Melody and I met our translators at the mall that afternoon greatly anticipating our day out with Annie. We arrived to her home and was warmly greeted by some of the women who lived and worked with her. We sat down in the first room. It was small. About 8 feet by 8 feet (at most) but was a shared space for guests, hanging our, and evidently dinning. Two sisters sat in the floor in front of us eating chipati and other Indian cuisine. We chatted a bit about their lives. They both ended up in the brothel for the same reasons. Both were once married, but their husband’s beat them. Leaving home and all they knew, they lived on the streets and about starved to death. Not wanting it to be the end, they both chose prostitution to survive. Storied just like this are heard all throughout the red light. It’s hard to understand why anywhere on earth would allow a woman to sell her body in order to stay alive. But it’s happening and it’s more common than we know.
Finally Annie arrived, excited to take us out, she hailed a cab right outside her door. Melody and I jumped in quickly realizing out translator was not going with us. We had the entire day to spend with this woman who we barely knew, but had no chance to communicate properly to her. Off we went…
The first stop was at a fork in the road in a very nice part of town. The alley way to our right looked like it came right out of Italy. We got out and walked down the huge stairs to a man-made water hole. I was surrounded with concrete steps as if it were the center of an arena. She stopped and asked a man at the top of the steps who was napping a few questions. Then we headed to the water where she took a sip. And then off we were again, up the stairs, and into the cab.
We stopped at the hanging garden, “not because they hang people here” we were told by a boy selling souvenirs. It was beautiful. The sun was so bright, but bearable because of all the smog. It was a sad sight to see most of the grass withered away from the dry season.
Walkway of the Hanging Garden
We walked for about an hour when I realized we were getting starred at more than usual. I wondered to myself if the people passing by recognized or knew who she was. I felt so responsible for her situation. Such a gentle but strong woman living a way of life no one would ever choose.
Annie and a souvenir we picked up
the sun set over the Mumbai cityscape
We then walked about 3 miles along the boardwalk of the beach. More of a painful stroll, but I made it. We finally made it back to her place, but it was getting late and she had better things to do at this time of day. We met up with Marchina and they walked Melody and I to the City Centre. The day was lovely and I don’t think I regret not taking any photos at her home.