Mayor on the ball at Mumbai slum project

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Until now Boris Johnson has enjoyed the royal treatment during his tour of India.

Feted by enthusiastic locals as the king of England and mistaken for tennis veteran Boris Becker, he has been welcomed by everyone from state governors to mega-rich film producers.

The London mayor has used the diplomatic channel at the country’s airports, been given an armed – albeit sleepy – guard outside his hotel room, and even shaken hands with Bollywood superstar Kajol Devgn, so famous she is known to 1.2bn Indians simply by her first name.

But yesterday he took the afternoon off to meet some of Mumbai’s poorest children when he visited the city’s port slum, a place where the average monthly wage is £25, untreated sewage flows down the middle of the street and there is no running water or electricity.

The Magic Bus project in the city has turned a field covered in raw sewage to a thriving centre for sport where children, who would otherwise have been out gathering rubbish from the dumps surrounding their homes so their parents could sell the scraps, are able to play freely.

The youngsters certainly did not know who the man with a blond mop of hair was and nor did they care, as they barged their way through a scrum of photographers to grab cricket equipment from the mayor, England cricketer Kevin Pietersen and former rugby international Lawrence Dallaglio.

Never a politician to find himself on the sidelines, Mr Johnson then pulled his head through a very tight-fitting Magic Bus T-shirt for a game of 23-a-side. The youngsters, he said, showed “zap” after being hit repeatedly as they kicked the footballs at each other.

Indian journalists asked the mayor about his favourite sports which he said included cricket and football. But they had no idea about Eton’s Wall Game.

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