Dharavi Pizza


Old Akhtarunissa shared her story about pizza. She eats a slice every time the young ones in the family buy some pizza. She is not too fond of it; she finds it chewy, the cheese overbearing and while many of us relish the stringy happiness that is baked mozzarella, she finds it a lot like chewing gum. Still, she doesn’t mind a slice or two for this way the children are happy.

The pizza (born in Italy, raised in America) is as common as the vada pav and we have adopted it desi style. Who does not have a pizza memory?

At our latest comics workshop, Surekha and Priyanka drew their memories of pizza, conversations and friends. Surekha, a working mother and a college student, remembers a treat hosted by a friend at a pizzeria. They were four friends and the treat-giver easily spent a thousand bucks that day.

Akhtarunissa, Priyanka and Surekha hail from Dharavi.

People in Dharavi eat pizza. How obvious, you would think.

You see, because we all love pizza, we went to a popular pizza outlet in Sion to place an order for thirteen (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) pizzas for a little party with our comics workshop participants. We went drooling in visions of pizza heaven – melting cheese, tangy sauce, paneer tikkas and spicy chicken. We were refused an order and told, “We do not deliver in Dharavi. Nobody delivers over there.” So we tried the sympathy card (we are from an NGO in Chota Sion Hospital), the practicality card (it is on the main road), the policy card (we are well within your radius of delivery areas) and the blackmail card (we will tell our friends in the media). Still a negative answer. If we wanted those pizzas, we would have to personally pick them up.

So, we called up the Mahim branch of the same pizza guys. They don’t deliver in Dharavi either. They passed the buck back to the Sion outlet. We were in Dharavi, between the devil of a Mahim and the deep sea of Sion. Dharavi was an area of darkness.

In the end, we called up customer care which, after some tedious minutes of putting us on hold, promised to deliver pizzas. No we didn’t have to go pick it up ourselves.

Surely this was a joke. We checked with Kaushik, another of our participants. That’s right, he said. No one delivers pizzas in Dharavi. They say it’s difficult to navigate the roads. So any time he and his friends wish to have pizzas, they go to an outlet.

So yeah. In Dharavi, we eat, love and dream pizzas. How about some delivery services here? Or better still, how about a pizzeria here?