I could see Mama’s street and the houses, but I could not make out which was his house. From up there, everything below looked like small toys. I was quite afraid to look down from such a height.

A combined picture of a tall building and few children standing in a street of a village.

  • When Nandita first came to Mumbai, what were the things that she was afraid to do?

For the teacher: The lesson describes some differences between where Nandita’s Mama lives and the houses in the high-rise buildings. Encourage children to think more about such differences and the possible reasons for these.

  • What were the differences between the houses where Mama lived and the houses in the high-rise buildings?

Houses in area where Mama lived Houses in a high-rise building

  • Discuss why there were differences.

Tell about yourself

  • Draw a circle around the kind of house you live in. Is it like the house of –

    Nandita, Mama, Babloo, Any other kind

  • Where does the water come from in your house?

  • Is there an electricity connection in your house? How many hours in a day do you get electricity?

  • Which is the nearest hospital in the area where you live?

  • How far are these from your house?

Minutes to

walk to

In Kilometres
Bus stop
Post Office
  • Draw pictures in your notebook of the different kind of houses in your area.

A New Worry

Mama had said that he would take me around to see Mumbai. Th e children around here talk a lot about Chowpatti. They say that big film stars also come there. May be when I go there, I might see a film star!

Little girl dreaming of a beach.

These days, Mama is so worried – I cannot ask him to take me to Chowpatti. Last week some people had come with a notice that everyone should move out of this place. They say a big hotel will be built there. Mama was saying that this is the third time in the last ten years that he got such notices. People who live here have been given another place to make their houses. But it is very far away - another corner of the city. There is no drinking water, no electricity. I don’t even know if any bus goes there. How will Mama reach his work place from so far? How much money will he have to spend, and how much time also. And Mami, will she get some other work there! If Mama moves to a new place, how will I be able to visit my mother? Mother is not even completely well as yet!

For the teacher: Like Nandita's Mama, people sometimes have to vacate their houses and move to another place. Discuss in the class some reasons for this. Also discuss how such changes can affect the whole family.

Write in your notebook

  • Why does Mama have to change his house?

  • Have you ever moved from your house? If yes, why did you have to move?

  • Do people in your family have to go far for their work? Where do they go? How far do they have to go?


  • Is it right that Mama and others have to move because a hotel is going to be built there?

  • Who will benefit from this?

  • Who will face difficulties?

  • Do you know of any people who have faced problems similar to Nandita’s Mama? Talk about it in class.

Draw a picture of house of your choice and colour it.