When Whites Dig up Dirt in Dharavi

The author is a poet, novelist and journalist
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British tabloid News of the World does a sting on Rubina’s father, Rafiq. And comes up with stuff on their face

The West has no idea what dust-dry, crap-foul, hooch-drunk poverty is all about. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire is a good touristy look at it before they all retired once again to glitzy ballrooms and kinky bedrooms, while outside pretty spring slowly sprouts clean leaves on well-tended trees. A clean, bright, cool world.

Cut to Dharavi. Dust rises in the air in yellow plumes. The day shimmers over asbestos roofs. The streets are so narrow, a loaded donkey can’t pass through. Men and children and the odd brave woman are defecating on the roadside. Kids are working their asses off at illegal upholstery factories. Women are fighting for their turn at a public tap for the last drops. Mosquitoes thrum. Chaos. Clutter. Cacophony. Life as a series of barely salvaged disasters. And somewhere in these hell fires burn a few lives that had a glimpse of the five-star paradise they will never belong to while shooting for Slumdog Millionaire and, for all too brief a while, at the Oscars later at Los Angeles.
And just as they thought life was getting back to normal, two jokers from News of the World make an appearance as a wealthy couple from Dubai and offer £200,000 to Slumdog child star Rubina Ali’s father, Rafiq, as compensation for adoption. This is an obscene amount to offer to any slum-bound sleaze who doesn’t have the first idea how to make ends meet. In the tabloid’s newsroom, they must be backslapping each other for pulling off this sting operation. If practising deception on a bunch of semi-literate duds who can barely manage three meals a day is sting, News of the World is just wacko brilliant. Hand them a medal every day for the rest of their lives.
The Indian media has, with usual servility, expressed their indignation at Rafiq’s moral corruption. But consider this for a moment. Rafiq’s experience with the whites since the shooting has been positive. Naturally, he trusts them more than the natives. Now, a kindly Sheikh wants to adopt Rubina for a great sum of money. Good for Rubina. Good for Rafiq. Good for the Sheikh. In any case, neither the child (Rubina understandably wants to get the hell out of Dharavi) nor the parents have an issue about the adoption. So, what’s the dirt the reporters are trying to dig up?
Clearly, the sting operation is the cheapest trick in a long while to be practised on a poor people. The whites whose greed started the recession now go about preaching morality to slummers of India who can’t spell their own names. And the moronic Indian media join the procession of righteous chest beaters led by these bleed hearts from News of the World.
It just gets better and better.