Chapter 1: Introduction Next Chapter

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As I looked down from Nehru Bridge that runs across the now almost-dry Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, the city opened up to me. A sea of plastic, wood, mud, and bamboo shelters meticulously stitched together with flimsy ropes, patched with mud and sometimes bricks and concrete, rose from the parched mudflats of the riverbank and disappeared into the dusk of the horizon. They were teeming with life, activity, and hope—children chasing goats, women washing utensils, a baby defecating near the water, a washerman running an informal laundry and hanging clothes on a line along the river, groups of men playing cards, curls of smoke rising from huts. Closer to the bridge, the shelters, homes, and huts abruptly end and disappear as concrete steps, the ...

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