Item Code: IHL347
by Jerry Pinto & Naresh FernandesPaperback (Edition: 2003)
Size: 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
Pages: 348 (17 B/W Illustrations)
Price: $37.50 Shipping Free
When King Charles II of England married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal in 1661, he received as part of his dowry the isles of Bom Bahia, the Good Bay. Reclaimed from the sea, these would become the modern city of Bombay. A marriage of affluence and abject poverty, where a grey concrete jungle is the backdrop to a heady potpourri of ethnic, linguistic and religious subcultures, Bombay, renamed Mumbai after the goddess Mumbadevi, defies definition.
Bombay, Meri Jaan, comprising poems and prose pieces by some of the biggest names in literature, in addition to cartoons, photographs, a song and a Bombay Duck recipe, tries to capture the spirit of this great metropolis.
Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Dilip Chitre, Saadat Hasan Manto, V.S. Naipaul, Khushwant Singh and Busybee, among others, write about aspects of the city: the high-rise apartments and the slums; camaraderie and isolation in the crowded chawls; bhelpuri on the beach and cricket in the gully; the women’s compartment of a local train; encounter cops who battle the underworld; the jazz culture of the sixties; the monsoon floods; the Shiv Sena; the cinema halls; the sea.
Vibrant, engaging and provocative, this is an anthology as rich and varied as the city it celebrates.
Introduction: The Live City
Jerry Pinto and Naresh Fernandes
Once Bombay lodges itself in your eye, you’re doomed to a lifetime of tunnel vision. Exploring the damp delights of Brussels one morning not so long ago, we made our way to the Cinquantenaire, a triumphal arch erected to commemorate Belgium’s golden jubilee. We peered at its drizzly outlines for a few seconds and almost simultaneously reached the same conclusion: it was merely a bombastic version of the Gateway of India.
We already shared another conviction. We’d both lived in other cities, but it was clear that Bombay is home. Our roots had fed off the putrefied ballast of palm fronds and fish entrails that was used to reclaim the seven islands from ocean and iniquity. Unfortunately, it’s scarcely that simple. Roots don’t hold easily in a metropolis built on ever-shifting flood plains and tremulous marsh. Bombay’s always a struggle, but we are hooked on the thrilled of daily combat.
Bombay has none of the imperium of Delhi, the self-conscious stasis of Calcutta or the provincial self-satisfaction of Madras. it is the ugly stepdaughter city but Prince Charming must cut his heels off to win her hand. It is a city in which no one dies of starvation but the vast majority are forced to endure living conditions that no enlightened zookeeper would allow for his animals. Yet the exiles and arrivistes keep flooding into the City Imagined, to the Bombay they see as siren and saviour. They never leave.
Why would you do that? Why would you live in a matchbox, breathe bad air, drink foul water, offer yourself as mosquito-fodder and roadkill? Because Bombay is an addiction. It isn’t good or you but you need the high of neon and insomnia, concrete and opportunity.
While putting together an anthology such as this one is not rocket science, it tends to have its own challenges. What you exclude becomes as much of a statement as what you include. Then there is always a streak of guilt. Friends become repositories of wisdom and talk about the ancient hamam in South Bombay where you can still have a Turkish bath; others ask if you are including anything on the black sand beach from which one of Emperor Ashoka’s progeny is supposed to have set out to proselytize for the Buddha; others suggest impossible photo-essays on the interiors of the Governor’s bungalow or a dog’s eye-view of the city. Everyone has a Bombay story, a Bombay they want represented. And everyone’s Bombay is not the Bombay we thought we knew.
When we started on this project, we were clear: we wanted to serve up the taste of the Lived Bombay rather than the move exotic flavours of the Visited Bombay. This is a vision of Bombay, stereoscopic, multiple, fuzzy, alienated, integrated, all of the above.
The inside back flap is blank. That’s where you should write your Bombay story or put in the piece you would have written had you the time or the one you wrote and we didn’t know about.
Back of the Book
Nissim Ezekiel Pico Iyer Khushwant Singh
Dilip Chitre J. Gerson da Cunha Paromita Vohra
Adil Jussawalla Vilas Sarang Naju Kava Nikhil Rao
Rudyard Kipling Aldous Huxley Suketu Mehta
Arundhathi Subramaniam Salman Rushdie Farrukh Dhondy Sunil Gavaskar
Chirodeep Chaudhari Kiran Nagarkar Daya Pawar
Jeremy Seabrook V.S. Naipaul Salim Ali
Rahul Srivastava Khwaja Ahmad Abbas Sameera Khan
Gillian Tindall Saadat Hasan Manto Paul Theroux
Dosebai Cowasjee Jessawalla Neera Adarkar
Duke Ellington Manjula Sen Shabnam Minwalla
Cyrus Mistry Suvarnalata Rao Arun Kolatkar.
Meena Menon Nina Martyris
Busybee Andre Malraux.
|Introduction: The Lived City|
Jerry Pinto and Naresh Fernandes
|2||Bombay: Hobson-Jobson on the Streets |
|3||Where I live|
|4||A Very Young Person|
J. Gerson da Cunha
|6||Impressions of Bombay|
|7||Three Uneasy Pieces|
|8||The One Billion Rupee Home|
|9||The Cult of the Golden Bull|
|10||Bajrang-The Great Indian Bustard|
|12||The Great Water Wars|
|13||Clearning the Slums|
|14||The View from Chinchpokli|
|15||Hoops, Hunger, and the City|
|16||Dekho, Dekho, Art Deco|
|18||A Brace of Bombay Ducks
|19||In the Gully|
|21||The Day It Rained Gold Bricks and a Horse Ran Headless Jerry Pinto||138|
|22||War Comes to Bombay|
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
|23||Arriving in Bombay|
|24||The Story of the Freedom Struggle||149|
|25||First Ladies and Inferior Women|
|26||A Little Paperwork|
|27||Temples of Desire|
|28||Sitara: Dancing Tigress from Nepal|
Saadat Hasan Manto
|29||The Rajdhani Express to Bombay|
|30||5:46, Andheri Local|
|32||On the Waterfront|
|33||Talking Heads |
|34||To the City of Bombay|
|35||Scenes from a Life|
Dosebai Cowasjee Jessawalla
|36|| ‘Son Eat Your Fill’|
|37||Muharram in the Mohalla|
|38||The Rage of the Marathi Manus|
Meena Menon and Neera Adarkar
|40||Doongaji House |
|41||Licensed to Kill|
|42||The Bhendibazar Gharana|
|43||Never at Home|
|44||Morning You Play Different, Evening You Play
|46||Bombay Meri Hai|
Uma Pocha and Chorus with Mina Kava and his Music Makers
|Notes on Contributors||340|