Archive for August, 2010

Bandra Diaries: No Room for Single Women

Posted on August 9, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — Niharika Hanglem lists apartments like relationships.

They all had character, but none were the right fit. There was the Santa Cruz apartment in North Mumbai where the owner slept on the sofa. There was the Andheri one-bedroom she crammed herself into with three other women, the Kandivali flat where she turned the bedroom into a closet and another Andheri apartment where she crashed with her boyfriend whom she had to claim was her husband.

Niharika now lives in Bandra, another suburb in North Mumbai popular among young people, pretending to be her landlord’s relative in order to skirt the housing society that would otherwise kick her out.

In skinny jeans and a plaid blouse, with a gold pendant shaped like the Hindu god Ganesh hanging from her neck, Niharika looks like she’d make an innocuous tenant. But Niharika is single, and single women have a hard time making headway with India’s housing societies, which get to decide who can and cannot own and rent apartments.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter @Hanna_India.

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How Boat Clinics Are Transforming Rural India

Posted on August 4, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International.

A fisherman stands knee-deep in the river as a boat pulls up to the bank in the northeastern Indian village of Tengatoli. A crew made up of doctors, nurses, and one pharmacist grab bags of medical supplies and lug a large generator toward the bamboo homes in the distance.

Outside a thatched house, a bare-chested man squats on the ground next to a basket of fresh chiles. He holds down a piece of bamboo with one hand and whacks it with a sickle with the other. Outside a thatched home, young men sort peanuts spread out before them. Inside, a family of baby chickens chases each other under a makeshift wooden bed.

The boat crew sets up the generator and a projector and screen inside a bamboo structure that serves as the village’s schoolhouse. Women in brightly colored saris with babies in arm file into the schoolhouse-turned-cinema to watch a film about family planning, child immunizations, and the importance of antenatal checkups. Much of the film is in Assamese, and these women speak Bengali. But they watch intently. For most of them, it is the first time they have ever seen a video.

About three million people live in socially and geographically isolated villages like this one along the Brahmaputra, a massive river that stretches from Tibet to Bangladesh. Most of the villages do not have electricity, roads, secondary schools, clinics, or proper toilets. Five years ago, an organization called the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES)—realizing the government was not in the position to build clinics on these islands and the people could not access services on the mainland—decided to take healthcare to the islands.

Continue reading at GOOD.

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Apartment Hunting in India’s Posh Suburbs

Posted on August 2, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International.

Editor’s note: The Bandra Diaries is an occasional series that details life in today’s India.

MUMBAI, India — In Mumbai, India’s financial capital, much of the middle class employs cooks and cleaners, drivers and even iron-wallahs. There’s no need to iron your own shirt when another will do it for you for just a few rupees.

Labor comes cheap in India, a country with 1.2 billion people, about 40 percent of whom live on less than $1.25 day.

But try to rent an apartment in Mumbai, and it’s another matter entirely. With not enough land and a constant influx of people, Mumbai’s lack of affordable housing forces more than half the city to live in slums.

Even those with money find it difficult to land a decent apartment without breaking the bank. This is especially true in Bandra, a suburb in North Mumbai that has become increasingly popular with young professionals and expatriates for its central location, open-minded reputation and shopping and entertainment options.

I set out to find what you could rent for about 35,000 rupees ($760) a month in Bandra West, the part of the suburb that sits next to the Arabian Sea. The short answer: Not much.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter @Hanna_India.

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