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Meet Karishma Mehta, the storyteller of ‘Humans of Bombay’

Mumbai: Karishma was only 21 when she decided to tread out on the streets of Mumbai and document stories of some ordinary people and their extraordinary lives in – Humans of Bombay, a page that now boasts of more than million followers and twice as many on Instagram. Starting a page that would feature interviews with people on the streets of Mumbai was no easy feat. In fact, Ms Mehta recalled, when she first started Humans of Bombay, she went around the city’s iconic Marine Drive, asking strangers if they would agree to speak with her. “Only one woman agreed; she was in her mid 50’s and recently widowed,” Ms Mehta said in a post published on her own page. 

“We sat there, two strangers, with the city lights twinkling behind us, knowing that we’d connected far beyond the ‘stranger’ tag. At the end of it, she said, ‘Thank you, it feels like a burden has been lifted off my chest.’ We parted ways, but I knew I was onto something special,” she remembered in her post. 

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‘Humans of Bombay’ has completed eight years. It has grown since then, capturing inspiring stories of not just the people of Mumbai but also its businessmen, celebrities and many more. Apart from documenting stories, the platform  has helped several people through crowdfunding.

“We have thus far raised over 15 crores, paying for surgeries and the education of the lesser privileged, rehabilitating women in the sex trade and in one case, justice for a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a bomb blast,” said Ms Mehta. 

The last story she refers to is the case of Ali Bhai, for whom the platform managed to raise ₹ 23 lakh – a lakh for each year he spent in jail.

“We told Ali Bhai’s story and then asked our readers to contribute 23 lacs for the 23 years he spent in jail,” said Ms Mehta. “Overnight, we raised the entire amount.”

“And I believe that with all my heart. Through the pandemic, the wars, the politics of greed…there is still love and kindness. So today, I hope you choose just that– to be kind to a stranger, to give to those who need, to vehemently express your love every chance you get.
And this is me, taking that chance. This book is my love letter to the people of India. It has shades of jugaad, humble roots, and building a sense of unrelenting brotherhood that binds us together. Listening to these stories have changed me in a way that nothing else has. So I invite you to walk with me through the dusty streets and colorful nooks of a country with 1.3 billion beating hearts…one story at a time,” reads her Instagram post.

Ultimately, people want their stories to be heard. Be it strangers, they too look forward for someone who can listen to their part and help them. After all, this is what humanity teaches us – Spread love, not hate.



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