There is something wrong with the parrot drawn on a black wall in this uneven Ghatkopar slum. Its neck is missing and it seems to be inspecting its own back at an odd angle. The parrot, it turns out, used to be an owl. An artist had drawn the nocturnal bird first but then the rustic residents of Sahyadri 2 — one of the many slums perched like Lego blocks on this Asalpha hillock — decided that they didn’t want to wake up to “a bad omen”. So, his chalk hastily replaced the hawk-like beak with a pouty, curved bill.

From the Mumbai Metro, however, you won’t be able to see this mutant bird. Nor the mural of a cat sitting inside a soapy bubble — inspired by a resident’s kitten — or the painting of a palm holding a turtle whose blueprint, Hari, lives nearby. All you can see from the air-conditioned train is a loud, multi-coloured installation of shanties that is likely to make filmmaker Rohit Shetty go: “Next song location.”

Last month, Dedeepya Reddy’s…

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