"We need to talk," my wife says. I sit nervously on the edge of a chair. She continues: "I want to hear your views on the comparative merits of the warp propulsion systems of the Millennium Falcon and the Starship Enterprise in tedious detail." For ten seconds, I am the happiest man who ever lived. And then I wake up.
Clad in denim, white tee shirt and possessed of the self-confidence of a Mumbai collegian, Babban Chavan, 25, looked distinctly out of place in the ragged tarpaulin-and-bamboo migrant camp that houses drought refugees in the teeming central suburb of Ghatkopar.
The attire and confidence belie Chavan's reality.
“I grew up in a small village where my family couldn’t afford to send me to school, because we couldn’t make ends meet. When I was 6 years old, my neighbor who was like a brother to me said that he will take me to Bombay and will provide education to me. So desperate was my thirst to learn, that without telling my parents I went off with him. It was the biggest mistake of my life. He sold me to a Nepali family for 50,000 Rupees and ran away.
"My father passed away when I was 6 years old. We were living in a village in Andhra back then and being the oldest son, I had to give up my education in the 5th standard and start working. I used to work two jobs - one as a farmer and another in a clothing shop, but despite that money was tight -- so my uncles got my younger brothers and to Bombay, in the search of more money. As soon as I came here, I landed a job of washing cars. Today my day starts something like this - I wake up at 4:30 and wash about 30 cars in one day to earn 13,000 Rupees a month.
I was born in the Kurdish Region in Iraq. According to my mum bombs were falling on our town and it was too dangerous to drive to the hospital. My grandmother and aunts would go around the neighborhood trying to find a midwife. They ended up finding a midwife and on March 3th 1991 my mother gave birth to me in the basement of our house. Our entire family and our neighbors stayed in that same basement. The man in my family including my father had gone to fight on the frontlines. We lost so many family members in that war.