Friday, 27 February 2009

Slumdog millionaires

I took this photo very quickly, hence the bad quality. You don't really want to hang around too long in an area like this one...

When you see a sight like this, you are probably thinking:

1. Oh my God, it's a hovel! Poor people live here.
2. There is no place for them to dry their clothes except at street level.
3. They can't get the paint off their jeans - they wear filthy clothes.

economic migrants hania chania

Now try understanding the photo without being prejudiced.

The above three points may be read more positively:
1. This old house costs very little money to rent (ie the occupants are saving a lot of money).
2. There may be no place to dry one's clothes except at street level, but at least these people can do their washing and have it dry somehow (ie they can keep themselves clean).
3. Their jeans are covered in paint, so that means they are painters (ie they are employed and making good money).

Last but not least, their use of bicycles must be applauded. It's cheaper and greener than a car.

And that's the state of economic migration in Hania - poverty on the outside, financial security within. Albanian immigrants in Greece save much more money per capita than Greeks do, ie they're working and saving, whereas the locals are working and spending.

'Nuff said.


  1. this seems to be a very decent neighbourhood compared to mumbai's slums! you must see the movie to get an idea of what a 'slum' in mumbai is!

  2. yes, you are right - this isnt a slum, although i may have made it out to be one; it's actually one of the oldest areas of town where people have moved out or moved on, and they have let their old houses out. some of the houses are renovated, others arent. some of the ones that arent, are in a shambolic state, ready to fall down. the people who live in them are mainly very hard working, saving money and sending it to their relatives abroad.

  3. Everyone has to live somewhere. It's really about how they live that determines what sort of people they are. Do you think MKiwi?

  4. Hmm, i kind of get what you want to convey. I remember people living in very questionable places and conditions in Aigaleo in 98-99.

    Plus, it is like that with migrants all over the world...If you do not "blend" very well with the current trends of the society or if you are used to other kinds of customs you tend to shy away from participating and eventually spending for sometime...

    And then, financial security? OK they may save more but the way things are going it is not only about being able to make it through the month it is also about how much are your savings worth anyway...(?)

  5. The first few years of my life were very poor. But we were always clean. Nothing wrong with being poor and clean and working hard!

  6. And the various governments around the world are asking us to SPEND more to overcome the financial crisis. Something is not right here.

  7. I agree with RuneE. We can't spend more than what we spend now. All other spending would be for things we either do not need or want. That's the kind of spending that created this nightmare we are in.

    The Japanese used to be the biggest personal savings country in the world.

  8. It actually looks like a pretty decent neighborhood to me. We have much worse here in my town. Laundry hanging out on ground floor level is not pretty, but, as you said, better than not washing at all.

  9. A beautifully worded post! We need to see scenes like this and remove the rose coloured glasses from time to time.