17th September 2010, Mumbai, India. Mr B.S Jaiswar, Postmaster of Dharavi Post Office. He has been in post for two and a half years of a 4 year tenure. This is his first 'command' of a delivery office though he worked in a lesser post in one in Mumbai Central East district.
By comparison this area has many more challenges. He says 'If you think of the Dharavi postmen in terms of the armed forces then they are the Special Forces, the elite commando's who tackle the most difficult work in the most challenging conditions. Even the police come to them if they need to trace an address in Dharavi. They have to work harder than any other postmen'
The Dharavi Post office is the sole delivery office for
Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums housing somewhere between 600, 000 and a million or more people in a packed area of .67 square miles. The 20 postmen attached to the office go out in two shifts: 10 postmen in the morning and 10 in the afternoon, on individual beats that they know intimately. Such is the complexity of Dharavi's maze-like lanes that it takes a postman 6 months to learn the basics of his beat and up to 2 years to fully master it. The challenges are unique in Dharavi where many dwellings have no numbers and addresses are often simply the addressee's name followed by just 'Dharavi'. The postmen walk around 8 kilometres (nearly 5 miles) on a shift and much of that is difficult, hazardous walking over water pipes, broken paving, open sewers and up and down narrow unsafe stairs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AND COPYRIGHT OF SIMON DE TREY-WHITE
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