I happen to live in the far flung suburbs of Mumbai in a spacious well ventilated chawl. Sparrows are our regular visitors, which is quite a rare sight in Mumbai. When I was younger there used to be a huge tamarind tree adjacent to our house, making it breezy and cooler in the summers. A lot many people who live in the apartments and penthouses have a common perception, that chawls are akin to slums, which is quite untrue. Chawls may lack the basic facilities, but not all chawls are cramped and some have a scope for vertical expansion like ours. I would like to list out a few pros and cons of living in one:-Pros :- 1)
There are few instances of robbery or any sort of other crimes taking place, as people are more vigilant and keep a watch on happenings on their neighbourhood.
2)Your neighbours would be there for you through thick and thin, some even consider you as your family member and reach out to you in need.
3)A lot of people hailing from different parts of Mumbai intermingle and learn to speak their language and have a thorough understanding of their culture.
4) When passing through the streets, people give you a call and say hello, and ask hello "How's life going". People here are more caring to others feelings.Cons:-
1) The roof made of asbestoes sheets dissipates a lot of heat, making you sweat through the sweltering summer heat.
2)As our chawl is attached to a store, which is not functional as of today, a lot many people barge in unannounced. There's no privacy in a chawl for sure.
3)Random aunties would make a surprise visit and crib about their problems, as if we don't face any trials and tribulations in our lives. Acting as a counselor to their problems for sure.
4) Babysitting comes naturally to people living in chawls. Yeah they are free of cost. Jokes apart, people let their toddlers unattended, until someone from the neighbourhood spots them loitering around and attends to them.
5)People are more interested in what's happening in other people's life, who's eloped with whom, who has lowest moral standards, they won't shy away from labelling them, the news spreads like wildfire.
6)Loudspeaker's blaring, the radio at the barber's shop being played at full volume making concentrating on studies impossible. When someone complains, pat comes the reply, my children also study, yeah those high school drop outs.
7)Those serpentine queues for taking the early morning dump.
If I ever happen to move to an apartment, then I would miss the neighbourhood, as then there won't be people who interact with each other on a day to day basis.