I was preparing for my trip to India and had to transfer some money to a HDFC bank account in India. I did some research and found HDFC Quickremit which promised low fees and reasonable exchange rates. Moreover, they have an arrangement with my bank (DBS) in Singapore which I can make a quick funds transfer and avoid the use of credit cards. Everything sounds good.
But my experience has not been great. Here’s my 1 month saga.
Day 11 & 12 – Mumbai to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore
I took a half day educational tour with Reality Travels to the Red Light District, Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat and Dharavi Slums. Above photo shows the 140-year-old dhobi ghat which literally mean “washing place”. There is also a recently released movie titled Dhobi Ghat starring Aamir Khan. It’s currently showing in Singapore with English Subtitles. Despite the huge number of movies churned out from Bollywood every year, I could only count 3 Indian movies which I have watched – Water, Slumdog Millionaire and 3 Idiots.
(Update Feb 2011: My colleague, Raj, decided that I need more doses of Bollywood and so I ended up watching the highly recommended Chak De India!, My Name is Khan, Rocket Singh and Like Stars on Earth.)
Reality Travel has a strict no-camera policy for tourists visiting the slums but they would provide some photos upon request. So the photos you see below are provided by Reality Travel. Before visiting the slums, I had expected that I would see skinny children, makeshift huts and in general, very bad living conditions. It must be the movies and the books. After the tour, my impression is that Dharavi Slums is basically a very oversized village (or town) with various cottage industries. Here are some interesting statistics about Dharavi slums:
– Annual turnover of business is estimated to be above USD650 million
– Population density is around 315,000 per square kilometer
– 60% of mumbai police lives there
Read more about Dharavi here.