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Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021
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Only The Dark Skyline Joined Our Ghettos Together

New York is another city. Can Mumbai, hostage to a murky substrata of underworld and petty political interests, respond in its own way?

Only The Dark Skyline Joined Our Ghettos Together
Only The Dark Skyline Joined Our Ghettos Together
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Once invited to stay at the home of a shipping tycoon off Peddar Road, I, a backward Delhiwalla, was amazed at the nearness of the juxtapositions. His was the only bit of planned real estate in a complete slum. A private tennis court was cut into a neat rectangle in the middle of dense shanties that surrounded his house. In the morning, while we served and volleyed in the uncomfortable silence of men washing themselves from a handpump barely 20 feet from the baseline, I was struck by this starkly ironic urban contrast. That the two Bombays have existed peacefully and without boundaries for so long attests to people's extraordinary acceptance of the city's dual nature, and the unspoken belief that disparity is a birth condition; perhaps in my next life I will be in the tycoon's home. Or one of the men at the handpump.

The myth of Mumbai's cosmopolitanism is naturally perpetuated by fear. A shaky—and shaken—elite occupies the business and commercial centres at Colaba and Nariman Point. They frequent the Taj and Oberoi hotels; spend their evening entertaining at the Gymkhana and Wellington Clubs; their homes occupy the high reaches of Malabar Hill. Given their low numbers, their influence on the city's cultural and business life is remarkable, but in no way do they constitute the urban culture of the town.

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