On the outskirts of Mumbai in India lie the Deonar garbage mountains. Like in so many places around the world, wastepickers turn others’ trash into their treasure. Hidden and invisible, they build their livelihoods by collecting glass, sorting cloth scraps and hunting for hospital waste. They are lives marred by precarity and danger, but also love and laughter.
Castaway Mountain (in the US)/ Mountain Tales (in the UK) is a new book about the wastepicker community in and around the Deonar trash mountains. It is a gripping tale of living life in the margins of society, shedding light on the everyday struggles and joys of those who are invisible to most. In this episode, we are joined by its author Saumya Roy.
Based in Mumbai, Saumya has written for many national and international magazines and co-founded Vandana Foundation – a micro-finance organisation to help people in poverty set up their own businesses. Together we talk about what draws people to the trash mountains, the fragility of life in poverty and what the future of the wastepicker community might look like.
Photo credit: Saumya Roy