Virtual Bharat

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Chattai Weaving Life On The Streets

Life isn’t perfect, it doesn’t hand out rewards without an effort. Jyotiben and her husband Sudhirbhai, have thrived on a footpath near Golibar, Santacruz, in Mumbai. For well over a decade, the couple has crafted chatais and home decor items using bamboo sticks. Even when the city zips past them in fast-paced cars, their life chugs at a pace that’s slow, and in today’s times, enviable. Afterall, kahan milte hain fursat ke raat aur din…

Jyotiben and Sudhirbhai were married on the very footpath where they run their modest
business today. They work for 336 days a year, investing 4368 hours annually. They earn Rs 41.11 per hour.

All along, the city rushes past their shop while they work like a yarn’s thread and a needle, sewing in perfect synchronicity. Their pace of work is slow but it speaks volumes about the perfection the couple seeks in crafting every chatai and home decor item they create throughout the day and the year. For Jyotiben, making chatais is more than work; it’s a dance of coordination, like marriage itself. “Our work needs perfect hand-eye coordination. For our work, we need to be perfectly coordinated – just like people should be in a marriage,” chuckles Jyotiben.

Undeterred by the challenges that life has thrown at her, Jyotiben has made forward strides, never stopping to look back at life’s lemons. “Hamare liye, Bambai hi sab kuch hai…” she speaks matter-of-factly. Forming a strong part of the city’s vibrant and energetic workforce, she symbolises thousands of migrants in the city who turn to, and eventually, thrive on the most unusual professions without making their everyday-labour seem like an effort.

In the bargain, people like her feed hope into the hearts and minds of millions, aiming to make a living in a competitive and bustling metro like Mumbai. Individuals like Jyotiben also define the city’s diversity and underscore it’s never-give-up attitude. “Bamboo ke saath kaam karna aasaan nahi hai,” Jyotiben says, adding, “Yeh kaam, hamari kala humse koi nahi chheeen saktaaa.”

For those who can find a way, a city like Mumbai ensures they don’t sleep on an empty stomach. Jyotiben’s story is underlined with determination — a quality shared by millions who come to Mumbai with dreams in their eyes. It would take a relentless person like Jyotiben to turn those dreams into a reality – that she weaves with her bare hands every day.


Created by:
Anagha Acharekar
Rohit More
Sayan Debnath, Christy Sebastian
Yash Khaire
Sound Design:
Praveen Raj
Sound Mixing:
P A Deepak
Post-Production Assistants:
Pratik Basankar, Darshit Dalvi
Camera Crew:
Prakash Bamne
Executive Producer:
Lynette Dmello
For Studio Virtual Bharat
Jawahar Sharma
Rachana Dubey
Sainath Uskaikar
Krishika Gandhi
Kiran Santra
Shamika Vedak
Trupti Amrite
Kannan Iyer
Raynor Tellis
Produced By: Studio Virtual Bharat

Behind The Scenes