02 March, 2021
Letters | Feb 18, 2002

Bye-Bye, B'Bay?

Salaam Bombay: Life in a Necropolis

Feb 18, 2002

Your cover story Bye, Bye B’bay (February 4) is guilty of underplaying the grim scenario in Bombay. Slums keep on multiplying, pollution is at an all-time high and the powers that be do not have the spine to attack the taxi unions which are the biggest culprit. Industry had given up on Bombay long ago and extortion comes not only from the underworld but as much from the police and politicians. The current chief minister, like his predecessors, has neither the vision nor the willpower to bring about any concrete changes. Bombay will be hard-pressed to recover from this morass.
Z. Billimoria, Bombay

It’s the so-called "outsiders" who’ve enriched Bombay by contributing to its progress and development. The Saviours of Mumbai have only robbed it of its beauty and character.
Zohra Javed, Bombay

Mumbai might just happen to be someone’s poison, but it’s also someone’s meat; it’s a matter of perception. What’s definitely worth admiring about it is the fact that it has the only corporation in the country which is among the five corporations in the world running in profit.
Devashish Ruthia, Bombay

The Death of a Great City could not have been better timed than this—on the eve of the Mumbai municipal corporation elections.
Krishna Singh, Mumbai

Mumbai’s decline made for sad reading. The greatest thing about the city has been its cosmopolitanism and free spirit. And this is exactly what the fundamentalists are bent upon destroying, with their hate campaign unleashed across the country, even as far as this peaceful, coastal state of Kerala.
Uma R., Thiruvananthapuram

Mumbai’s cosmopolitan ambience has been the first casualty of the never-ending influx from UP, which phenomenon has changed the demographic mix of the metro beyond recognition. Why at all do people come to Mumbai for living in sub-human conditions?
Mehmood M. Abdi, Mumbai

The very pretentiousness which used to be passed off as tehzeeb in the past in Delhi now seems to have become its leitmotif. Bombay, on the other hand, where fierce pride lights the most cynical of eyes from Bhayandar to Ballard Estate, is still primus in Indis. Just get rid of the bhagwa goondas and Bombay will boom again.
Gautam Babbar, on e-mail

Despite everything I’ve seen and lived through in Mumbai, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Not even the time I’m spending here in Toronto, supposedly one of the world’s greatest cities according to the UN. And I seem to be in good company. All the Indians I’ve met out here equate Bombay with a magic that’s irresistible. And to think you’ve dismissed the views of the man on Bombay’s streets and turned to the same old crop of poets, politicians and filmmakers to elicit their opinion on the city. That was the final nail in the coffin for me with regard to your cover story.
Sonia Benjamin, Toronto

Sure Bombay’s crowded, sure it’s got slums, but you didn’t have to say that four times. We got the idea the very first time.
Leo Mirani, Bombay

I’ve lived in Mumbai all my life but am now based in the UK. To say the city has deteriorated is an understatement and it’s largely come at the hands of politicians—principally the Shiv Sena. Those who feel strongly against their antics should call for a peaceful march to ensure that the city is taken from hoodlums, gangsters and politicians and returned to its rightful owners—the people of Mumbai.
Cyrus Lam, on e-mail

You’ve highlighted only the ills of Mumbai, but what about its innumerable benefits—the best buses, its trains, plus its excellent medical facilities and educational institutions? It’s also the safest city for women to travel, even at odd hours.
Sachin Punalekar, Mumbai

If you want to date the passing of Bombay, it could well be the day the city was renamed Mumbai; the date of the triumph of the lumpens and the chauvinists over the values that Bombay represented. It’s also interesting that the sample of people whose views you have quoted comprises largely of respondents who could be described either as middle-aged or old, if not outright geriatric: it would be remarkable if such a sample were to say that things are improving.
Vivek Jasuja, on e-mail

Right said, Mr D’Monte. The Marathi-speaking people should leave Mumbai to make more space for D’Monte and his ilk. All the corruption, filth, overcrowding and inadequate infrastructure will vanish as soon as they are deported out of Mumbai and the Shiv Sena is banned. The city will then be restored to its pristine glory by migrant labour from UP and Bihar. D’Monte’s missionary schools too will then have nothing to fear and happily continue with their arbitrary admission procedures.
Ketan Pandit, Mumbai

Agreed that Bombay has many problems but then which city doesn’t? Wipro vice-chairman Vivek Paul has been quoted saying that his company is the biggest bus contractor because Bangalore doesn’t have a decent transport system. It’s only in Mumbai that a classroom can have Tamilians, Bengalis, Punjabis and Gujaratis. It’s the only place where after the bomb blasts, there was over 70 per cent attendance in offices the next day.
Raviraj Mahatme, on e-mail

