Writings on Mumbai

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Item Code: IHL347
Author: Jerry Pinto & Naresh Fernandes
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 9780143029663
Pages: 348 (17 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
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Book Description
From the Flap

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
1 Island 1
2 Bombay: Hobson-Jobson on the Streets
Pico Iyer
3Where I live
Anundhathi Subramaniam
4 A Very Young Person
Rudyard Kipling
5 Paris, India
J. Gerson da Cunha
6 Impressions of Bombay
Khushwant Singh
7 Three Uneasy Pieces
Nina Martyris
8 The One Billion Rupee Home
Paromita Vohra
9 The Cult of the Golden Bull
Nina Martyris
10 Bajrang-The Great Indian Bustard
Vilas Sarang
11 Urban Fabric
Naresh Femandes
12 The Great Water Wars
Kiran Nagarkar
13 Clearning the Slums
Jeremy Seabrook
14 The View from Chinchpokli
Dilip Chitre
15 Hoops, Hunger, and the City
Nikhil Rao
16 Dekho, Dekho, Art Deco
Salman Rushdie
17 Bhelpuri
Rahul Srivastava
18 A Brace of Bombay Ducks
19 In the Gully
Sunil Gavaskar
20 Special Providence
Salim Ali
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
Aldous Huxley
24 The Story of the Freedom Struggle 149
25 First Ladies and Inferior Women
Gillian Tindall
26 A Little Paperwork
V.S. Naipaul
27 Temples of Desire
28 Sitara: Dancing Tigress from Nepal
Saadat Hasan Manto
29 The Rajdhani Express to Bombay
Paul Theroux
30 5:46, Andheri Local
Arundhathi Subramaniam
31 Elephanta
Andre Malraux
32 On the Waterfront
Chirodeep Chaudhuri
33 Talking Heads
Duke Ellington
34 To the City of Bombay
Rudyard Kipling
35 Scenes from a Life
Dosebai Cowasjee Jessawalla
36 ‘Son Eat Your Fill’
Daya Pawar
37 Muharram in the Mohalla
Sameera Khan
38 The Rage of the Marathi Manus
Meena Menon and Neera Adarkar
39 Fire
Arun Kolatkar
40 Doongaji House
<Cyrus Mistry
41 Licensed to Kill
Manjula Sen
42 The Bhendibazar Gharana
Suvarnalata Rao
43 Never at Home
Shabnam Minwalla
44 Morning You Play Different, Evening You Play Different
Naresh Fernandes
45 Mumbai
Suketu Mehta
46 Bombay Meri Hai
Uma Pocha and Chorus with Mina Kava and his Music Makers
Notes on Contributors 340
Acknowledgements 346
Copyright Acknowledgements 347
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