Aug 06 2005

Maximum City

Published by at 1:35 pm under Books

Subtitled “Bombay Lost and Found”.

by Suketu Mehta
I suppose this would have to be categorized as a travel book though it is not really o travel book. The author was born and raised in Bombay (now called Mumbai), but emigrated to the US (if Manhattan is the US!) when in his teens. He went back to Bombay twenty years later as a writer and researched his former city through excellent contacts which put him in touch with a wide range of people. The book is about people in Bombay and the general tone of the place. Not about its physical structure.
Bombay is quite a place. Teeming with people all trying to make money and get rich. A magnet for rural Indians. A non functional government and judicial system that has led to a major role for gangs in “administering” the city. There is a fair amount of information about the conflict between muslims and hindus in the city that has led to riots and bombings. Researched in the lat nineties, it is a little out of date, but thorough.
Long descriptions of talks with rioters, murderers, bar dancers, and what can only be called out of this world religious fanatics (a Jain family renouncing everything and becoming wandering monks).
Could be read as a possible future for other cities as populations increase and as resources become more scarce.

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