While reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, I found the prologue to a bit confusing. The reader suddenly learns that the presumed main character, Abdul, is going into hiding while his father, Karam is going to offer himself to the police. I suppose the author was trying to set up where the story would be going and then backtrack to the beginning where she will talk about the events that led up to the scene that was written in the prologue. However, in my opinion, this set up just made it confusing to where I had to reread some parts just to make sure I didn’t miss anything that explain why Abdal was hiding in his shed of trash, why the police were coming for him, this incident about a woman called “One Leg” burning. Although, the prologue was a bit confusing, it made more since once I began to read the first chapter. The author describes the small neighborhood of Annawadi as a slum in Mumbai located near the airport. The town is lined with hand-built huts that people live in, and a sewage lake that has had bad effects on the animals, such as goats with intestinal distress as well as dogs and pigs “that slept in its shallows emerged with bellies stained blue” (7). There is not much privacy with the thin walls between the homes and there are also signs of Hindu-Muslim prejudices as well as economic envy within this poor community. This is one of the main reasons why Abdul finds it difficult to hide from the police; he fears that a neighbor may see and turn him in. In reading chapter 1, you learn that Annawadi was built in 1991 by poor migrants who came to work on the airport. It is stated that 17 years later the people living in Annawadi are no longer in poverty due to the economic growth in India. However, the author describes the struggle of living in Annawadi and getting work. And although Abdul and his family have done well with the garbage work, they are still not free from poverty. Katherine Boo wrote that: “almost no one in this slum was considered poor by official Indian benchmarks” (6), but with the description of the people and their work, it seems like they are still living in poverty. So I have to wonder what the “official Indian benchmarks” standards are for the poverty in this area. Because “when Abdul left garbage outside, it got stolen by the scavengers, and he hated to buy the same garbage twice” (12).


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