Julian Crandall Hollick, a British-born radio journalist, has written a book on the lives of a group of Byculla pavement dwellers, whom he has known for 25 years.
Chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad will launch the book, titled Apna Street and published by Ameya Prakashan, on Tuesday at Jhulla Maidan in Byculla.
Hollick has previously made a number of radio programmes on the lives of these pavement dwellers. He first arrived in Mumbai in October 1986. “Back then, I never thought I would end up writing a book on the city’s pavement dwellers,” said Hollick, whose programmes on the struggles of the pavement dwellers were successful between 1995 and 2002 on the National Public Radio in the United States. He has also written a book on the river Ganga.
The stories mainly revolved around Mahila Milan, a small organisation started by the women who lived on the pavements of Meghraj Sethi Marg in Byculla. “I was astonished to see the way they erected their tenements every time they were demolished, though they also had the will to get out of the slums and move into a house of their own,” said Hollick, who has also stayed with the pavement dwellers and the street kids.
Hollick refuted assumptions that the book is another attempt to exhibit the city’s poverty after Slumdog Millionaire? He said, “Nowhere have I used the word ‘poverty’. It is a salute to the struggles of the members of Mahila Milan. Here is a group which has shown that the poor, if united, do not need to depend on the government.”