15th September 2010, Mumbai, India. Chandrakant Dalvi (50) one of the veteran postmen at the Dharavi post office sorts mail as he looks out over a view of the Dharavi slum that he knows intimately. He has been working there for 27 years and has been on beat number 8 for the last 5.
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
+ 91 98103 99809
+ 91 11 435 06980
+44 07966 405896
+44 1963 220 745