Suketu Mehta: Amchi Mumbai

Suketu Mehta writes a lovely Op-Ed in the NYTimes.

Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. “Mumbai is a golden songbird,” he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.


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1 Comment so far

  1. honestindian on November 29th, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

    Dear Suketu

    You paint a very unidimensional picture of Mumbai. Have you never known or seen the countless cultural, social, and spiritual activities that people do every minute in Mumbai? Those who really are the Mumbaikars. And mind you these are not only the elite who go fashinably dressed to NCPA or Andrews. These activities happen as part of school activities, in colleges, in housing societies, in Rotary clubs and Lions clubs. These happen in chawls and posh localities alike. There are people, countless numbers who lead a disciplined, spartan life as tax paying honest citizens though they may not be very rich. And this is the segment of society that is unrepresented and trampled on – they have no rights though the non tax paying squatters do, they have no respect(beyond their self-respect), they have no voice – beyond the one that rings in their ears everyday and keeps them honest, and lastly they have no representation even in ‘popular literature’ – because a tax paying honest citizens life does not ‘sell’

    It is not a surprise that people you spoke with gave you the view of a golden songbird – these are the people who are merely there to make money and these are the people who are responsible for Mumbai’s deterioration – culturally and socially. These are the rootless ruthless mass that you glorify – sadly or perhaps out of sheer commercial considerations of a writer!

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