Namma Mane | Our Home: Gurappanapalya

Introduction:

The Gurappanapalya settlement is located in southern Banaglore next to a wealthy neighborhood Jayanagar. Situated off the Bannereghata main road, the dusty interior roads of the busy settlement are filled with meat shops, ration stores, clothing stores, and merchants touting good on carts. Home to over 6000 families, the largely Muslim community is centered around the local Mosque. Although the area has changed over the years, most of its inhabitants have been living here for generations.

In contrast, MD Ali, 42, and his wife Mumtaz, 39, have been living with their four sons and two daughters in Gurappanapalya for less than a decade. Ali and his family make and sell samosas to augment the income from their primary business of selling inexpensive costume jewelry. Their two oldest sons, Mudassir and Musavir are working while the younger sons, Ghouse and Shabaz, are still in secondary school. One daughter is married and lives with her husband and child, while the other, Muskan, has completed tenth standard (tenth grade).

Their one-bedroom house is right next door to the home of Riaz Ahmed (age 52) and his wife Naveentaz (age 38). Riaz is a clothing merchant and Naveentaz works as a maid. One of their daughters lives with her husband and child, while the other, Noor Ayesha, 18, has finished twelfth standard (twelfth grade) and lives at home.Both families and their elderly neighbor Hanifa are Muslim. They speak Urdu, Kannada, and some Tamil.

Living in homes that are anomalies in their neighborhood, the two families share much more than a common wall.

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Riaz and Ali live next door to each other in the Gurappanapalya settlement–  a growing low income development, largely comprised of recently constructed, multistoried residences and busy, commercial stores. The pictured high-rise buildings tower over the families’ one-story (8m X 10m), mold homes.Neither families know much about others in their neighborhood; their homes are physically as well as socially separated from the wider community.   2_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Parked in front of the homes is the cycle cart Riaz uses to sell baby clothes. He pushes his merchandise, and goes home to home from 10am to 9pm six days a week. Their houses share a gate, a wall and an eastern style (squatting) toilet outside. The families also wash and dry all their clothes and kitchen utensils in shared space outside. A common characteristic of most low income houses is the practice of using one space for multiple purposes.3_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

On one of the few surfaces in Mumtaz and Ali’s house, an assortment of common Indian household items lie next to a Mosque figurine and a framed photo of Mumtaz and her husband in Delhi. The items include bangles, two cellphones, medicine pills, talcum powder, a Fair and Lovely sachet, a baby’s bottle, and a light bulb.4_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Hanifa, an elderly friend to both the families, explains her frustration when she wastes half a day to collect funds from her savings account, time she could spend doing work. As a cook for numerous bachelors’ houses, her day is so scheduled from early morning to late night, that even an hour wasted is money for her household that is forgone. Hanifa is also upset that to retrieve her savings, she needs to spend additional money on transportation to and from the center, as well as lunch when the process is delayed.5_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Hanifa gives money to her sanga group leader, Mumtaz to put in the bank. The women handle all the financial matters in their respective households and have informal ways of saving money. For example, they use a chit system to pay for their children’s marriages. Mumtaz and her husband have taken three loans: a business loan for making and selling samosas, an education loan for their children, and a group loan with women from the community like Hanifa. In Bangalore’s low income neighborhoods, it is not uncommon for women to handle all money transactions, like savings, loans, and expenses, for the benefit of their entire family.6_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Noor Ayesha, 18, and Muskan, 14, are neighbors and friends. Noor’s older sister’s marriage was a happy celebration for the family, but depleted most of their savings. Noor’s mother, Naveentaz, knows that education is important but laments that Noor’s future is determined by the families’ finances instead of her child’s interests. Muskan’s parents proudly speak of their daughter’s spoken and written English, but also worry about continuing their daughter’s education.7_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Noor Ayesha waits patiently after a job interview. This year, she finished her 2nd PUC (12th grade) and now  hopes to get a job and earn money as a salesgirl. She knows she cannot continue her studies in commerce this year as her sister just got married. Her family has to prioritize and encounter tough decisions regarding financing their children’s futures.  Days later, Noor got the sales job. She busses to the store and works 10 hrs a day.8_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Muskan, 14 has received awards for her excellence in athletics and her first place in math. One of the many dark gold trophies in the house sits next to an embroidery hoop. The girls are learning stitching and embroidery work, skills that can lead to stable tailoring jobs, typical for women with low income backgrounds who have cut their education short of college. Behind these two objects is a framed bridal photo of Ruksaar, Mumtaz and Ali’s oldest daughter. She now spends her time taking care of her baby girl, Manha.9_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Ruksaar is the first and only child, out of her five siblings, to get married and live outside the house. Marrying off their remaining children is a great concern for Mumtaz and Ali. For the first time after her marriage, Ruksaar came back to her parents’ house with Manha, her little girl of ten months, for the Ramzaan festival.10_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Hanifa has been living with her married children ever since her husband passed away. Her busy day always begins or ends with a trip to visit her friends, Naveentaz and Mumtaz. She enjoys a brief moment of rest between her job and housework.11_Gurappanapalya_Stratton

Ali, his wife and children are going to move soon to a more peaceful neighborhood nearby. He plans for their next home to be bigger, with two bedrooms instead of one. The rent will be higher, causing yet another strain on their finances. But Ali understands that since money comes and goes, they will always have to adjust with what they have. When they leave, their neighbors, Riaz, Naveentaz, and Noor, will stay behind.

Introductory Text + Captions| Madhu Ganesh  
Photographs + Captions| Jenny Jacqueline Stratton 
Produced by the P2P Research Team (2014) 

 

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