If refutation is the best form of flattery, then Outlook’s got it. On January 30, the Bombay Mid-Day had a page-one banner, Dead? Not Us!, and devoted a whole centrespread to it. The irony: it relied heavily on a survey by Asiaweek, which itself has closed since. However, an error has crept into the story you ran, for which I’d written an original draft. The current population figure of 11 million applies to the 466-sq-km Greater Bombay, not the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which is nearly 10 times larger. It’s mmr that will be the world’s largest urban agglomeration in 2015, with a projected 28.5 million.
Darryl D’Monte, Bombay

Mumbai has been my home for the past 10 years and it started with me living homeless in her streets. Now it runs in my blood. Sure, it’s hard work here but Mumbai generously rewards the tough-hearted. Your story is a classic example of how to first come to a conclusion and then select arguments to support it.
Raja M., Mumbai

Some possible solutions for Mumbai: develop at least four very low income housing areas at least 4 km from Panvel or Thane on the existing train lines, issue legal notices to overcrowded factories to move out of city limits, an underground metro or an overhead mass rapid transit rail network and limit taxis to long-distance routes while banning autorickshaws altogether.
Pankaj, on e-mail

Like it or leave it, but you cannot ignore Bombay. Whoever has been here once becomes enchanted. And that includes the editor-in-chief of Outlook, Vinod Mehta.
Ashok Karania, Bombay

I’d rate Mumbai for what it is solely because of its national park. It’s the only metropolis in the world to have a national park in the heart of a city.
Sanal R. Nair, Mumbai

Good article! Even for a transit passenger at the airport, the stench coming from the slums is obvious. Enough has been said on this, but the point is to change it. Any actions the state, city and people of Mumbai can take to address and tackle these problems?
Sudhakar Chary, on e-mail

Sure Bombay has her shortcomings, her filth, her overcrowding, hell, even her Thackerays. But she is a city that has evolved on her own, not a soul-less wannabe like Delhi.
Bharatram Gaba, on e-mail

What next after Death of a Great City? Death of a Great Country?
Pooja, on e-mail

Touching Up A White Dream

To the Taj, With Love

Feb 18, 2002

Apropos Touching Up a White Dream (January 28), Lord Curzon in his zeal to restore the Taj did not erase the Mughal garden and replace it with an English one, as you have suggested. As he has recorded: "...the discovery of old plans has enabled us to restore the water channels and flower beds of the garden more exactly to their original state." The Viceroy claimed the cost of "repairs alone came to a sum of £40,000 and £50,000" and he browbeat his government into footing the bill. A colossal amount considering that until Curzon’s arrival in 1898, total expenditure in India on archaeology had not exceeded £3,000! In return Curzon had grandiloquently promised: "...Agra will be given back to the world, a pearl of great price." Indeed, it was.
Nayana Goradia, New Delhi

Bully, Know Thyself

Tears for Crocodiles

Feb 18, 2002

It’s time Anita Pratap was sent to Pakistan (Bully, Know Thyself, February 4) where she could offer consolation to all the Pakistanis about their sad plight. What does she want us to do? Send a letter of thanks to the general and every Pakistani citizen for their crackdown on terrorists? She’s just one of those peaceniks who make money by flaunting their "knowledge" of India.
Rahul Chayaa, on e-mail

Prayers For Pervez

Arm-Twisted Detour

Feb 18, 2002

Prem Shankar Jha’s Prayers For Pervez (January 28) is pragmatic advice except that he does not have to assign honest intentions to the Pakistani president. Anyone can see that the US arm-twisted him into making the speech jettisoning religious fundamentalists. Politicians in India and Pakistan have traditionally used religion to come to power and retain it and Musharraf and Vajpayee are no exceptions. Everyone knows what Musharraf’s course of action would have been had September 11 not happened.
Abraham Eapen, Hyderabad

How To Be A Parsi In Paris

Saving Grace

Feb 18, 2002

Apropos How To Be a Parsi in Paris (January 28), it’s good to hear that Parsis are trying to adhere to their religious traditions (they could do without the dokma rituals though). One sincerely wishes for a few other religions to survive at a time when humankind is becoming slave to a handful of religions controlled by unsaintly godmen, mad mullahs and proselytising pastors.
Mohan T. Vaidy, on e-mail

Interesting article. Wish you had given contact details of the Parsi association in Paris so that Parsis settled in smaller numbers in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Africa could reach out and form communication links.
Dhun Karai, on e-mail

Front(al) Nudity

Heavenly Tales

Feb 18, 2002

Many thanks, Vinod Mehta, for the Quranic revelations in your Delhi Diary (January 28). Good heavens, 72 virgins is some workout.
C.G. Prasad, Chennai

Wanted Doctor

Feb 18, 2002

Musharraf says "Kashmir runs in our blood." Question is, who’ll do the blood test?
Ramesh Negi, New Delhi

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