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How did MYMUMBAI go?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

MYLONDON founder Paul Ryan flew to Mumbai in September to help homeless charity Pehchan do MYMUMBAI. This is how it went.


We didn't have much of a budget for this project - just enough to develop the film and print the photos - but we decided to go ahead and do it anyway as a pilot project. Fujifilm had generously given us cameras for the project - the same Fujifilm QuickSnap one-time-use film cameras we use in London - and we had a local RPS member Rajen Nandwana who helped us with the judging.


I filled my carry-on bag from London with the 50 cameras, carefully "branded" as MYWORLD and Pehchan, as we were worried we would be slapped with customs charges if they were still in their boxes upon arrival at Mumbai. Fortunately there was no problem.


Pehchan had connected with Cafe Art through our This Is Where I Live (TIWIL) international homeless art exhibition project. Cafe Art was the first international homeless arts organisation, setting up TIWIL in 2013 - connecting London with Mumbai, but also New York, Melbourne, Auckland, Dar es Salaam and Berlin through art created by people who were homeless. It was set up at the same time we ran our annual homeless arts festival in Spitalfields Arts Market. Both projects had a goal of uniting homeless artists.


Pehchan's role is to connect and help families who are living on the streets of Mumbai. Many have been living in the same place for years and they will have multiple generations there, from grandparents to toddlers. The majority of adults (and some children) work full-time.


Planning MYMUMBAI, we had hoped the monsoon season would have ended by early September - but by late September it was still pouring down every day. I had planned the visit to coincide with the printing of the MYLONDON calendar in the UK.



Mumbai was divided into parts by Pehchan's MYMUMBAI organisers - with an average of 10 cameras going to around five different communities. As with London, we had to spend time teaching people how to use a film camera.


Interestingly, many of the participants, despite living on the streets, already have affordable Chinese smart phones and are used to taking photos on those phones. Several asked why we don't just use these cameras - (more about that later!).


Photos from 50 Fujifilm QuickSnap film cameras (with 27 shots on each camera) were narrowed down to around 150.


Pehchan helps these families with issues arising from living on the streets, from dealing with the police, to helping them obtain ID papers and recently they have started helping people get bank accounts.


The MYMUMBAI project came at a busy time for everyone - it was festival season and the Ganesh Chaturthi festival was the biggest of the year. Festivals bring employment, such as selling flowers and food, so the priority would not be taking photos.


Voting in St Xavier's College, Mumbai.


However, we were very happy when we had a 100% return rate for the cameras - partly thanks to Subhash Rokade from Pehchan and his dillegent student volunteers.


Photos from the project were narrowed down to around 120 and then voted on by students at St Xavier's College.

Students help Pehchan help the homeless families in Mumbai and also helped with the pop up exhibition in St Xavier's College.


The final 20 will be revealed soon, as will a 2024 MYMUMBAI calendar.


December 8, 2023: Pre-order the MYMUMBAI calendar now:


If you would like to pre-order one, please email info@cafeart.org.uk We will be uploading the chosen photos shortly!


Paul Ryan's trip was self-funded. He stayed in Bombay YMCA.

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