In this sixty-sixth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we get an insight into the poverty at the Dargah Rd in Mumbai also known as the 'Sick Street'. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Clustered on the ground in Mumbai this photo of a beggar girl cannot help one think about the difference between the poor and the rich in India. Beggary is an age old social issue in India. In the medieval and earlier times begging was considered to be an acceptable occupation, which was embraced within the traditional social structure. This system of begging and alms-giving to mendicants and the poor is still widely practiced in India with over 400,000 beggars last year.
Clustered on the ground in Mumbai this photo of a beggar girl cannot help one think about the difference between the poor and the rich in India. Beggary is an age old social issue in India. In the medieval and earlier times begging was considered to be an acceptable occupation, which was embraced within the traditional social structure. This system of begging and alms-giving to mendicants and the poor is still widely practiced in India with over 400,000 beggars last year.

Dargah Rd portraiture

The portrait was taken near the Haji Ali Dargah, which is a mosque and Dargah, which means tomb located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the southern part of Mumbai. Near the heart of the city proper, the Dargah is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Mumbai. According to legends Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari saw a poor woman crying on the road, holding an empty vessel. He asked her what the problem was, she sobbed that her husband would thrash her as she stumbled and accidentally spilled the oil she was carrying. He asked her to take him to the spot where she spilt the oil. There, he jabbed a finger into the soil and the oil gushed out. and the overjoyed woman filled up the vessel and went home.

History of Haji Ali
Later, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari had a recurring and disturbing dream that he had injured Earth by his act. Full of remorse and grief from that day he became very serious and was not keeping well. Then with the permission of his mother he traveled to India with his brother and finally reached the shore of Mumbai – near Worli or at some place opposite the present tomb. His brother went back to their native place. Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari sent a letter with him to their mother informing her that he was keeping good health and that he had decided to reside at that place permanently for the spread of Islam and that she should forgive him. Till his death he kept spreading knowledge about Islam to the people and his devotees would regularly visit him. Before his death he advised his followers that they should not bury him at any proper place or graveyard and should drop his shroud Kafan in the ocean such that it should be buried by the people where it is found. His wish was obeyed by his followers. That is why the Dargah Sharief is built at the very site where his shroud came to rest in the middle of the sea where it perched on a small mound of rocks rising above the sea. The tomb and Dargah Sharief were built in the years to come. On Thursdays and Fridays, the shrine is visited by an enormous number of pilgrims. Irrespective of faith and religion, people visit the dargah to get the blessings of the legendary saint. Sometimes, especially on Fridays, various Sufi musicians perform a form of devotional music called Qawwali at the Dargah.

Chaos and hope with stories in India
Mumbai is a spectacular paradox of chaos and hope, glamor and squalor, modernity and tradition, old and new. Mumbai is a city that proudly boasts of stories from different walks of human survival as seen with the beggar girl in this archive story. Since Mumbai is situated right beside the Arabian Sea, there are various promenades where you just sit back and relax and feel the breeze on your face. Marine Drive is one such promenade where you can sit with your feet dangling over the ledge, and enjoy a beautiful sunset against the backdrop of the roaring waves of the Arabian sea.

Sick street of Mumbai
As a photographer and traveler in India it is hard to ignore the poverty and begging in India. In Mumbai the begging was a real problem for many visitors and they are often ending up giving away a lot of money to scams. The photographer got caught with this scam where a young girl or girls ask you to buy milk for their baby and rice for them to eat and guide you to a store and get you to buy there and then but this is a scam. And they return the goods to the shopkeeper and take a smaller amount of money back. The trick is but what about genuinely poor people with kids. It may be better for someone who is doing something that will make a difference, will change the system, will create permanent change. There are a lot of committed people in this city, who have that sort of gut and determination and the willingness to play the game for the long term, but they have not enough funds. It is a crying shame. Giving to a beggar is the sort of spur-of-the-moment kindness that makes the giver feel better. The receiver gets one meal perhaps, but in the longer term it can mean that this causes more damage than good, since it perpetuates the situation and makes begging a viable profession.

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian girl in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.