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SELVARAJ THEVAR, 46
SELVARAJ THEVAR, 46
Occupation: Aircraft maintenance for Jet Airways
Earns: $260 (140) per month - sole earner in family
Home: One room tenement shared with wife and son
Time in slum: 27 years, but hopes to move out
Selvaraj hopes to leave his Dharavi home

I am in a hurry to leave Dharavi. I've lived here since 1979 and I am tired of the hurdles I face every time I go for a job or a bank loan due to my slum address.

Fortunately I have a good job now, but earlier I would go for an interview and everything would be fine until they asked for my address. As soon as I said Dharavi, they would say they'd call me and never contact me again.

I would have left a long time ago, but Mumbai is an expensive city and affordable housing is most difficult to find here. If I like a room nearby, the security deposit and rent is too high.

If I go to a place that fits my budget then the distance I must travel for work almost doubles.

Other than the fact that Dharavi is a slum, I have no complaints about living here. It is centrally located in Mumbai and travelling from here to any place in the city is very easy.

I work shifts six days a week and have two days off. Sometimes I leave for work at the crack of dawn and sometimes return home after midnight.

I have a small family - a wife and a 14-year-old son. My wife does not work, she looks after the house. My son studies.

I manage to earn enough for all three of us to live comfortably. I am a bit strict about our expenditure and I ensure that we make do with what we have rather than borrow from others, so we manage to save quite a bit.

It is useful when unforeseen important expenses come up like my son's tuition fees or some medical emergency. We don't travel or go out too much and eat all our meals at home.

I prefer to save my money for a better future for my son. I want him to study more than me.

As part of the Dharavi slum rehabilitation programme I have been given a room in a newly-constructed building. It is nice, but I still want to move out of this area.

Selvaraj and son at home
Dharavi traffic

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