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Field Log 21 May 2015

On my second day of fieldwork I talked with residents of J-Block. I met with Mr. Lal Chandra Gupta, a senior citizen who owned a dry-cleaning shop. When I explained the Khoj project he welcomed the chance to talk about the problem faced by women in public places in the locality. He said that the corners of every street are always occupied by groups of boys or men, talking and laughing loudly and casually using foul language. This is a major problem in Khirkee Village. I met a woman at her shop in J-Block who said the same thing, adding that very often fights broke out at the street corners. Men and boys would stare at women and girls and harass them in different ways, which the women and girls tried their best to ignore. According to this resident, locals were also disturbed when the Somali migrants came out of their houses at night, shouting to one another and talking loudly.

There are also many small workshops in Khirkee and Hauz Rani and the workers and artisans employed in those also need places to stay. Some live outside, come to work during the day and leave in late evening or night, but others rent locally and some sleep in their workplaces. Earlier in Khirkee there were no multistory buildings, but now these are being built specifically so that the owners can rent them to migrant communities through property dealers and agents. The locality is full of signs for property sales, brokers, rentals of rooms and flats. Migrant presence has led to many dhabas and tea stalls being opened, run by men, for male customers. Long-term residents of Khirkee and Hauz Rani call the migrants ‘outsiders’ who are adding to local sense of insecurity because their numbers are increasing day by day.